The Catholic Church of Norway has admitted illegally registering thousands of foreigners to the church without asking their consent in a bid to win more government funding.
Since 2010, the number of registered members of the Roman Catholic Church has increased by 66,000 – to more than 120,000.
Many people may be members without knowing it, reported Dagbladet on Monday.
In a written report from Oslo Katolske Bispedømme (OKB – Roman Catholic Diocese of Oslo) to the county governor of Oslo and Akershus, it outlines a recruitment practice that the church itself calls “not satisfactory.”
Bishop Bernt Eidsvig wrote in the report: “During our meeting I described how a practice, revealed to have lasted for a few years, has resulted in foreigners moving to Norway from Catholic countries, and thereby assumed to be Catholics.
They were then registered as OKB members without agreeing to it themselves.” Eidsvig said to Dagbladet that several thousands could be wrongly registered as members.
The bishop said: “We are talking about at least a thousand, maybe many times that.”
High member numbers means the Catholic Church in Norway will next year receive around 130 million kroner ($20 million) from the Norwegian government.