AN ECCLESIASTICAL EXPERT ABOUT EXPOSE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
(The Catholic Informative Agency)
The expert of the Episcopate Fr. Prof. Dariusz Walencik, referring to the expose by the Prime Minister Donald Tusk, proclaimed on 18 November this year, says that the Concordat does not need to be renegotiated - it should be fully carried out. He adds that the ecclesiastical party is ready for talks with the government on the 'new whole model of financing the Church'. By the way he corrects many mistakes included in the expose of the Prime Minister. For example, the postulate of the Prime Minister is incorrect which says that 'clergy should return to the general pension system'. The professor explains that clergy in Poland have been included in the general system of pension insurance since 1939. Before that - throughout the whole period of the Polish People's Republic - and with some exceptions, for example, the so-called priests-patriots, they did not belong to the insurance system at all, and they could not even insure themselves of their own will. 'However, if the Prime Minister meant the liquidation of the Church Fund, saying about insurances, the ecclesiastical party is ready for talks on this issue' - the expert of the Episcopate declares. He explains that the liquidation of the Church Fund and replacing it with other solutions has been a postulate of the Church for years. The Church Fund - as he emphasizes - is an anachronism and does not meet the realities of the contemporary world. This Fund is not a compensating Fund, which works in a way that the Church receives money for the overtaken welfare for specific purposes, but its budget is only an expression of the approbation of the State. Fr. Prof. Walencik also points to the fact that the Prime Minister departs from the truth, saying that the whole wealth was given back to the Church through the action of the Property Commission. For, this Commission used to give back only the property which had been taken away with the breach of the law in the Polish People's Republic. Claims of the ecclesiastical legal people submitted to the Commission concerned 100 thousands of hectares while the Property Commission gave back only 65 thousands of hectares; 'and what about the claims which were not reported to the Property Commission?' -he asks rhetorically. He explains that for years the amount of the budget of the Church Fund was not estimated. After abolishing the Property Commission and estimating what had been returned, the budget of the Church Fund should be not 90 mln but about 200 mln zl annually. So the Polish country still owes a lot to the Church - the experts explains in the interview with the Catholic Informative Agency, and he adds that the Church can certainly resign from all these claims but it must be its will which will be expressed in a proper contract with the government of the Republic of Poland.
Fr. Walencik emphasizes that if the Prime Minister declares a political will for full regulating financial matters of the Church, so the way to this is the realization of the rule in art 22 of the Concordat. He adds that despite of what is suggested by the Prime Minister - the Concordat does not need to be renegotiated but it can only be realized. It should happen within the cooperation of the Concordat commissions: the commission of the State and the Church. Also the Apostolic Nuncio should participate in working out these solutions. 'All these parties should join proper negotiations in order to work out a new whole model of financing religious groups in Poland' - the expert emphasizes. He adds that the Concordat anticipates the possibility of double solutions in this area. It can be a 'partial contract' between Poland and the Holy See on the financial issues or a national law. In the latter case the negotiations with the government can be carried out by the Conference of Episcopate from the authorization by the Holy See. Then - after signing the proper contract between the representatives of the Conference of the Polish Episcopate, entitled by the Holy See, and the government - the financial matters concerning the Church could be regulated in the form of a bill passed on the basis of this contract.