The new president of the Church Fund was the guest of RTL Radio on Wednesday morning.
Six years after the separation of church and state, the Church Fund is still not profitable, according to Marianne Bausch, the new president of the fund. The fact that many churches were forced to close during the pandemic also had a financial impact, according to Bausch, who noted that church collections had dropped by 30%. Collections are one of the main sources of income for the Church Fund, in addition to donations and rent payments. Since the heating of religious buildings consumes a lot of energy and accounts for around 20% of the costs of the Church Fund, 2022 has also been a difficult year due to rising energy prices.
Social housing is no longer profitable enough
The Fund wishes to invest in real estate, in particular to secure its future financing. The plan is to build new structures on church-owned property and lease them to interested tenants. Originally, the objective was to build social housing, but this has been put on the back burner because “the construction conditions have changed” and are no longer “advantageous”. While it’s true that social housing is more in line with Christian ideals, Bausch noted that the Fund currently has no alternative but to become profitable and “learn to become independent.” The Fund provides that an annual budget of 8 million euros is necessary, which is “currently not possible with social housing”. Bausch, on the other hand, made it clear that she wasn’t ruling out the possibility that this could change in the future.
Church Fund has made procedures “more transparent and efficient”
Overall, the separation of church and state was a significant change for staff and the approximately 1,000 volunteers. Nonetheless, Bausch noted that the management of the Church Fund has improved since its inception and that procedures have become “more transparent and efficient.” For example, the church used to have hundreds of insurance policies for each individual church, whereas now there is only one policy that applies to all churches, according to Bausch. In total, there are 493 churches and chapels in Luxembourg. 356 of them belong to municipalities, 70% of which have signed an agreement with the Caisse de l’Eglise. A year and a half ago, this figure was still 50%. Bausch is optimistic that the number will continue to rise. The Fund itself owns 137 churches and chapels. Since the separation of Church and State, four churches and eleven chapels have been desecrated.
Marianne Bausch described the relationship with the state as “relaxed”.