The government of Norway is demanding $5.1 million from the Oslo diocese, in compensation for what the government sees as fraud in the inflated reporting of Church membership figures. The government charges that the Oslo diocese obtained nearly $6 million in state subsidies by routinely registering immigrants as Catholics if they came from predominantly Catholic countries, without obtaining any evidence of the immigrants’ actual affiliations.
The government charges that of the 65,500 new Catholics registered by the Oslo diocese between 2010 and 2014, more than 56,000 were not confirmed as Catholics.
After a government raid on diocesan offices in February, Church officials conceded that they had used “unsatisfactory” methods of identifying members of the Catholic Church, but denied “any conscious or intentional fraud.”
The diocese has indicated that it plans to appeal the assessment of $5.1 million, saying that the case is “legally complicated.”