The diocese, its bishop and the financial officer are suspected of fraudulently registering thousands of people on its membership lists between 2010 and 2014, which enabled it to obtain 50 million kroner (more than $6.0
million or 5.8 million euros) in state subsidies.
Norway’s church denies engaging in fraud but has admitted its past methods were “unsatisfactory.”
Well if they did something wrong, and Proven, then pay up like everyone else
That article was fairly brief. Two items I wish it had touched on:
What steps is a church in Norway supposed to do in order to properly state that person X is a member of that church? I remember reading an article where the Catholic Church would not perform certain services for a person who was not registered with the government as a member of the church. Obviously, that can’t be the only method to confirm members as there will be those who attend but don’t make requests of the church that would require being identified.
What steps is a church in Norway supposed to do to make sure that they aren’t counting people members who have left that church? I can’t imagine any kind of roll call is done. Even if the church knew that someone hadn’t attended services in a month how could they determine if that person has left the church, is on holiday, is sick, or just didn’t feel like going? It seems difficult at best.
This is why I don’t like it when Churches take money from government. It’s really asking for trouble in many cases.
Police raided the offices at the church and took their computers?
To search hard-drives?
“The fraud happened when they enrolled people in a register without the members actually knowing they were being enrolled in the church,” Oslo’s police prosecutor, Kristin Rusdal, told Reuters.
“Using this register they applied for funding from the state and municipalities, which is distributed on the basis of how many members the church have,” Rusdal said.
But this all happened in February.
Is the new news that Norway is now demanding the money back? Wouldn’t criminal charges be made, first?
The article says the police raided the offices on February, but didn’t send the letter for the money until recently. Maybe they needed the time to pour over the names, or maybe the discussions between the church and the government went on for a few months and when that broke down they sent the written demand for the money. Of course, I’m completely speculating. I have no clue
Wouldn’t criminal charges be made, first?
I wouldn’t be surprised if potential criminal charges are still there hanging overhead to convince the church the best course of action would be to pay. Again, I’m totally speculating. My entire knowledge of Norse jurisprudence comes from that issue of Thor’s comic book where he was put on trial.
Edited because me no write good.
I guess the question is who is and who is not a Roman Catholic? Are the people in Catholics for Choice - are they Catholics? How many Catholics are there in Ireland today?
This is not a scenario you are probably thinking of. In a number northern European counties, mainly Scandinavian and German, the government collects a tax for the church you belong to. It may sound strange, but this is an old tradition. If a church is keeping people fraudulently on their rolls, they are getting church taxes they are not entitled to.
LOL…Thor’s comic book.
I get mine from…from….shoot, I don’t have any.
Your Thor know-how beats my no-know-how.
We could use a facepalm smiley.
On occasions like these, I feel like I belong to Possum Lodge rather than the Catholic Church. And I’m Harold. Watching Uncle Red get escorted to the police station for yet another dumb, illegal idea.
I hope to God there’s some better explanation than fraud, and that it really is just the Poles. But, of course, it wouldn’t be anything new. Actually, one could make the case it’s revenge. Still not a good thing, but it would make me feel a little less bad.
The whole notion of the State subsidising churches is absurd, and in fact dangerous to freedom.
Very true and agreed, my PNCC confrere.
The Catholic Church in Norway stands accused of defrauding the state of €5.7m by inflating membership numbers and could see its leading bishop face a six-year prison sentence.
Between 2010 and 2014, the Catholic Church in Norway is accused of bumping up membership numbers by as much as 65,000 in order to receive greater state subsidies, an Oslo police spokesperson told Newsweek.
Norwegian police have charged Bernt Ivar Eidsvig, the bishop of Oslo, along with the financial manager of Oslo diocese and the diocese itself, with gross economic fraud of up to 50m Norwegian krone (€5.7m).
It might be necessary to keep in mind the peculiar religious scenario in Norway in order to understand this scenario.
In the Scandinavian countries the Evangelical Lutheran Church is the official state church and it had a very very strong influence on Norwegian culture and life. It still really does on its culture, but since the 1960s, when Norway went from being a poor country to a rich country, its attendance has really dropped off. None the less, every Norwegian is regarded as being a member unless that person takes the step to be officially stricken from its rolls.
The King, and half the cabinet, must be Lutherans.
As the country was traditionally a poor one, but with strong social cohesion, the Lutheran Church had a very strong roll in the average Lutheran’s life up until a couple of generations ago. Here too in certain parts of the US this was true amongst Norwegian descendants. But it was a pretty dour church in some ways, and since money started flowing into Scandinavia post World War Two, the same thing that’s happened everywhere where money came in happened there. Norwegians started to stop being adherent. The Lutheran church in Scandinavian countries has almost uniformly attempted to accommodate the cultural shift by adopting liberal theologies, which hasn’t served to stem the tide at all (a lesson for Catholic Germans there).
In recent years there’s been a very slow increase in Catholics in Scandinavia. In part, that’s due to immigration from Eastern Europe. In part, however, it’s also because all of Scandinavia was Catholic up until the Protestant Reformation/Revolution, and its impossible to stamp that memory out completely. As people drawn to Christ find the Lutheran Church lacking, they naturally become curious about the Church that brought Christianity to the region in the first place and find that it hasn’t changed.
But the anti Catholic feelings that were brought into Scandinavia during the Reformation (long story, but there certainly wasn’t a desire for it from the pews) took root over centuries of anti Catholic propaganda. Scandinavian culture became very anti Catholic, and while it is now no longer very adherent to Lutheranism, it remains very anti Catholic.
I don’t know about the story here, but my strong suspicion is we’re going to see a lot more of this sort of thing in the next few decades. With all the social upheaval in the Western world, the only serious religions have become Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Islam, and they’re going to be the competitors for people’s souls. We’re already seeing Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholic churches on the rise again in Eastern Europe and we’re seeing a very slow reclamation by Catholicism in Scandinavia. Islam is making inroads everywhere in Western Europe. Once the current flood of social experimentation in North America does its damage, I suspect that the death of the Protestant churches will accelerate and these other faiths will be what principally remains as people begin to increase a search for actually satisfactory answers.
And ultimately harmful to the religion as well. State sponsorship hasn’t worked, long term, in most places where it exists and it hasn’t kept the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which has real state sponsorship, from suffering a massive decline in attendance.
Here’s another article on this issue that goes into a little more detail.
I wanted to give The Church the benefit of the doubt, but it admits that they were going through phone books and automatically counting as members anybody with a Polish name. They say that they stopped doing that in October and don’t think anything they’ve done is illegal.
As far as criminal charges:
“If we find that their knowledge and responsibility in this is so that there is enough to charge them after the investigation and put forward an indictment, then it would end up in court and the sentencing frame for this is six years in prison. It probably wouldn’t be that high but that’s the maximum,” says Rusdal [the Oslo police spokesperson].
And it’s quite common with Polish people that they are baptized, confirmed, and then they don’t want to have anything to do with the Church. So if the police calls them up and asks if they are a member of the Catholic Church in Norway, they will say no.
Part of the problem is that the Polish Church makes formal apostasy prohibitively difficult. It used to be that you could send a letter to the diocese, now you have to go to the office with two witnesses and hand in the declaration yourself. Nobody has got time for that.
With all the social upheaval in the Western world, the only serious religions have become Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Islam, and they’re going to be the competitors for people’s souls. We’re already seeing Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholic churches on the rise again in Eastern Europe and we’re seeing a very slow reclamation by Catholicism in Scandinavia. Islam is making inroads everywhere in Western Europe. Once the current flood of social experimentation in North America does its damage, I suspect that the death of the Protestant churches will accelerate and these other faiths will be what principally remains as people begin to increase a search for actually satisfactory answers.
Very interesting post altogether. Your prediction seems highly likely too. Thanks for contributing.
There has been a movement in the US to stop the property tax subsidy to Roman Catholic and other churches and to tax them.