eurel     Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà
Vous êtes ici : Accueil » Portugal » Droit et religion » Domaines spécifiques » Financement des religions » Parcours historique

Parcours historique

In Portugal, until the advent of liberalism in the first quarter of the 19th century, historical records show that the Catholic Church (hereinafter referred to as the “Church”) owned about half of the national wealth. Its property was inalienable and was virtually exempt from taxation. The Church still received tithes and other revenues, free of taxes. However, with the advance of liberalism and republicanism between 1832 and 1910 and, in particular, with the Laws of Disestablishment (1834) - the disposal of the Church’s assets and the dissolution of religious orders - a large proportion of ecclesiastical property was nationalised. Clerics were left without means of support and the State then granted them pensions, thus turning them into employees of the State.

This policy was continued throughout the constitutional monarchy (1820-1910) and during the regime of separation established by the First Republic (1911). The Law of Separation nationalised all the Church’s assets and the parishes initiated a process of restructuring, with the creation of religious associations.

In 1918, this began to change, especially under the mandate of President Sidónio Pais, who allowed followers of all religious communities to create corporations, according to their internal regulations. The end of the First Republic (1926), the rise to power of António Salazar (1933), and the Concordat of 1940 confirmed the principle of free organisation of the Church and, consequently, the creation of religious bodies which were recognised by the State as having their own legal status. The Concordat allowed the Church to recover some real estate and guaranteed it exemption from taxes on ecclesiastical property, on the remuneration of priests and on the occupation of several positions in education and spiritual support (subsidised by the State).

The transition to democracy that started in 1974 and the Constitution of the Third Portuguese Republic in 1976 did not grant religions any system of subsidies (Article 41). Nevertheless, the preservation of the 1940 Concordat and all the financial and fiscal provisions to the Church after the democratic transition, as well as the immigration phenomena (Muslims from Africa ; Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe and Evangelical Christians from Brazil) and the growth of religious minorities, led the Portuguese government to pass a Religious Freedom Act (RFA) in 2001. In this RFA, all religious institutions registered in Portugal benefit from the tax-free contribution regime and the tax benefits of Articles 31 and 32. This law led Portugal to a new Concordat with the Vatican in 2004. The provisions of this new Concordat are similar to the RFA in terms of financial support for the Church (Article 26), tax exemptions and benefits. However, there are some specific features reserved for the Church, such as its possible inclusion in the tax collection system (Article 27), the tax exemption of the ecclesiastical authority responsible for funds destined for the Church (Article 26/4) and support for the Catholic University of Portugal (Article 21/3).

See also :
- BRITO, José de Sousa e, « Le financement des communautés religieuses au Portugal", in Brigitte Basdevant-Gaudemet et Salvatore Berlingò (eds.), The Financing of Religious Communities in the European Union, 1ère ed., Trier, Institute for European Constitutional Law, 2009, p. 287-294.
- MONIZ, Jorge Botelho, “O financiamento público da religião na Europa católica pós-crise”, Ius Ecclesiae, Rivista internazionale di Diritto Canonico, 28, 1, 2016, p. 79-112.
- PIRES, Manuel, “Aspectos fiscais”, in Manuel Saturnino Gomes (coord.), Estudos sobre a Nova Concordata. Santa Sé – República Portuguesa, 18 de Maio de 2004, col. Lusitânia Canónica, 11, 1ª ed., Lisboa : Universidade Católica Editora, 2006, p.120-147.

D 19 décembre 2017    AHelena Vilaça AJorge Botelho Moniz

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

Suivez nous :
© 2002-2023 eurel - Contact