SDP would like to decrease budgetary funds for the Church.
In a recent interview, SDP president Davor Bernardić spoke about the issue of revision of treaties with the Holy See. Although he mentioned these contracts in the context of the new party manifesto, whose outlines should be known in the autumn, SDP subsequently said it was only a personal position of the party president and that the issue will not be part of the manifesto, reports Večernji List on 1 August 2017.
The party points out that the working group that will draft the new SDP platform has just started working and that the guidelines should be known by September, adding that Bernardić only emphasised the significance of the secularity of the state, which is one of the goals stated in the existing party manifesto as well.
They add that the treaties with the Holy See were signed in the war-time situation and that the circumstances have changed considerably in the meantime, given that Pope Francis strongly advocates for social justice and equality, adding that changes to the treaties could find their place in the future in the election manifesto for the next parliamentary elections.
Members of the working group responsible for drafting the new party programme also say that there has not been any talk about the treaties, but the fact is that similar ideas have been mentioned from the party previously as well, mostly during pre-election periods. One of the proponents was former Interior Minister Ranko Ostojić while he was a candidate for SDP president. Ostojić’s idea was that the treaties should firmly establish how much money the Church is to receive from the state budget.
Currently, the formula is linked to the number of parishes, which encourages the Church to establish new parishes although there is no real need for it, given the decreasing number of inhabitants and believers in Croatia. Many in SDP also believe that the state should know exactly what is being financed with almost 300 million kunas annually paid from the state budget and that the Church should submit reports that would justify its spending.
As for the religious education in schools, SDP has a more conciliatory position. They agree that the religious studies should remain as an elective course, but they question the need for the course to be graded. They also want religious classes to be scheduled at the beginning or the end of a school day.
The fact is, however, that the treaties with the Holy See are international agreements that cannot be terminated unilaterally, except in exceptional circumstances. In order to launch the revision process, it would be necessary to request the consent of the Vatican, which so far no government has decided to do, including the ones led by SDP.
No one from the Church wanted to comment on Bernardić’s statements officially, but unofficially they say that these are frivolous comments which usually appear in the left-liberal political circles before elections and for intraparty purposes.
Translated from Večernji List.