AP Photos: Romania's Orthodox Church is target of protests

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AP Photos: Romania's Orthodox Church is target of protests
In this Oct. 24, 2015 picture, a priest blesses holy remains at the Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 24, 2015 picture, worshipers walk in line to touch holy remains outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 28, 2015 picture, a woman lifts a child to kiss a box containing holy remains outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 28, 2015 picture, priests drive near a temporary religious items fair outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, on the final day of the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 27, 2015 picture, a monk gestures by religious items on sale at a temporary fair outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 24, 2015 picture, women light candles at Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 28, 2015 picture, worshipers stand on the last stop before touching holy remains outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 27, 2015 picture, orthodox monks handle religious items on sale at a temporary fair outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 27, 2015 picture, a woman walks by religious items on sale at a temporary fair outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 24, 2015 picture, thousands wait in line as a priest walks to bless holy remains at the Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 27, 2015 picture, a monk sits by religious items on sale at a temporary fair outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 28, 2015 picture, a woman presses her forehead against a box containing holy remains outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 24, 2015 picture, a woman is back dropped by the painted wall of the Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 27, 2015 picture, women sell religious items at a temporary fair outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 28, 2015 picture, a plastic wrapped wooden cross is placed against a bench at a temporary religious items fair outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, on the final day of the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 24, 2015 picture, worshipers are back dropped by the painted wall of the Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 28, 2015 picture, religious items are on sale at a temporary religious items fair outside Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, on the final day of the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In this Oct. 24, 2015 picture, a man kneels while praying at the Romanian Patriarchy in Bucharest, Romania, during the Saint Dimitrie Bassarabov pilgrimage. The Romanian Orthodox Church, makes, according to media estimations and official fiscal records, the highest profit of all public institutions, mainly at five major annual pilgrimages from sales of religious items, like candles, a church monopoly, and people's donations. The Orthodox Church receives large state subsidies and church and profits are not taxed, with governments shy to challenge the influential institution's current status.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Protesters calling for an end to widespread corruption and better governance this week have turned their anger to the powerful and rich Romanian Orthodox Church in the wake of a nightclub fire which left more than 30 dead.

Public discontent with the church is at an all-time high after it failed to address an outpouring of national grief. Pressure is mounting for its financial privileges to be reviewed.

SEE ALSO: Romanian government resigns following protests

"We want hospitals, not cathedrals!" chanted tens of thousands of protesters this week.

Protesters want an end to hefty state subsidies to the nation's biggest church, to which 85 percent of Romanians belong, and for the church to pay tax. Other officially registered churches are also given subsidies.

The Humanist-Secular Association says Romania has 18,300 churches, compared with 4,700 schools and 425 hospitals. Many were built after communism ended and religious restrictions were lifted.

In 2014, an election year, the government allocated 12 million euros ($13 million) for the "Cathedral of the Salvation of the People" a giant church under construction in Bucharest, and 30 million euros ($32.4 million) for building and repairing other churches.

Governments have been wary of challenging the influential church, which some politicians rely on for political support.

Hundreds of thousands of believers attend the church's five major annual pilgrimages, and the church has a monopoly on the production of beeswax candles.

Believers pay fees for funerals, weddings and baptisms.

Related: See other protests against the Romanian government since the fire:

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Protests against Romanian government post fire
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AP Photos: Romania's Orthodox Church is target of protests
A man stands in front of a line of riot police during a protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Up to eight thousand people joined a protest against the endemic corruption affecting all levels of the administration, calling for the resignation of the government.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Children hold toy weapons during a protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Up to eight thousand people joined a protest against the endemic corruption affecting all levels of the administration, calling for the resignation of the government.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
People stand in Victory square during protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Up to eight thousand people joined a protest against the endemic corruption affecting all levels of the administration, calling for the resignation of the government.(Andreea Alexandru, Mediafax via AP) ROMANIA OUT
A man holds a Romanian flag during a protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Up to eight thousand people joined a protest against the endemic corruption affecting all levels of the administration, calling for the resignation of the government.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Riot policemen run to reinforce the lines during a protest in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Up to eight thousand people joined a protest against the endemic corruption affecting all levels of the administration, calling for the resignation of the government.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Romanians protest against the political class and Romanian authorities as over 10000 people gather in a protest and march to the government headquarters following the death at Colectiv club in Bucharest November 3, 2015. More then 30 people died and nearly 200 were injured in an explosion followed by a fire, which took place on October 30, 2015 at a club during a music concert , where at that time there were hundreds people. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
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