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Poland gives land and money to Church while a quarter of its children go hungry (2008)

The Polish Government can afford to subsidise Church influence in every corner of society, from salaries for the chaplains in the civil service, to holiday pay for the monks and nuns teaching religion in state schools. Yet it is unable to provide free school lunches for Polish children, a quarter of whom are malnourished. This is an itemised list of state subventions to the Church for 2008. The numbers will change from year to year, but the categories are likely to remain the same.

More than a quarter of all Polish children live in poverty, the highest rate in the 27-nation European Union. [1] This is due to widespread unemployment and large families. [2] Many are malnourished, with one child in three going to school without breakfast. [3] Children have been reported fainting in class or scavenging scraps of food left by others. [4] These thin, apathetic children have trouble concentrating in school, often fall ill and are rejected by their classmates. [5] The Polish Government cannot afford to feed all the hungry children yet, as shown by the figures below, it sends vast sums into Church coffers.

Despite the Polish Government's huge donations to the Church, it doesn't seem to be able to feed its hungry children –  even though a nourishing school meal only costs between 2 and 3 zlotys [6] or less than a single US dollar. 

The figures below come from Roman Kotliński, editor of the weekly magazine Facts and Myths, who gives no source for them. Other estimates include those of the Catholic Information Agency (KAI) which claims that the public financing of the Church (in 2011) equals nearly 493m złoty a year. However, the analysis of the website actually puts this figure at nearly 2bn złoty. [7] 

State subsidies to the Catholic Church in Poland

Roman Kotliński
 Oszczednosci w budzecie - propozycja (Savings in the budget - a proposal)
Letter published in, 4 March 2009

Fixed costs for 2008

Maintenance (salaries, insurance, holiday pay, rural supplement and living allowance) for over 42,000 catechists (including estimated 13,000 priests, 1,500 monks, 3,500 nuns, and the remainder laymen) – 162,229,000 zloty. [$56,000,000] In 2009 the state is to spend 1.8 billion zl on catechists.

  1. Subventions for Church-run (religious) education institutions – 256,868,000 zl. [$88,700,000] 
  2. Subsidies towards Church-run universities, fee-paying (except  the state-run Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University), theology departments, including Catholic seminars – 190,500,000 zloty. [$65,800,000] 
  3. Chaplains  
    • Polish Armed Forces 19,700,000 zl  [$6,800,000] (in 2007 – 16.6m zl), which includes 15.8m on salaries and other financial remuneration (holiday pay, transport, benefits etc.) for 187 priests
    • Polish Border Guard (12 chaplains) – 1,000,000 zl  [$345,000] (almost 700,000 zl on logistics etc.)
    • Police (65 chaplains) – over 2,000,000 zl  [$690,000] (salaries and logistics)
    • Chaplains in the State Fire Service – 1,000,000 zl  [$345,000]
    • The National Prison Service (100 chaplains) – about 2,500,000 zl [$863,000]
    • Health institutions (around 500 priests) – 11,000,000 zl  [$3,800,000]
    • Foresters, energy sector workers, rail workers, athletes, municipal services workers, mines (altogether around 400 chaplains) – about  6,000,000 zl  [$2,100,000]
  4. Church-run health institutions (clinics, hospitals, care homes, hospices etc. – in total around 200) – the National Health Fund paid out to them 186,437,898.47 zl. [$64,350,000]
  5. Church Fund – in 2008 – 97,900,000 zl   [$33,800,000]   (in 2009 – 99.5m zl).

[Variable] costs for 2008

  1. Donations from state institutions or companies with State Treasury shareholding – about 50,000,000 zl annually. [$17,300,000]
  2. Financing and co-financing of various shares and investments by PFRON (National Disabled Persons Rehabilitation Fund) – about 30,000,000 zl annually.  [$10,300,000]
  3. “Ecological” donations (upgrade of heating systems, insulation of buildings etc.) – The National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management and regional funds – about 35,000,000 zl annually. [$12,100,000]
  4. Sale of land and buildings by local government with routine discounts in the region of 99 to 99.9 percent – about 30,000,000 zl annually. (a reduction in district authorities’ income). [$10,300,000]
  5. Donations for restoration of historic church buildings (and, by the way, vicarages, on the quiet) – 30,000,000 zl from the state budget  [$10,300,000] and about 25,000,000 zl  [$8,600,000] from the regional councils’ budgets, and also about 50,000,000 zl annually [$17,200,000] (in 2007-2008) from the European regional development fund.


1. Irena Wóycicka, “Tackling child poverty and promoting the social inclusion
of children: A Study of National Policies”, European Commission, May 2007, p. 4.

2. Ibid., p.6

3. Polish Humanitarian Action (Polska Akcja Humanitarna) cited in Cracow Online.,Krakow_takes_poll_position_as_Polands_technology_center.htm

4. Foundation for Corporate Social Responsibility, “History and need for the hot-meal-a-day program and the fresh milk program”.

5. Polish Humanitarian Action (Polska Akcja Humanitarna), “Problem niedożywienia” (“The problem of malnutrition”).

6. Foundation for Corporate Social Responsibility, “History and need for the hot-meal-a-day program and the fresh milk program”. 

7. Gavin Rae (political scinetist at Kozminski University in Warsaw), “Faith in Funding”, Beyond the transition (blog), 20 March 2012.


Oszczednosci w budzecie - propozycja, 2009-03-04,17007,92226826,92226826,Oszczednosci_w_budzecie_propozycja.html 

Translated by Renata Anderson

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