.- A finance official for the Spanish bishops noted that Catholic schools save the country more than $4.5 billion U.S. dollars, as they provide education for some 1.3 million students.
In comments to the Cope radio network on Feb. 16, Fernando Gimenez Barriocanal – the Vice Secretary for Economic Affairs of the Spanish bishops' conference – also noted that the Church provides “hundreds of millions” of dollars in health care, aid to immigrants and to victims of domestic violence, soup kitchens and rehabilitation for drug addicts, reported Europa Press.
He also discussed a recent poll that suggested that the Church's position in Spanish society is weakening but said the “most important poll” on public opinion is the fact that 9.2 million taxpayers in Spain make a contribution of 0.7 percent of their taxes to the Catholic Church.
In his estimation, the increasing figure is “a very important step” for the Church in the country.
Barriocanal explained that a significant portion of these funds go to maintaining the 22,700 parishes, the work of evangelization and aid to bishops' conferences in the third world and the Holy See or Caritas – which has received a 25 percent increase in assistance from the Spanish bishops during the country’s economic crisis.
He added that the situation facing Spaniards would be much worse without the work of Caritas, as many career professionals are out of work and are eating in Church-run soup kitchens and receiving help to pay their utility bills.
Priests live “modestly” and do not receive a salary, he noted, except for those who work in schools, institutes or other educational institutions. They live on what the bishop designates from them according to Canon Law, which in Spain is around $1100 per month.