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State covering clergy wages not an issue for Fico

Churches and the government have been discussing clergy wages since 2011.

Archbishop of Bratislava Stanislav Zvolenský with Prime Minister Robert Fico.(Source: Tasr)

One of the first visits Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico received in 2017 was from Catholic Church Archbishop Stanislav Zvolenský. The state has been dealing with archaic funding of churches since 2011, however, with few visible results. The two failed to open the issue during their meeting, instead, Fico discussed with Zvolenský how the Slovak economy has improved.

There are 18 registered churches in Slovakia, which are financed according to the number of their clergy. The total sum provided by the state to Churches was more than €40 million in 2016. The largest beneficiary is the Roman Catholic Church, which received around more than €23 million from the state budget in 2016, according to Culture Ministry statistics.

Fico called church funding “evergreen” in church-state relationships adding that it is not a priority of his third government.

“Until there is no model which would be fine for both sides there is no point in rushing it,” Fico told the press on January 2 after the meeting. “Currently, the Catholic Church and other churches are attached to the state and I don’t think that this should be the main topic of cooperation between the Catholic Church and the government.”

When it comes to religious issues, the government focused instead on making registration of religious groups more difficult in 2016. Nationalist party SNS, which initiated the changes, also declared its will to ban Muslim burqas, although almost nobody wears them in Slovakia.

Read also:Piešťany still draws, welcomes foreigners

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