August 12, 2015 (Source: http://inserbia.info)
[Originally reported on May 16]
BELGRADE – Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) is one the most successful “companies” in Serbia, and according to revenue is in third place, just behind NIS (Oil Industry of Serbia) and EPS (Electric Industry of Serbia), writes Serbian daily “Blic”.
Of course, SPC is not registered as a company, but 40 dioceses annually collect about 140 million euros, according to a survey conducted by “Blic”.
The Church is unaccountable for its financial statements, not even to the public. That is why, with the help of insiders in the top of the Patriarchate of the SPC, the daily tried to discover one of their biggest secrets.
When it comes to SPC financies, only a few details are known to the public. Metropolitan Amfilohije revealed that the Monastery Ostrog in 2014 earned 2.4 million euros, and that this year the budget of the Metropolitanate is 770,000 euros. And bishop of Zica Justin dismissed the abbot of the Monastery Zica because she did not pay the “tax” of 30,000 euros per year to the eparchy.
In times of crisis eparches of the SOC were one of the biggest investors. The money was invested in hotels, wineries, agriculture, because the state does not charge taxes on the revenue from selling candles, religious rites, space rent. Of all of these revenues in 40 dioceses annually comes between 130 and 150 million euros, reveals one of the insiders from the top of the SPC.
Another insider explains that “an eparchy can earn up to five million euros per year” just from selling candles and religious rites.
A business developed by the majority of dioceses, from which they earn well, should be added here. Within the church complex buildings are rented, land is leased, industrial facilities, wineries are opened. Only the Diocese of Zahum-Herzegovina exports to the USA about 100,000 bottles of its wine, explained the insider.
Regardless of the crisis, most of the money comes to the Church from donors. Specifically, “a religious fad” has brought prosperity to the Church.
New believers belive that they will wash away their sins if they donate to the church, so large amounts of money goes to the diocese. In one Belgrade church, a known criminal found his name on the list of donors, the same one who a few years ago was killed in an ambush. This honor was given to him on the basis of the donation of 500,000 euros, explained one of the most respected bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who insisted to remain anonymous.