For four years the Catholic Church in Norway has been illegally registering immigrants as Catholics in order to secure increased government funding. The Church, whose official membership has almost doubled since 2010, had been registering immigrants from Catholic-majority countries as practicing Catholics, without asking for their consent, and without any indication that the people in questions were actually practicing Catholics.
Why would they do that, other than bragging rights?
In Norway, religions receive a state subsidy based on their membership. Religious groups can choose to register with the state in order to receive this financial support, which is distributed proportionally to the official registered membership figures. … By increasing their membership from 66,000 in 2010, to 120,000 in 2014, the Norwegian Catholic Church has significantly increased the amount of state subsidy it receives.
Bernt Eidsvig, the Bishop of Oslo, put the number of questionable registrations at
… “at least a thousand, maybe many times that.”
The almost-doubling in membership could be worth as much as $22 million to the Church. The padres now acknowledge the practice of automatically counting immigrants as Catholics is “not satisfactory.”
Maybe the affair will prompt a much-needed overhaul of the way the Norwegian government cozies up to the faithful.
Norway has been steadily moving towards complete disestablishment over the years. Despite this, citizens born in Norway to one or two Norwegian parents are automatically added to the list of Protestant Christians in Norway, unless they choose to opt out or officially join another religious organization.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the tip)