Barcelona: parishes are considerably reduced
The Archdiocese of Barcelona, Spain, has just announced the closure of 160 parishes out of the 208 existing. The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic dealt a fatal blow to the finances of a diocese long affected by the tsunami of secularization.
Hard awakening for the Catholics of Barcelona: the archbishop, Cardinal Juan José Omella, has just announced a drastic plan to reduce the number of parishes.
One hundred and sixty parishes out of the 208 of the ecclesiastical district will have to close their doors: a measure which will take effect gradually, once the titular priest has reached the legal retirement age, fixed by canon law at seventy-five years.
As for the 48 remaining parishes, they will be renamed “pastoral communities” and will concentrate all the activities carried out within the previous structures, whose buildings, and if necessary the churches, can be put on sale.
Thus, the archdiocese has already ceded land belonging to the parish of Saint-Isidore to the neighboring hospital: several thousand square meters of land and buildings with which the health establishment can expand.
In Catalonia, as elsewhere in Spain, the breath of renewal that Vatican II was supposed to breathe was not enough to stem the secularization movement that had operated in the kingdom for several decades, and has increased in recent years.
Barcelona has the sad privilege of being the region where Catholicism has faded the most on the peninsula: 56.6% of the inhabitants declare themselves Catholic, of which 20% are observers.
The autonomous region of Catalonia is also the one with the fewest baptisms, communions, marriages or priestly vocations. Even the part of the contribution that goes to the Church is at its lowest.
The income tax declaration hides a particularity inherited from history: when they complete their tax declarations, Spanish taxpayers can tick a box allowing 0.7% of their taxes to go to social solidarity. , or to the Catholic Church.
However, in all of Spain, it is in Catalonia that the “Church” box is the least checked on the income tax return.
Note: Please note that this tax is mandatory. Those who do not tick either of the two boxes will see the sum corresponding to 0.7%, allocated to social solidarity, and to the Church, according to the proportion of those who have ticked a box. Thus, in 2020, nearly 30% of taxpayers checked the Church box. We must therefore add 30% of those who have not checked anything.
Finally, it should be noted that, for the year 2020, this tax has increased dramatically, probably due to the Church’s aid to the poor. Indeed, the total amount increased by 5.9% compared to 2019. But the situation is likely to deteriorate in 2021 due to the effects of the health crisis.