Almudena Cathedral, in Madrid © Spanish Episcopal Conference

Catholic Church Generates 3% of Spain’s GDP in 2024 Thanks to Its Cultural Patrimony

Goods of cultural interest and religious festivities of tourist interest will have an impact in 2024 and will repeat the 3% of Spain’s GDP, according to economic data published by the Bishops

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(ZENIT News / Madrid, 09.01.2024).- The impact of the Church’s cultural activity on Spain reaches 3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, according to data of the Annual Report of the Activities of the Church.

According to analysts, in 2024 the country’s economic process will be marked by an increase in the cost of housing and inflation around 4%. Moreover, public spending will have repercussions on the population’s taxes, and the Church’s activity will be an oxygen boost for the economy and the field of finance.

The buildings, the institutions and religious festivities will also have repercussions in the cultural, social and educational realm. The Vice-Secretary of the Spanish Episcopal Conference’s Economic Affairs, Fernando Giménez Barriocanal, and the Directress of the Transparency Portal, Ester Martin, said that the Church’s patrimony is of “great wealth” for Spain.

The data of the Report of the Activities of the Church, published in December 2023, highlights the contribution of the Church’s cultural patrimony, which creates 225,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs. The stable real estate patrimony alone generated 22,620 million euros to the national GDP.

The Church’s great welfare endeavour benefitted 4 million people in 2022. Beyond its evangelizing work, with which it will continue to support and encourage the faithful facing personal limitations and social uncertainties, the Church’s Goods of Cultural Interest and the religious celebrations of Tourist Interest will be equal to more than 3% of Spain’s GDP.

The goods of cultural interest and religious festivities of tourist interest will have an impact in 2024 and will repeat the 3% in Spain’s GDP, according to the data published by the Bishops.

The calculation prepared by the KPMG auditor in 2014 leads to the figure the Spanish Episcopal Conference foresees every year, with a percentage created “from an input-output framework to calculate the indirect and induced impact.”

This percentage is established crossing the data of a sample of the 140 religious festivities in the whole of Spain, the access to Cathedrals and the Goods of UNESCO’s Patrimony and of Cultural Interest, as well as the estimates of the lodging, food, purchases, leisure, jobs and taxes generated. The forecast of the impact on the GDP remains intact for the year 2024.

If the economic flow is analyzed of pilgrimages, processions, Holy Week celebrations and popular feasts of a religious character, which have incalculable spiritual value, they generated economically in 2022, for example, 9,896 million euros and promoted close to 134,000 jobs, calculation that will be similar in 2024.

The investment of Spanish dioceses over the last ten years for the maintenance, construction and rehabilitation of its cultural patrimony, was 608 million euros. This investment has positive repercussions on the income of Spanish families, especially in rural areas. As a significant datum, the only Good of Cultural Interest in 500 municipalities of the whole of Spain is the Church’s buildings: shrines, hermitages, universities and monasteries. It is relevant that, of the 18,000 Goods of Cultural Interest in the country, 3,161 or 17% of the total, are of the Church.

Another fact is the economic movement produced by the 420 religious festivities in the category of National or International Tourist Interest, whose contribution in terms of income is decisive for the development of tourism, leisure, and  hostelry, especially in depopulated and deindustrialized regions.

The economic repercussion of the Church’s cultural patrimony in Spain is very high. Suffice it to compare it with the activity of Spanish cinema, which generated an impact estimated at 0.7% of GDP in 2022, according to the Ministry of Culture. Of equal importance is the Church’s cultural activity, not counting the repercussion of its educational, welfare and pastoral work, which in 2024 will generate more than triple produced by the film industry. If the impact of social improvement is added — created by the Church’s activity through evangelization which cannot be calculated in economic amounts –, its contribution to the country is invaluable.

Fernando Giménez Barriocanal, Treasurer of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, pointed out the ends of the Church’s cultural goods, although “the principal end is the religious.” To acknowledge and appreciate the Church’s cultural and educational role, with its “important social and economic impact,” merits reflecting on the support that this institution deserves, even if it’s only from the social point of view. Suffice it to mention the 134,000 jobs generated by the activities of conservation and care of the religious patrimony in Spain.

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Rafael Llanes

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