|The bishops decision in Germany- no tax money, no sacraments- is another major sign of the utter dysfunction in the institutional church's understanding of the message of Jesus.|
While we Catholics here in the US have been embroiled in a religious freedom battle of dubious origins, Catholics in Germany are facing a very different religious freedom battle. The origins of this battle have a history of dubious machinations by the Vatican, machinations the Vatican is still in up to it's neck. It is now official policy in Germany that if one opts out of the Church tax, one has also opted out of their canonical baptismal rights to the sacraments. In Germany, it's no longer about baptism, but about money. The following article is from Euronews and has been edited for length.
German bishops get tough on Catholics who opt out of church tax
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor
Alarmed by a wave of dissenting Catholics quitting the
faith, the bishops issued a decree on Thursday declaring such defection
“a serious lapse” and listed a wide range of church activities from
which they must be excluded.
PARIS (Reuters)- Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops have decreed that people who opt out of a “church tax” should not be given sacraments and religious burials, getting tougher on worshippers who choose not to pay.
Germans officially registered as Catholics, Protestants or Jews pay a religious tax of 8 or 9 percent of their annual tax bill. They can avoid this by declaring to their local tax office that they are leaving their faith community.
The annual total of church leavers, usually around 120,000, rocketed to 181,193 two years ago as revelations about decades of sexual abuse of children by priests shamed the hierarchy and prompted an apology from German-born Pope Benedict.
“This decree makes clear that one cannot partly leave the Church,” a statement from the bishops conference said. “It is not possible to separate the spiritual community of the Church from the institutional Church.” (This is certainly an interesting theological point of view. It has no biblical justification.)
Church taxes brought in about 5 billion euros (4 billion pounds) for the Roman Catholic Church and 4.3 billion euros for the Protestant churches in 2010, according to official statistics. (This is roughly 6.5 billion US.)
NO RELIGIOUS BURIAL
The bishops said the consequences of leaving the church had not been clearly spelled out in the past. Some Catholics have tried to remain active in their parish or have a religious burial despite leaving the church to avoid paying the tax.
The Vatican gave its approval for the decree before it was issued, the statement said.
Catholics who leave can no longer receive sacraments, except for a special blessing before death, the decree states.
They cannot work in the church or its institutions, such as schools and hospitals, or be active in church-sponsored associations such as charity groups or choirs.
They cannot be godparents for Catholic children and must get a bishop’s permission to marry a Catholic in a church ceremony. “If the person who left the Church shows no sign of repentance before death, a religious burial can be refused,” it added.
The bishops conference said local pastors would invite all leavers to meet to discuss their reasons for quitting, explain the consequences and offer a chance to rejoin the church.
It's amazing to me how the Vatican and it's lackey national bishops seem able to punish the laity every which way, but are incapable of dealing with their own failures. I guess it's OK to squander away, literally steal, or use laity donations for political reasons by our bishops, but it's not OK for laity to say NO to such uses of their donations by not donating. One would think in a moral church that followed it's own teachings, that their might be a conscientious objector clause for laity who seriously don't want to enable the institutional church in illegal, immoral, or wasteful spending. One would be wrong to think such a thing.
I have always been able to separate the institutional church from the spiritual church. It's one way I've been able to keep my spiritual sanity. I guess I was wrong because when it comes to money and sacraments, in Germany, it takes one to get the other. I think in the old days this was called simony, but I'm sure Pope Benedict has concocted some rationalization for why this isn't so. I'm sure this rationalization will include some quote or another from some document of Vatican II. Please excuse me while I puke.
For a different, more wholesome take from the views of another German, Cardinal Gerhardt Mueller, the soon to be head of the CDF, check out this link from Iglesia Descalza. It's a translation of his acceptance speech for his honorary doctorate from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. I derived some hope from this speech about a man who will soon have a great deal of influence in the direction of the teaching aspect of the institutional church. Oh by the way, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru was just recently stripped of it's right to call itself Catholic, much less pontifical for it's having "gravely prejudiced the interests of the Church". I guess this must make Cardinal Mueller's honorary doctorate not worth the paper it's printed on.
Perhaps this Peruvian university failed to tithe---or something. Does this kind of insanity ever end?