ALMS FOR THE CHURCH?
FR. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
The issue of money of the Church and its ‘riches’ has been a priority issue in press, radio and TV for some time
The Church is judged as a rich institution which has wide possibilities and takes money from the state. Newspapers write about greediness of the Church and about the fact that priests want to get rich. It raises a fright among people who are less sceptical towards this information from media; if the Church is so greedy and cruel in its action, something must be done about it.
The rhetoric of hatred
The Bolshevik times and the times of the Republic of Poland come to my mind here, when people used to say about the ‘riches’ of the Church in the same way. After the war, people similarly used to say about farmers who were contemptuously called kulaks and deprived of land, people and agriculture were destroyed. It was a lively hatred, which was caused and steered by the authorities and party factors of that time. During the October revolution, clergy were destroyed in the same way, both those who were Orthodox and Catholic. And here, the rhetoric of hatred came back, and similar actions against the Church came back too, in the century of the general human poverty, aiming at degrading it completely. Today it is so worse, that one word or one sentence said against the Church is immediately multiplied by media and it causes building a very bad anti-church atmosphere. Although it seems to calm citizens, that this all is only worthless fantasy, so many times clergy and the Church have been attacked, that now, we will cope with it. However, the problem is not trivial and its proof is, among the others, the political movement of Palikot in the Seym. His voice in all media caused a situation when people to start believing him. It was him who proclaimed that the Church does not pay taxes, which is not true, but people take it as a truth, that religion at schools costs a lot, etc. People do not think what this subject is, that it does not only teach but also educates; however, people are deceived by ‘financial’ slogans. Even today there is a lively idea to take away everything from the Church. That is true that there were some defects in the action by the Property Commission but these are nearly details in a vast and necessary activity of this commission. And the defects are only to be solved by the court and prosecutors who settle and regulate these issues. In the majority of matters, the commission led to their successful ending for the good of both parties. For, we must remember that the Propriety Commission is not only a Church institution, but also state officials. So, if some things were neglected, everyone guilty, who might not have noticed something. However, there are attacks not only against the Church and it is usually blamed. Besides that, if nuns gained a compensation for the property which was taken away from their monastery, then what they will do with this money or property is their matter as owners, who decide about the purpose of a particular property. However, there are louder slogans: the Church took away, the Church grabbed and the Church did not have any right...
What does the concordat say?
There were, are and will be controversial issues especially that the Church has not received the refund of a big part of property grabbed years ago, which included land, buildings, schools, headquarters of many new Church units. Today they belong to the administration of cities or private users, who still feel insulted or protest against giving back the property to their owner, because they simply got used to the possession of them and they consider them as their property. The situation is worsened by media which proclaim that the Church is an exploiter, that it has too much and that it deserves nothing. However, we must be fair towards the reality. This issue should be settled in a formal and legal way. So, we must return to the rules in the concordat which expresses the commonly accepted attitude towards the finances of the Church. ‘Parta sunt servanda’- contracts should be maintained – these are the rules of law and order. So, if the Polish country is to be a country of law, it must stick to the concordat rules and not act against them.
Strange ideas of minister Boni
So, as far as the essence of the suggestions by minister Michał Boni is concerned, this issue seems risky. First of all, the property of the Church is still in the hands of the state in much extent; whereas the suggested percent of the tax assigned for the needs of the Church would come from the pocket of the nation, tax-payers would be supposed to pay it. So, we see a kind of contradiction of this contract, the state has got the property of the Church at its disposal, and a poor tax-payer is to lend his money to the Church. Besides, the estimations are quite exaggerated. The amount of over 100 million zlotys, which the Church would receive finally, is highly exaggerated, as not all citizens pay taxes, and, for example, what to do with farmers who buy their insurance in the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund. The Church Fund was to be a form of compensation and today it is treated as alms given to the Church or just as big money which the Church wants to take away from the state. But there must be a kind of sense of social and historical justice. Even if communists noticed the need of creating the Church fund, it is weird that the governments in free Poland are making decisions aimed at accepting this illegality which was done to the Church by communists. We were fighting against Bolshevik Russia, Stalinism, and later communism, in the years 1980-1981 there was an impulse of solidarity, later in 1989 there were elections, when Poles showed what vision they had about the future. However, today we are coming back to the gloomy communist times and to what raise dread, fright and condemnation at that time. As if the government forgot what justice and honesty are and what role the Church played in regaining independence by Poland and what role the Church is still playing in the society, teaching about love to God and our neighbour and helping the state in bringing up its righteous citizens to a high degree. These are the representatives of today’s Civic Platform, in the person of the Prime Minister, president and the whole party formation who are responsible for the country of law, for everything which is to serve the welfare of the Republic of Poland. And we want to remind about it today.