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German bishops defend exclusion of Catholics who stop paying tax

By on Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg

The German bishops’ conference has defended a decree that said Catholics who stop paying a Church membership tax should not receive sacraments.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, conference president, said: “There must be consequences for people who distance themselves from the Church by a public act.”

“Clearly, someone withdrawing from the Church can no longer take advantage of the system like someone who remains a member,” he said at a September 24 press conference as the bishops began a four-day meeting in Fulda. “We are grateful Rome has given completely clear approval to our stance.”

The archbishop said each departure was “painful for the Church”, adding that bishops feared many Catholics were unaware of the consequences and would be “open to other solutions”.

“The Catholic Church is committed to seeking out every lost person,” said Archbishop Zollitsch, whose remarks were reported by Germany’s Die Welt daily.

“At issue, however, is the credibility of the Church’s sacramental nature. One cannot be half a member or only partly a member. Either one belongs and commits, or one renounces this,” Archbishop Zollitsch said.

Catholics make up 30 per cent of Germany’s population of 82.3 million, about the same proportion as Protestants, with two per cent belonging to Orthodox denominations, according to government figures.

Interest in the Catholic Church revived after German-born Pope Benedict XVI’s April 2005 election, but Church baptisms and weddings continue to decline. Church statistics show that about 13 per cent of Catholics attend Mass weekly, compared with 22 per cent in 1989.

Germany’s Catholic priesthood and religious orders are also declining in number, according to a bishops’ statement in June, despite three visits by Pope Benedict since his election.

A total of 126,488 Catholics asked to stop paying the membership tax and be removed from registers in the 27 German dioceses during 2011, according to the bishops’ conference. In 2010, some 180,000 Catholics took the same step.

German newspapers said the Pope’s native Bavaria region had suffered the worst losses. The dioceses of Augsburg, Bamberg, Eichstatt, Passau and Wurzburg reported a 70 per cent increase in departures in 2010, the height of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Introduced in the 19th century, the membership tax earns the German church about $6 billion annually, making it one of the world’s wealthiest.

In its decree, the bishops’ conference said the tax was designed to compensate for state seizures of Church property. The decree said the right to a “civil law withdrawal” ensured “no one is led to Church membership against their will”.

“Conscious dissociation from the Church by public act is a grave offence against the Church community,” the decree said.

“Whoever declares their withdrawal for whatever reason before the responsible civil authority always violates their duty to preserve a link with the Church, as well as their duty to make a financial contribution so the Church can fulfil its tasks.”

The document added that departing Catholics could no longer receive the sacraments of penance, Holy Communion, Confirmation or anointing of the sick, other than when facing death, or exercise any Church function, including belonging to parish councils or acting as godparents.

Marriages would be granted only by a bishop’s consent and unrepentant Catholics would not be given Church funerals, the decree said.

A press release said the decree had been approved in August by the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. It added that parish priests would be asked to write to departing Catholics, inviting them to meet and explain their decision and have the consequences explained.

The decree was criticised by Germany’s dissenting We are Church movement, which said a “pay and pray” policy sent “the totally wrong signal at the wrong time” when the German bishops were “laboriously trying to regain credibility” after a “decades-long cover-up of abuse scandals”.

“Instead of considering the reasons why large numbers are leaving the Church on the ground, this bishops’ decree sends a threatening message,” the statement said.

“This threatened exclusion from community life is a de facto excommunication. It contradicts the sacramental understanding of indelible Church membership through baptism.”

In an address to the bishops’ meeting, Archbishop Zollitsch said the Church needed “a long perspective, deep breath and patience” to cope with current challenges, as well as a capacity for dialogue with “social groups and circles alienated from the Church”.

  • Irene

    Finally! At last, I can take a deep breath of GREAT RELIEF! We have recently been informed that iN Denmark, where we are living, 70 %(!!!) of the parishioners in several parishes, the vast majority being Polish and/or of Polish origin, are not paying any tax whatsoever, or contributing in any way economically! While other catholics, in no way better off than most of these non contributing “catholics”, are carrying all the weight, gladly and freely. All right, love your neighbour, but, please, this is nothing but a roaring scandal! It is a mockery towards the contributing catholics. The Church prouds itself of always standing up fot the Truth, and rightly so, but what about the issue of non contributing “catholics”?! as soon as one tries to address this scandalous issue, most people look embarrassed, not because they would be such marvellously good catholics, but simply because they never, ever dare to speak up on anything, except when it comes to discussing with great earnest and interest the  coffee gatherings after Sunday Mass. (Where, by the way, I have never, ever, heard one single catholic talking about anything spiritual, and, sad to say, the priests do not differ, sad to say. They seem just as delighted in taking part of meaningless chattering. As converts to the glorious catholic Church, this has deeply saddened and disappointed us.)  
    And in Spain, we have read that hundreds of thousands of “catholics” without a twinkling of the eye borrow 3.000 euro to pay for all the pomp around the confirmation of their children, to impress their friends and neighbours; while many of the same”catholics” without shame, or so it seems, put maybe some small coin in the collection box on Sunadays. And I am NOT talking of the widow in the Gospel, who spent her last coin, all that she had left. That is a completely different thing. “But how do you know who is really poor or not”, I can already hear the accusations. Well, just look at peoples cars, observe their habits, and- the usually very expensive and fancy mobiles! I see them in the hands of almost everyone! I usually buy a mobile for around 25 euro and I am doing fine with an ordinary mobile like that!
    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate Bishop Zollitsch and this decision; just IMAGINE what S:t Paul would have said about “catholics” who openly and proudlly refuse to pay any tax to the Church!! All the while many of those “catholics” apparently do not feel the least ashamed of this instead, shamelessly taking advantage of the various services the Church offers; as if one could cheat God! There are far too many hypocrites out there and far too few faithful catholics who dare to speak up on this smameful attitude.
    THANK YOY BISHOP ZOLLITSC!! WE LOVE YOU!  

  • teigitur

    Whilst I have no sympathy for “we are Church”. I fear they are correct on this. In addition we have the Catholic Church in Germany to thank for many of the ills in the worldwide Church over the past 40 plus years. Though we must also be glad for the present (German) Holy Father.

  • Yourcountryneedsu

    ‘membership tax earns the German church about $6 billion annually’ is an impressive number but hardly an impressive fact.40 years ago I opted out of paying this tax when working there. But I am more than happy to make  voluntary contributions to the parish and church related charities to-day.
    ‘Pay church tax, pray and obey’ sends out a totally wrong message. 
    A financially bloated clergy is what it appears to suggest and the clerical abuse thing makes the whole thing look seedy indeed.
    Humility should be the goal not money.

  • LocutusOP

    This is a grievous mistake.

    Contributing to the church should be entirely disassociated from civil registers. It’s perverse that the practice was allowed to develop in the first place but even more perverse that the bishops would issue this ultimatum instead of discontinuing the practice. 

    I am not against saying that those who do not contribute should not receive sacraments (although trading sacraments for money seems downright wrong and sacrilegious) but forcing the state into the collection of these contributions would seem to go against the Gospel in all manner of ways.

    I am surprised the Vatican gave its approval on this given that Pope Benedict in “The Light Of The World” seemed to suggest the opposite.

  • scary goat

    Anybody know how this Church tax works? How much is it? Is it income related? Where does it go? Does it stay in Germany or is it for the whole Church (funding poorer countries etc)?

    It did say in the article that the German Church is one of the most wealthy….so are the Church taxes too high?

    I don’t know.  It sounds logical. If you walk away from the Church and wilfully don’t contribute, then what is your right to benefit from what it offers at the expense of others? But somehow it doesn’t sound right.  It sounds very mercenary.  It gives the wrong impression.  We have the same thing here….non-practicing Catholics send their children to Catholic schools and it’s the church-going ones who contribute financially, but no-one says anything.  It’s better to have the kids in the school than not. 

    I suppose if you have a “Church-tax” system, then it’s logical to exclude those who wilfully exclude themselves, but, to be honest, I don’t like the whole idea of “Church-tax”.  Voluntary contributions sounds much nicer. People of good will DO contribute, and not only cash, what about the voluntary work people do?

    Although it’s an arguable point, and I can see the logic in it, I just don’t like how it sounds and I would worry about the impression it gives. 

    More details about exactly how it works might help. I don’t know….I don’t like it, not really. :-(

  • Adsum

    This does appear on different levels to run contrary to the spirit of the Gospels and the compassion of Christ which is urgent and Graceful and is offered freely and not as reward for payment of tax or simony or whatever pecuniary exchange one may conceive.  The increasing ‘hardline’ combative stance of the Church is alarming, smacks of arrogance and is so different from the expression of the Ministry of Christ as the Gospels depict it.  Certainly Christ was uncompromising concerning the sin but urgent in the welcome of the sinner.  In this case the sin may be the arrogance of the Church which a principled Catholic may resist in refusing the imposed tax.  The freedom offered by Christ is relevant here and may find unexpected or unwonted expression.

  • teigitur

    There is “the Vatican”…and then there is “the Holy Father”. That much I have learned in the past few years.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    This is simony, isn’t it? No money, no Sacraments. 

    I would have thought this could be challenged in Canon Law. A withdrawal from tax payment is not a formal renunciation of baptism (it may be, but in and of itself the withdrawal is not such).

    Apparently the lifestyle of German Bishops and clergy is vastly better than most others in the world (as a result of this tax) and the message they are giving is that their worry is primarily the loss of this material well-being. 

    The crumbling of the modern, post-Vatican II nu-Church continues apace. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Some good articles, including the history of this tax, can be found on Mundabor’s blog. 

  • Hermit

    It is a fact that one of the Church’s precepts for Catholics is to give to the Church one tenth of their earnings. Of course, today probably one-tenth means a lot. So theologians explain that precept as to give what we can to help the Church. We all know that the Church needs financial help to carry out her mission. So it is our duty to give.

    On the other hand the Church must not appear before Catholics as her members and the world in general as if she were a tax collector, and worse, prohibiting those who do not pay from the sacraments. I think such a step is too harsh and will have its repurcussions.

    And I ask, why is it in Germany that this is taking place? The Church needs financial help all over the world. In other countries bishops encourage Catholics to help, while leaving them free to give as much as they want and if they want to.  

  • tim

    For historical reasons, churches in Germany are supported by the state taxing their members.  If you are a church member, you are obliged (by the state) to pay the tax.  You may avoid it by a formal declaration that you are no longer a member.  Should the Church ignore such a declaration?  On what basis? If it is done for proper motives (shame at perceived abuses, for example) it should be respected.  If it is done simply to save money, it is disgraceful. To deny your religion when threatened by torture is understandable – to do it for tax planning purposes is scandalous.

  • JabbaPapa

    Germany’s dissenting We are Church movement … said :

    “This threatened exclusion from community life is a de facto excommunication.

    WRONG — it’s not de facto, it’s just a perfectly straightforward excommunication latae sententiae.

    It contradicts the sacramental understanding of indelible Church
    membership through baptism.”

    WRONG — excommunicated Catholics cannot receive the Sacraments, but they may still continue to attend Mass (though they must refrain from taking the Eucharist until they have confessed and repented of their sins).

  • JabbaPapa

    This is simony, isn’t it? No money, no Sacraments.

    No it isn’t —

    a) people with too low income to be eligible to pay taxes won’t be paying this one either

    b) Paying tithes to the Church is a requirement of all of those who can do so — whereas Simony is the heresy whereby those unsuited to receive one or more Sacraments can receive them anyway by bribes to the clergy

  • John M

     I am an Irish citizen living in Germany and can tell you exactly how it works. it is a form of monthly income tax that is automatically deducted from your pay by the state. If you are “registered Catholic” you have no choice. It’s automatic and shows up on your paystub as “Kirchensteuer”.  The amount is equivalent to about  9% of your after tax income.  Figure between 25 and 50 euros a month for your average person.  The only way to get out of the tax is to go to a *German* magistrate, which is a civil servant whose only job it is is to handle “Church-departures”  (Kirchenaustretungen).  Everyone who works in Germany has a “tax card”. This card is issued by the German tax authorities and your religion is noted on it. When I first came to Germany I was not aware of this, and the first question out of the woman’s mouth was what my religion was, and like a fool I told the truth. I then, as an Irish Catholic, had to go through the process of  “departure” via a the German magistrate, to whose face I stated that the German government does not have the authority to determine whether an Irish (or any other foreign Catholic) citizen is or is not Catholic.  Shortly after freeing myself from this tax, I received a letter from a local parish priest stating that I was no longer permitted to consider myself Roman Catholic.  I had no intention of ever leaving the Catholic Church and even received written confirmation from my local parish priest in Ireland that I was indeed still Catholic regardless of any taxes or levies paid in Germany.  I have a real problem with  church tax here in Germany and how both the Church and the *German* state have colluded to force people to pay money. Since when is the German government representative of the Catholic Church worldwide? Why should a Brit, Paddy, Pole, Mexican, Italian, American etc. be “excommunicated” from the Catholic Church simply because they happen to temporarily residing in Germany soil and opt not to pay a tax? I have nothing against making donations to the Church, but I in no way support and outright refuse to pay it via a mandatory German government levied tax.   Sorry if I sound like I am ranting, but I am directly affected by this German Church tax and I am not even German. To me this seems like something that should be illegal under EU law, but I think I have ranted enough for today.

  • Nycjpm

     BTW,  I have nothing against personal donations, and the Church could send out envelopes or pass around the basket, run hospitals or any number of other things to make money. But THIS TAX is wrong.

  • JabbaPapa

    I think these are pertinent :

    Can. 221 §1. The Christian faithful can legitimately vindicate and defend the rights which they possess in the Church in the competent ecclesiastical forum according to the norm of law.

    §2. If they are summoned to a trial by a competent authority, the Christian faithful also have the right to be judged according to the prescripts of the law applied with equity.

    §3. The Christian faithful have the right not to be punished with canonical penalties except according to the norm of law.

    Can. 222 §1. The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers.

    §2. They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources.

    Can. 223 §1. In exercising their rights, the Christian faithful, both as individuals and gathered together in associations, must take into account the common good of the Church, the rights of others, and their own duties toward others.

    §2. In view of the common good, ecclesiastical authority can direct the exercise of rights which are proper to the Christian faithful.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    There is the Collection Plate for contributions. A State system of taxation arising out of the mess of Bismarck’s Kulturkampf is a different thing altogether. 

    This is simple simony which is absolutely forbidden.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Of course it’s bloody simony. 
    “Pay up through a State system of taxation or you don’t get the Sacraments”. What else IS it? 

    Such a State system is peculiar to Germany for historical reasons. The clergy there have grown fat on the proceeds. Times are changing: some people are leaving the system through financial need, others through disgust. 

    Clergy elsewhere have to depend on the Sunday Collections. I don’t see why the German clergy should be any different. 

    Nu-Church continues to implode. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Agree with you 100% John. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    One’s contributions should be voluntary, not forced. This tax is iniquitous. It arose in very particular German circumstances. Linking the reception of the Sacraments to its payment is a shocking move, which the Pope has personally agreed. 

    Remember that the Church in Germany makes a VERY major contribution to Rome’s coffers. This is the question at stake (along with the income of the German clergy) and I am afraid to say the Holy Father has linked himself to a truly iniquitous solution. 

  • Hermit

     A tithe is tenth part of one’s annual income contributed
    voluntarily or due as a tax, especially for the support of the clergy or
    church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-Hughes/100000562751914 Jack Hughes

    I have a question for you Irene which do you think is better at determining how much to put in the collection basket; the state or the individual? What about the priniciple of subsidary?  Should a German Catholic who, because of inflation is finding it difficult to feed his family be denied Sacramental Confession becasue he can only afford to pay 3 rather than 8 percent of his income to the Church?

    The German Bishops disgust me,  they have the audacity to deny people the Sacraments because they can’t afford the required tax, perhaps they are thinking about taking after  the apostle who was Jesus’s accountant, you know the one who sold God out for 30 pieces of silver, who complained because St Mary Magdalene annointed Jesus with precious oils.

  • John M

    ” a) people with too low income to be eligible to pay taxes won’t be paying this one either”

    Yes, even people with  “low income” (as opposed to “no income”) also pay this additional tax. It’s an automatic deduction that shows up as a line item on every payslip.

  • Teigitur

    Very well said sir!

  • John M

     Not only do they have the audacity to deny people the Sacraments because they can’t afford the required tax, they don’t even offer people another alternatives on how to contribute to the Church. (In Germany this is how we do it)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-Hughes/100000562751914 Jack Hughes

    Good point, and another mark against their excellencies

  • Paul, Bedfordshire

    Does any of this money reach the FSSP or only to the diocesan structures. At least in the UK if I choose to go to OF my contribution goes in OF collection plate ands if I go to EF my contribution goes into FSSP plate.

    Also I wonder if things like trendy catholic magazines get a cut?

    Sounds wholly iniquitous to me and quite frankly I would refuse to pay it and say I will contribute in a collection plate or nothing.

  • Paul, Bedfordshire

     Apart from anything else in this country if the diocese goes off the rails I can vote with my wallet and stop contributing to it in the collection plate, instead saving the money and putting the whole lot in the easter and christmas collection in an orthodox parish where the whole lot will go personally to the priest who then gets to choose how it is spent. In Germany you have no choice.

  • scary goat

     Thanks for the info.  That’s a bit clearer now.  Another question for those who have mentioned tithes…..is not paying your tithes an excommunicable offence?

    It’s starting to sound a bit like a case of “it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it”

    Of course the Church needs money and we should contribute.  Priests need to  live, buildings need to be maintained, heated etc, charitable works, educational programs etc. 

    The amounts mentioned are actually not excessive. The lower end of that scale is about what I would donate anyway, and I am at the lower end of the income scale. I would still rather donate it voluntarily out of love for the Church though.  It’s sort of linked to the idea that God loves us first, and we should respond by loving Him back. I sort of feel that the Church should be providing us with the Sacraments out of love and we respond by contributing something back. 

    Fairness?  Yes that is a question, because a lot of people “use” the Church when it suits them, but don’t think of contributing.  Having said that, I wouldn’t like to see my neighbour excommunicated  for not paying though.  Like the song goes: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”.

    I don’t know.  Maybe it’s a case of education would be better than force? And setting a good example would help too.  And refusing the Sacraments to those who refuse to pay? It depends on the reasons behind it to some extent and I am sure there are a lot of different reasons.

    I think this is actually not so simple as it might seem, but it does LOOK wrong. We expect the Church to take a charitable approach to saving souls, and this looks a bit too much like “Your money or your Sacraments”!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    It is specifically NOT an excommunication at all Jabba, as the German Bishops have explained. 

    It is an Interdict. 

  • Basil Loftus

    Unfortunately you have adopted the same line as that group of apostates known as wir sind kirche. Of which the English branch is Catholics for a Changing Church.

    The whole case against Church tax was raised by this group who were represented on Radio 4′s Today Program on Monday 24th Sept; there was no voice to defend the position of the Church. 

  • Parasum

    “”Pay up through a State system of taxation or you don’t get the Sacraments”. What else IS it?”

    ## That seems to be the heart of the matter. This is not defensible in the way that giving Mass stipends is. Simony is attempting to buy God’s grace – and this silliness sets up a connection between cash, and the sacraments, that makes receiving the latter dependent on payment of the former. It is therefore simony. 

    We seem to be seeing a revival of all the old evils that plagued the late Mediaeval Church. So what’s next: clerical concubinage ? The indulgence traffic ? (That did  bring in the cash, and built up a few public works in the process.)

  • Parasum

     Can I keep this ? It’s admirably clear and informative – most helpful.

    “Shortly after freeing myself from this tax, I received a letter from a
    local parish priest stating that I was no longer permitted to consider
    myself Roman Catholic.”

    ## St. Peter would have a fit. The implied theology is a dis-grace.

    “Sorry if I sound like I am ranting” – what rant ? This stuff needs to be explained  by someone well-placed to do so; and it has been. It is the fault of the German bishops if they insist on following Simon Magus rather than Simon Peter. Stuff that’s bad needs to be called bad, to stop it polluting the Church.

  • Parasum

     “And refusing the Sacraments to those who refuse to pay?”

    ## One drawback – that leaves the cash-for-sacraments connection unbroken, and therefore, simoniacal. An (Italian) lira would be too much to pay for a single drop of Baptismal water, or a single crumb of a Host. People can pay cash or receive Sacraments, but not pay the one as a condition of receiving the other.

    Men have died as martyrs rather than tolerate the evil of simony – and been canonised for it:

     http://oplater.blogspot.co.uk/2007/06/arialdus-deacon-and-martyr-1066.html

  • scary goat

     Firstly, welcome and may God bless you always.

    While I agree that it is not right for people to “use” the Church without contributing, I have to pick up on you saying others contribute “gladly and freely” and then you continued writing a very long post which came across as not very gladly or freely.  It actually sounded rather judgemental. I do understand how you feel…..converts are usually very idealistic and at first it can be difficult when you find that some elements within the Church are not as you expected.  I experienced this in a different context.  With time you come to understand that theory and practice don’t always quite tie up, and we need to remember that we are all very fallible human beings.  Try to focus less on what other people “should” do and think about what you can do.  Example is the best way to teach. If we start judging others, disappointment eats us away.  We do not always understand the circumstances of others.  It is better to give people the benefit of the doubt, even if sometimes that means you get taken advantage of. 

    Nice words…..I hope I can live up to that myself now!  :-s

  • Gvirsik

    >> Conscious dissociation from the Church by public act is a grave offence against the Church community <<Well, this may be so since the declaration the person not wanting to pay Church taxes any more has to sign is ""Ich trete aus der Katholischen Kirche  aus",  meaning "I am resigning from the Catholic Church." It would have been fairer – leaving the bishops in a much better light, and much less controversial – had the bishops asked for the replacement of this declaration by something like "I do not wish to make financial contributions to the Catholic Church this way any more".

  • scary goat

     So what’s next: clerical concubinage ?

    I think that’s already been with us for some time…….and worse.

  • SolusVistor

    >> Conscious dissociation from the Church by public act is a grave offence against the Church community <<Well this might be so, since the declaration to be signed is ""Ich trete aus der Katholischen Kirche aus."

    It would be much fairer, putting the bishops in a much better light and ceratinly less controversia had the bishop insisted to change this declaration to something like: "I do not wish to pay my contributions to Catholic Church this way any more".

  • Charles Martel

    Horrible system which can only hurt the Church. I have a revolutionary suggestion: Instead of putting people under interdict if they don’t pay Church tax, why not excommunicate all self-professed German ‘Catholics’ who deny any truths of the Faith or who condone the “unspeakable crime” of abortion or homosexual unions? Oh, wait, that would mean excommunicating Archbishop Zollitsch, who has stated that “Christ did not die for the sins of the people”, and that Christ’s crucifixion is just a psychological support for those who suffer…. Oh, and as for the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith….. No, forget it. Let’s get back to hunting out the Church tax dodgers!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PWZKI7JBARE4DDT3NQ22RWMOJE Benedict Carter

    Yep, you’re spot on Charles. The Church in Germany is in a shocking state. Austria and Switzerland too. 

  • JabbaPapa

    I disagree that it’s simony, and I just posted the relevant canons to let others make up their own minds about the legality of these sanctions against any tax evasion.

  • JabbaPapa

    OK thanks Benedict, sorry I neglected my usual practice of checking my story before posting :-(

  • JabbaPapa

    OK — thanks very much for the information, but we are still talking about people who are employed.

    I suppose this begs the question of whether any German Catholics will be able to seek a dispensation from this tax from their Bishop or Curate by virtue of poverty, then …

    I mean, will a poverty-stricken German Catholic be able to go and confess being unable to pay this tax, and have this Interdict thereby annulled ??? LOL

  • JabbaPapa

    Excellent post, many thanks !!!

  • Jbmulhall

    Our Lord paid the Temple tax.

  • LocutusOP

     If I have adopted the same line as they have then it is only because in this particular instance they are right. Mind you, I have read the statement from the German bishops and there excuse for doing this does not wash with me.

    This is an indefensible decision, and no matter how much the bishops try to portray it there is no way to sidestep the fact that people are being forced to pay for sacraments. As I wrote, it’s not even the fact that they are collecting taxes that is the worst bit.
    The worst bit, obviously, is that they cheapen the sacraments – making something instituted by God conditional on spending money. However, even if I was to accept that one should pay – and it’s hard to accept it given that sacraments have pride of place in the church – then there is still the case that I have to register (well, if I lived in Germany) in a civil registry in order to receive religious benefits – in this case sacraments from the church founded by Jesus Christ Himself.

    It doesn’t really go well with the “my kingdom is not of this world” thing…

    Now, if they really wanted to do the right thing and still maintain that there ought to be a link to the sacraments and the church tax….They would make sure that one is not permitted to pay the church tax unless and until one is in the position to receive them, then they would make sure that the church is responsible for collecting it’s own tax instead of sending the government to do it’s work….But, of course, that would involve making hard decisions – like preaching the Gospel undiluted, telling Catholics how they really ought to live, vote and work – and actually doing their work of shepherding their flock.

  • JabbaPapa

    From the article linked to in today’s must-reads :

    When someone doesn’t care about renouncing their faith, just to avoid
    paying a small 8% tax, that faith must have been very shallow to begin
    with.

    OK, now I’m sure German salaries are adjusted to compensate for this impôt, but to call 8% “small” ????

    If the goal here of some people is to transform the German Catholic Church into yet ANOTHER socialist ploutocracy, then I’d say the international German Ecclesial team needs to get a better goalkeeper.

  • Ajschaeffer01

     I thought All Catholics were under one rule of behavior and acts. This is not good news for a returning Catholic that churches in different countries can make up their own rules. Pretty soon we’ll be like all the protestant sects with a different church and set of beliefs on each corner of town.

  • fundamentalist

    If pointed out already, apologies.  The Tax is levied on your Income TAX, not Income.  Currently levied at 8% in Bavaria, and Baden-Würtemburg and generally 9% in the rest of the country.  Therefore if you are not liable to pay income tax, then no church tax.

    The civil authorities get involved when they are informed in a personal visit that you are no longer a member of the Church, which officially cancells your liability to pay church tax.

  • John

    It is a disgraceful system – tanatamount to simony.  I consider myself completely orthodox and loyal to the Church but I fear the German bishops are wrong in this case.