Spanish Twitter users are accusing the Catholic Church of prioritizing its presence in the media over traditional relief work. Others say the criticism is hypocritical.
The Catholic Church's television finances in Spain has caused an outpouring of criticism on social media Monday after a Spanish newspaper, "El Diario," revealed that the Spanish Episcopal Conference has been giving €10 million ($14.04 million) per year since 2010 to a TV channel it majority-owns. The 13TV channel has also accumulated an additional €40 million ($43 million) in debt.
By comparison, Caritas, the Church’s official charity and humanitarian organization, is endowed with six million euros ($6.4 million) each year by the Conference.
On Twitter, Spanish users accused the Church of prioritizing its presence in the media over its traditional relief work.
Some also criticized the channel’s editorial line, defined on its website as "defending Christian humanism":
A user from Cordoba posts a picture of a churchgoer giving alms, then wrote sarcastically: "Thank you brother… for helping finance the 10 million euro [budget] for 13TV“
Another implied that bishops' personal ambitions were getting in the way of charity work:
"Caritas helps the poor get food. 13TV helps bishops make their sermons heard. Why are we surprised?“
Alicante-based professor Carlos Gomez Gil added that, "When Bishops spend [a yearly] 10 million on fascist 13TV [and] 6 million on Caritas [they] finance social tension in the face of emergency“
But in the historically religious country, where roughly three quarters of the population identify as Catholic, many came to the Church's defense.
Some praised Caritas' work and wondered whether those who criticized the dispersion of funds actually give to charity.
Writing from the Grand Canary islands, a user named Sara tweeted: "People complain the Church does not give more money to 13TV than to Caritas, but they are still giving, right? And you selfish people are not giving a cent"
Others took issue with the critique of the Church's charity work:
Spanish user Sofia writes: "The people that criticize the Church for giving money to Caritas have no idea of the great work it does humanizing the poor"