At CNA we see a connection.
Could it be that the Germans are leading in the charge in watering down the Church’s discipline and teaching about reception of Communion, because of big losses in revenue through the Church Tax, Die Kirchensteuer?
As church-goers wane, Germany’s controversial tax prompts unease
Rome, Italy, Feb 12, 2015 / 04:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- While church attendees dwindle in Germany, questions have arisen once again over the controversial state-imposed church tax – and whether it’s time for the country’s bishops to address concerns around it.
“We are in a time when more and more people realize that the financial apparatus Church works well, that the facade is optimal but what is behind it? Where is the zealous true faith?” asked Martin Lohmann, Catholic publicist, author and spokesperson of the advocacy group Christian Action in Germany.
“While we have a decreasing of Church membership,” he told CNA on Feb. 9, “on the other side we have a raising of Church tax.”
When Germans register as Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish on their tax forms, the government automatically collects an income tax from them which amounts to 8 or 9 percent of their total income tax, or 3-4 percent of their salary.
The “church tax” is given to the religious communities, rather than those communities collecting a tithe. The Church uses its funds to help run its parishes, schools, hospitals, and welfare projects.
“But when we pose the question today in 2015, then we have to ask ourselves if the tax is still just and fair: is it just, since only Church members pay the tax? The question is pressing,” Lohmann said.
Many Germans have de-registered in recent years, so as to avoid paying the additional tax. The number of persons declaring their departure from the Church has been substantial – in 2010, the figure was more than 180,000.
The number of de-registrations has been heightened this year, as the church tax is now being withheld from capital gains, as well as from salary.
Many of those who have de-registered from the Church on the German government’s forms continue to practice the faith, and have de-registered to avoid the tax altogether, or to support the Church with private tithes.
In response, the German bishops – who each earn an average salary of 7,000 Euro per month (some up to 14,000 Euro along with free housing and cars, according to Lohmann)[About $8K-$14K] – issued a decree in September 2012 calling such departure “a serious lapse” and listing a number of ways they are barred from participating in the life of the Church. [Does that sound like Francis’ “mercy”?]
The decree specified that those who do not pay the church tax cannot receive the sacraments of Confession, Communion, Confirmation, or Anointing of the Sick, except when in danger of death; cannot hold ecclesial office or perform functions within the Church; cannot be a godparent or sponsor; cannot be a member of diocesan or parish councils; and cannot be members of public associations of the Church.
If those who de-registered show no sign of repentance before their death, they can even be refused a religious burial.
And while these penalties have been described as “de facto excommunication,” the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, wrote in a March 13, 2006 document that opting out of taxes in a civil situation was not the same as renouncing the faith, and thus excommunication did not apply to such persons.
“I know enough people who cannot understand how a distancing oneself from the tax is necessarily connected with an exclusion from salvation,” Lohmann said.
What’s more, he said, “only 10 percent of the Catholics and even less Protestants go to Church on Sunday. In the view of the administration they are all considered ‘good faithful’ nevertheless, since they pay diligently.”
You MUST read the rest there.