Religious funds. Funds established in the Habsburg Empire in the 1780s by Emperor Joseph II out of assets confiscated from churches and monasteries. They covered the expenditures mainly of the Catholic church, but also of the Orthodox church in Bukovyna. The funds provided for the needs of the eparchies and the chapters of cathedral clergy, and for the education and supplemental income of the clergy. For a brief time there was a single fund administered by a special imperial council; later, separate funds were established for each crown land. In Western Ukraine there were religious funds for Galicia and Bukovyna; Transcarpathia was eligible for the Hungarian religious fund.
In Galicia the fund was quickly dispensed and largely wasted because of the sale of church objects for excessively low prices, and because of the corruption of its administrators. The central government eventually ended up subsidizing the fund annually to cover expenditures.
The religious fund for Bukovyna was large and well run. It was gathered from 14 monasteries and consisted largely of forests, arable land, and fish ponds, totaling over 200,000 ha or almost 20 percent of all of the crown land. It was administered by the Orthodox metropoly in Chernivtsi and gave support to monasteries, schools, and parishes. It provided funds for the construction of the metropolitan’s residence (now the main campus of Chernivtsi University) and a large cathedral. It also financed a number of secondary schools, a theological institute, and the theology faculty at Chernivtsi University from 1875.
After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the landholdings in the religious funds were divided among Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia. In Romania the fund remained in the jurisdiction of the Bukovynian metropolitan’s consistory, and the state reserved the right to review its activities.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine