The government of Serbia has decided to allocate almost 2.5 million euro from the current budget reserve as ‘financial aid’ for the Serbian Orthodox Church, i.e. for the three Orthodox dioceses of Kragujevac, Niš and Bosanski Petrovac.
Judging by the decision published in the Official Gazette, at least part of that money is intended to prevent and mitigate the consequences of COVID-19.
Years ago, the Government of Serbia helped the Serbian Orthodox Church both through regular and extraordinary donations from the state budget reserve. This time, at its 27 May session, the government decided to pay 289.3 million dinars or 2.46 million euro from the budget reserve to the Church for three dioceses: the Šumadija Diocese in Kragujevac received 88.6 million, the Diocese of Niš 141.6 million dinars, while the Diocese of Bihać-Petrovac received 59.1 million dinars.
What is even more striking, however, is the fact that these millions are separate funds from those intended for the prevention and mitigation of the consequences of COVID-19.
The Government explains that the money is paid in the form of a donation, i.e. as ‘financial aid’. Until now, the Serbian government has paid funds to the Serbian Orthodox Church for various reasons – to help build or rebuild monasteries, to fix churchyards, etc, because the Church has been in a “difficult situation”.
The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, has confirmed that, in the last three and a half years alone, the State has allocated at least 43 million euro for the construction of the Temple of St. Sava.
Thus, at the beginning of July last year, the government decided first to pay out a billion dinars from the budget reserve, or about 8.5 million euro for the work on the Temple, and then a week later, to set aside another 200 million dinars or 1.7 million euro for the same purpose.
The decision on perhaps the largest donation to the Church was made in April, when about 14.5 million euro was paid for the completion of the Temple, while in March 2019, 10 million euro was set aside for the continuation of the Temple construction work. However, this is only a part of the money allocated from Serbia’s budget for the Church.
For example, in July 2019, the government approved a donation of 59.1 million dinars or about 500,000 euro to the Serbian Orthodox Church to renovate the Holy Trinity Church in Mostar.
As reported by ‘Insider’, in early May of the same year, 12 million dinars was paid from the budget to help build an Orthodox monastery in Sweden, and 18 million dinars was approved to help the Church complete the works of the Diocesan Museum in Szentendre, Hungary.
In the same month, the government decided to help the Gornja Karlovačka diocese in Croatia with 234,000 euro to be used towards the construction and renovation of the Orthodox temple in Vrginmost.
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