Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Court says Catholic church tax can fund family planning centre

pregnant woman
Catholics in eastern Switzerland have been helping to fund a family planning centre. Keystone

A Swiss Catholic diocese has lost a legal battle to withdraw funding from a counselling centre that offers family planning advice. The Swiss Federal Court ruled that the funding did not violate church law or religious freedom.

The action was brought by the Catholic Diocese of ChurExternal link in eastern Switzerland. It objected to church taxes being used to support the adebar counselling centreExternal link, which gives advice on sex, relationships and pregnancy.

The dispute dates back to a 2012 budget decision by the regional Catholic church to give the centre CHF15,000 ($15,100) – on the condition that the money would not be used in connection with abortions, advice on abortions, or the ‘morning after’ pill.

But the diocese – which oversees parishes in Graubünden as well as in cantons Zurich, Glarus, Nidwalden, Obwalden Schwyz and Uri – took exception. Arguing that the Roman Catholic Church disapproved of the funding, it approached both the Graubünden regional church and later the Graubünden Administrative Court. Both rejected the diocese’s request to withdraw the support, so the diocese took the case to the federal level.

+ Homophobic comments by the bishop of Chur have also been the subject of a court case

On Wednesday, federal judges ruledExternal link that helping a family planning centre did not violate state church law or religious freedom. As the court pointed out, the funds came from the local community of Catholics – and not from the Roman Catholic Church. It added that the condition excluding abortion-related services tackled the concerns of the religious leaders.

In Switzerland, the authorities automatically collect taxes on behalf of nationally-recognised religions. Then the regional church branches can decide what to do with the money.

“As a consequence, Catholic church taxpayers can expect that their funds can be used for activities that are distant from or hostile to the church,” complained the diocese in a statementExternal link released on Wednesday.

Switzerland has six Catholic dioceses, and about 36% of the Swiss population is Catholic.

More

More

Catholic condom campaign sparks controversy

This content was published on At the same time, a Catholic mission is hosting a road show that educates young people about Aids in Africa. From Monday until Wednesday, a multimedia exhibition staged in a truck outside the main railway station illustrated the harsh reality of life in Uganda and in South Africa, where HIV and Aids are a severe…

Read more: Catholic condom campaign sparks controversy



Most Read
Swiss Abroad

Most Discussed

News

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI swissinfo.ch certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here . Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at english@swissinfo.ch.

SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR