From a GERMAN reader…
Currently, I am required to pay my income tax in Germany, which also includes the “Church Tax” as I have declared that I am a Roman Catholic.
It appears one cannot just opt-out of this tax, as far as I can tell, one needs to declare not longer being Roman Catholic (and the German bishops threaten with Excommunication).
However, seeing what is going on in Germany, I’ve reached a point where I cannot, in good conscience, fund those activities anymore.
Aside the fact that we’d rather spend the money for something useful, e.g. funding another seminarian at the FSSP seminary, this touches on actively funding activities that are, IMO, openly anti-Catholic and I fear that I am engaging in a sinful activities by continuing to pay the tax.
Do you have any advise for me on what to do?
Since this is a little apart from my wheelhouse, I asked a trusted German priest, a friend of many years and absolutely solid.
GUEST PRIEST RESPONSE:
The system is broken. I understand your correspondent’s doubts and frustration.
It is interesting how in Germany even the language used by the church often has to do with membership rather than faith in God. The contribution based system leaves deep traces in how the local church thinks and acts.
At the same time, the individual Catholic is not “guilty” of supporting bad and questionable things by paying the tax, as all my relatives do.
In reality, most of the Church activities funded by the tax are not evil.
Ultimately, donors can never avoid totally that their money will be used unwisely, or even sinfully. Such scruples are unreasonable, IMHO: that responsibility lies with someone else.
The fact is that in the US the faithful have other means of influencing how the Church spends its money. In Germany this is much more complicated. Practically, the faithful have less immediate influence.
The fact is that, even today, opting out (Kirchenaustritt) is not generally seen as an acceptable option by the faithful or by the clergy in Germany.
I do not see how the act as such can be considered an act of schism, apostasy such as to incur excommunication. As I read the bishops, the act, because it is public and official, is currently rather something like manifest grave sin. Therefore, can. 915 is to be applied.
What your questioner could do now is make his difficulties known to his own pastor, and to the competent bishop. Let them know that this constitutes a huge problem for him, and that he is unsure how he can resolve it under the present conditions.
Get on their nerves: ¡Hagan lío!