|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?
I'm horrified. And I honestly didn't think anything the Church could do would still horrify me, but this does.ReplyDelete
Frankly, if I was a German, I'd be refusing to pay this tax, then publicly donating an equal amount of money to a Catholic charity which wouldn't use it to pay lawyers to fight sexual abuse cases, then sitting in my local parish church every Sunday to see if they had the balls to refuse me communion.
To be fair, I would imagine very few German parish priests would be stupid enough to do so.
The only word for this, is as you say, simony. And I am disgusted.
I know Olivia. I am utterly stunned/disgusted with this decision. Whatever happened to the idea that the Church was a hospital for sinners, and about the poor? In Germany it's now about neither. It's about money and power. The scales should be falling off the eyes of more and more Catholics who truly want a Church of Jesus.ReplyDelete
I'm not horrified, stunned or disgusted - I'm shocked.Delete
The most natural interpretation of this:
"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.
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"
- is that the bishops are, however indirectly, committing simony. The evil of this sin, which Saint Peter rebuked severely in Acts 8, is that it seeks to put a price on God's grace, which is free, gratis and for nothing to human beings. It cannot be priced. So to make reception of the sacrsaments dependent, not on baptism, but on payment of a Church tax, is to put a price on the sacraments. There is no way that this can be tolerable, let alone right. If people are to be excluded from the sacraments, $$$ & £££ can & must have no part at all in their exclusion.
From Acts 8 - http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+8%3A9-24&version=NIV The passage seems to be grimly appropriate.
Rat I'm still trying to get my head around the fact a government connected tax supercedes one's baptismal rights. To me this is a clear cut case of simony.Delete
I understand the Bishops are saying it takes a public declaration in front of some magistrate renouncing your faith to get out of this tax, and they see that as declaring yourself in apostasy. The trouble with that is there is no conscience option for people who don't want to enable bishops, and the last I checked the State and tax system was not God.
Maybe it's all a big experiment to see how far the fear of hell still plays in Germany.
I have just sent a guest post on this subject to another Christian blogger, will link it back here when it goes live. Frankly, the best thing we can do is get this as public as we can, as fast as we can, and hope there is someone left in Rome with the brains to see just what damage this is going to do to the Church.ReplyDelete
Any idea which Canon Law applies to simony? It was prohibited in Canon 717 in the 1919 version, but seems to have moved since then.
God bless you, and thank you for bring this to everyone's attention.
This may help to answer the question: http://jimmyakin.com/2005/08/simony_at_sunda.htmlDelete
There is some similarity with this business, which helps.
It does illuminate at least one thing about the institutional church that is still applicable in the US. At any point when the church has half a chance to use to coercive power of government to enforce its own rules - it will in fact do so. Yes, I understand that we have an obligation to contribute the funds needed to run the parish to the extent we are able. I really don't have trouble with this concept PROVIDED there is reasonable accountability that the fund are well and truly spent. I would even make allowances for some disagreement with how the money is spent and still consider my donations needful. Holding the sacraments unless I pay ransom? Sorry. Can't see Christ having anything to do with this.ReplyDelete
For the clerics decide for me how much of my treasure I MUST hand over with no accountability for its use? No. Just no. I don't need to make contributions to the church for them to run political campaign ads for example. I can decide for myself what political campaigns I wish to donate to and cut out the middle man.
I do truly hope that what this means is that more people will break away from the institution and find their faith community at home with a few friends, neighbors and relatives. As Christ said, where 2 or 3 are gathered in His Name, He is there. And that can be sacrament enough.
Intentional Communities are becoming a bigger trend. As long as Rome continues on it's current path, their existence will only accelerate. There just aren't enough priests, and the one's we are getting are disconnected from the people they are supposed to serve. The mentality seems to be the other way around. They laity exist to serve them and their vision of Church.Delete
Perhaps Rome should read the Gospel of Matthew more often.ReplyDelete
"And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12–17
Rome should read a lot of the Gospels. I was reading something the other day by a periti at Vatican II, one of the points he made that I hadn't really considered previously, was that in his estimation the fact the Council centered the liturgy on the Gospels, and insisted the laity understand the Gospels, was the biggest contribution of the Council. No longer was the Bible a mysterious book read only by Protestants. Catholics were expected to read it and understand it as well. They were encouraged to engage in Bible study and come to their own conclusions.Delete
He maintained this more than anything opened up the idea of free will and conscience to the laity. The more I think about this, the more I think he's right. The teaching authorities no longer own the Bible and how it's to be interpreted. That's a very good thing.
Colleen, I posted about this to the Archbishop Cranmer blog (C of E but a great blog) as a guest poster under His Grace's invitationReplyDelete
You'll find it here
I'm now getting the ad-hominem attacks there, but at least I tried (and it's getting a fairly wide audience).
A link to your blog has been placed by His Grace in the comments section so I'm afraid if a load of maniacs turn up here frothing at the mouth, it's all my fault. Sorry. :(
Yes, Terence, you hit the nail on the head. What is clearly in order is a re-evangelization of clerical structure the characters that are in place. This will not happen an this juncture and is why it is necessary for Heath Care Systems, Universities and Independent Catholic Churches to maintain and grow a structure to replace the iconoclastic deadness that is Rome. dennisReplyDelete
"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."ReplyDelete
They are Nuts!! I'm not really surprised by this, because I've seen it coming for some time now. And it has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus and everything to do with power and money, lording it over others.
With work being scarce, many people will pay the damn tax, unfortunately.
"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.""
That "must get a bishop's permission to marry a Catholic" really takes the cake.
I am sure that the "sign of repentance before death" would be to fork over some money.
I'm glad that I have come to terms with those in the institutional Church who would deny the Eucharist, deny work, deny community, deny a "christian" burial. God is much bigger and merciful than the institutional Church and all one really be concerned about is being rejected by Jesus in life and in death.
Communism....involuntary committment to community.ReplyDelete
Church...voluntary committment to community.
At least the definition used to be clear. Now that people are going to have to pay to attend church and benefit from its sacraments (same idea as indulgences...pay your way into Heaven)...church has become Communist. The implication is...if one wants to belong to the community...he/she must pay to be committed to it. Otherwise, that person is banished from its benefits involuntarily...regardless of income. In Communism, one could never leave the community voluntarily. The fear of being killed for leaving kept many in the community involuntarily. At least the church has not turned to killing its members physically, yet...just financially...so that no food is left to feed a person's self or family with...or to heat the house...or put gas in the car.
It is the same as killing, in my opinion...however, very stealthily.