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Churches still getting money despite controversial bill termination

Interior of the Lutheran Kaarli kirik (St. Charles' Church) in Tallinn.
Interior of the Lutheran Kaarli kirik (St. Charles' Church) in Tallinn. Source: ERR

Churches are now due money from the state, as a bill aimed at utilising a damages fund for wartime and occupation restitution may well be abandoned, according to Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi (Centre).

"The bill doesn't have enough parliamentary support so will probably be terminated,''  Mr. Maggi said.

''We will probably use the state budget, which has an excess, instead, though details haven't been agreed yet," he added.

Millions originally earmarked

The government pledged €6.75 million to the Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) plus €1.5 million to the Apostolic Orthodox Church (EAOK) in December 2017, as compensation for damage to church properties during World War Two and the subsequent Soviet occupation.

However, the now moribund bill was stymied at its second reading at the Riigikogu in June by several Centre Members including Oudekki Loone, as well as former members Peeter Ernits and Olga Ivanova.

Using the ownership reform reserve fund, applicable to many properties, was inappropriate in the case of churches, the members found.

Money coming from elsewhere

"There is a consensus that churches should be granted money, which needs resolving," Mr. Mäggi said, adding that the details should be settled in time for churches to get funds of some kind before year end.

Tallinn City Government granted the Roman Catholic Church €125,000 in January, towards refurbishments of its Vene Street property ahead of Pope Francis' visit on 25 September.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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