Spain Faces Battle Over Catholic Church Funding

Religious and political leaders in Spain are wrangling over suggestions that the government may seek a reduction in state subsidies to the Catholic Church.

Justice Minister Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar told a Spanish newspaper that the government, headed by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, would renegotiate a deal the government signed with the Vatican in 1979 assuring public financing of the church, Agence France-Presse reported in late May.

“The deal departs from the principle that the Catholic Church is self-financed,” said Lopez Aguilar. He added that church officials “know this situation is not indefinitely tenable.”

The Sunday London Telegraph, reported that Catholic officials are intent on fighting Zapatero’s government over the public financing issue.

“They will not scare us by threatening to strip us of our belongings,” Archbishop Antonio Caizares was quoted as saying in a sermon.