The German bishops have told German Catholics that if they don’t give the church money they don’t get the sacraments.
Last month, German bishops warned that if members of the Catholic Church don’t pay the country’s church tax, they’ll be denied the sacraments — including baptisms, weddings and funerals.
In increasingly secular Europe, Germany is one of the few countries where the state collects a special levy from tax-registered believers and hands it over to three organized faiths.
Registered Catholics, Protestants and Jews pay a surcharge of up to 9 percent on their income. The Catholic Church alone received some $6.5 billion in 2011.
$6.5 billion! That’s not a bad chunk of change, especially for putting on fancy dress to pretend there’s a magic sky dude who will make everything come out right. How nice of the state to do the church’s collecting for it.
In issuing the stringent new decree, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the president of the German bishops’ conference, said that not paying taxes for the church is a grave offense, and that sacraments will be banned for those who distance themselves from the church.
“In Germany, the church is a community of faith which coexists alongside the legal system,” Zollitsch said. “The two cannot be separated.”
And if you try, no sacraments for you! Don’t like it, take it up with god.
The bishops issued their decree as church defections are growing. In 2010, when the clerical sex abuse scandal exploded in Germany, nearly 200,000 Catholics left the church. In a normal year, it’s 100,000.
Church statistics show that only 13 percent of Germany’s Catholics attend Mass weekly. And, Weisner says, the majority of those who are observant criticize the church leadership.
So the German bishops have come up with the perfect way to fix that! Threaten and bully!
What could possibly go wrong?