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Bulgaria: bill on religions. Mgr. Proykov, “If approved, it will put Catholics in a very difficult situation”

“The Catholic Church in Bulgaria is deeply concerned about the bill on religions which would put the Catholic community in a very difficult situation”, Christo Proykov, apostolic exarch and president of the Bulgarian Bishops, told SIR news agency. The amendments tabled this week would allow the State to finance those religions whose followers account for more than 1% of the population to the tune of about €5 per individual believer. Foreign funding, however, shall be banned for all religions unless previously authorised by the Directorate of Religious Affairs. “This is divisive to religions that have been present in Bulgaria for centuries”, Mgr. Proykov said, for “only the Orthodox Church and Muslims will receive state funding”. And “as donations from abroad are restricted, Catholics will be strongly affected”, he added. According to the last census, 60% of believers in Bulgaria are Orthodox, 8% Muslim – Sunni and Shiite – while Catholics account for 0.66% of the population and Protestants 0.87%. “The State has always tried to be tolerant of religious minorities – the president of the Bulgarian Bishops stated – by promoting mutual respect and dialogue, but this tolerance will be severely undermined if the bill is not amended”.

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