So in Germany people are cross with the bishop of Limburg, who treated himself to a very pricey new place to live at the expense of none other than Jesus’s own Catholic church.
he €31-million bill for Franz-Tebartz Van-Elst’s residence, including €15,000 on a bath tub and €350,000 on built-in-wardrobes, has put the finances of the Catholic Church, much of which comes from taxpayers and state subsidies, into the spotlight.
Carsten Frerk, an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church in Germany, estimated its wealth at around €430 billion with about €140 billion of that in capital, the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reported.
You’re starting to talk about real money there.
The opaqueness of the church’s finances was no surprise to Frerk. “For the big churches, transparency is very damaging to their business plan. Nobody wants to donate to a rich organization,” he said.
Ah no, no they don’t!
The church’s largest public form of income is the “church tax”, a system whereby taxpayers register their membership of a church or religious group, and a percentage of their tax goes to that church.
The tax dates back to the medieval tithes, a one-tenth share of goods collected by churches in the Middle Ages.
Anti-Church campaigner Peder Iblher told The Local there was little appetite among the country’s main parties to reform or scrap the “church tax”.
“All attempts to bring into question the church tax fall on deaf ears with conservatives, but also with large parts of the SPD,” he said.
Germans may avoid the tax by registering as having “left” the church, but it costs money to do so – in strongly-catholic Bavaria, opting out will set you back €31 in fees.
That is one hell of a racket they’ve got going.