Skip to comments.Pay to pray: German bishops stop weddings and funerals unless religious taxes are paid
Posted on 09/28/2012 1:42:44 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
The road to heaven is paved with more than good intentions for Germany's 24m Catholics. If they don't pay their religious taxes, they will be denied sacraments, including weddings, baptisms and funerals.
A decree issued last week by the country's bishops cast a spotlight on the longstanding practice in Germany and a handful of other European countries in which governments tax registered believers and then hand over the money to the religious institutions.
In Germany, the surcharge for Catholics, Protestants and Jews is up to 9pc on their income tax bills - or about 56 (£45) a month for a single person earning a pre-tax monthly salary of about 3,500, AP reported.
For religious institutions, struggling to maintain their congregations in a secular society where the Protestant Reformation began 500 years ago, the tax revenues are vital.
The Catholic Church in Germany receives about 5bn annually from the surcharge. For Protestants, the total is just above 4bn. Donations, in turn, represent a far smaller share of the churches' income than in the US.
With rising prices and economic uncertainty, however, more and more Catholics and Protestants are opting to save their money and declare to tax authorities they are no longer church members, even if they still consider themselves believers.
"I quit the church already in 2007," Manfred Gonschor, a Munich-based IT-consultant, said. "It was when I got a bonus payment and realized that I could have paid myself a nice holiday alone on the amount of church tax that I was paying on it."
Gonschor added he was also "really fed up with the institution and its failures".
Such defections have hit the Catholic Church especially hard it has lost about 181,000 tax-paying members in 2010 and 126,000 a year later, according to official
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
There is Church tax in Germany WHATTTTTT
I don’t get it WHY
In Germany, everyone has a choice: about 9% of your tax bill is set aside either to donate to a religion or to simply go straight to the government.
If someone claims they are Catholic, but doesn't tick the box, the bishops are making a very important point: if you are going to deny that you belong to the Church at tax time, why should we believe you now that you say you are a member?
It isn't about money - since any individual's allotted contribution might be a few euros or nothing at all, depending on their taxable income.
It is about people renouncing their faith publicly, and then reclaiming it when they need something from the Church.
The Church tax was instituted in order to keep the peace in a religiously divided country.
To an American it is bizarre.
To a European it is obvious.
That is when its stops being a real church.
That's nice and dramatic, but it has the disadvantage of being untrue.
You must work for MSNBC.
I thought Martin Luther addressed this practice quite well.
Correct. He helped pioneer the takeover of private Church finances by government officials.
This line in the article is completely incorrect.
If the money is not donated it is not kept by the taxpayer.
It is kept by the government. No one is saving any money by not approving the donation.
If you opt out of church tax in Germany, you cannot do it by form.
You have to go to the parish office or to city hall to make your declaration in person.
You basically make a point of publicly declaring that you do not consider yourself to be a member and you renounce your adherence to your religion.
And that tax was likely a main culprit behind secularization as it made the churches unresponsive to the needs of the congregations.
The point of the system in the first place was to make Protestants and Catholics equally loyal to the government, since no matter the religion of the politicians in charge, no one's church would be subject to defunding.
So, yes, the net effect was to make the state the master of the Church in economic matters and therefore to encourage secularism.
If people officially announce ---for the record, to the government --- that they have left the Catholic Church, why would they be demanding Sacraments? Is the Church legally required to offer sacraments to non-Catholics now?
Very recently FReepers were supporting that priest in the Archdiocese fo Washington who refused Holy Communion to a woman who was a practicing lesbian and Buddhist. But in this case the Catholic Church is supposed to say, "That's OK, Catholic Sacraments are a public utility now"?
The complicating factor is that in the 19th century, the German state seized a lot of buildings and property from various churches, and then instituted this form of funding as a kind of reimbursement. It's not the sort of thing that's done in the USA --- for which I'm glad, because under our Constitution it would be considered "excessive entanglement" --- but it's a voluntary collection from people who voluntarily identify as Catholics. Same for Lutherans, or whatever church they want to designate.
It's certainly no question of money. It is contrary to Canon Law to charge for a Sacrament, or deny any person a Sacrament on account of money. It is a question of having made a public rejection of Catholicism.
would Martin Luther be turning over in his grave
or. with and after Luther did German’s just switch such state-church ties from the old instiutions to the new???
Sermon or no sermon, the churches get paid so why be concerned with trying to meet the needs of the people?
1. It is none of the governments business whether someone is a member of a church or not.
2. Church has no business being intertwined with Caesar.
An evil FASCIST practice of having government guarding the gate of the church and holding its treasury box.
“It is about people renouncing their faith publicly, and then reclaiming it when they need something from the Church.”
That may be, but ONLY because the Church has involved the state in collecting money for it through taxes in the first place.
If Germans had American-style separation of Church and state, what would the German churches be doing - going broke?? If so, what does that say about the true level of the “faithful” and whose fault is that?
Let the German chuches come out and oppose the special tax-donation in the first place, proposing an equal reduction in German taxes so congregants have more money in their own pockets, and maybe the Churches then won’t need support from the state. Until then I say it’s their fault for supporting a churchp-state financial relationship that shouldn’t exist in the first place.
This article totally misrepresents the facts at hand. In order to be exempt from the German Church tax one must declare they are no longer a member of a church, whether Protestant or Catholic.
Why should the Church allow people who have lied in order to avoid the tax use the services of the Church? If you claim you are not Catholic you should not expect to get married or receive other sacraments. The Church does get financial support through these taxes.
Church members whether if it is through taxes (as in Germany) or private tithing need to support their churches. Churches have expenses too.
Germany used to be a vast, decentralized network of territories, city-states, principalities, all of them more or less local and autonomous, each with its own self-governing codes and customs. Many bishoprics, abbeys and convents throughout Germany were granted temporal estates just to provide order and continuity. This in itself (lay investiture) was a major crisis in the feudal period, as popes opposed the appointment of bishops by princes.
The reform-minded popes (e.g. Gregory) tried to block emperors using the bishops this way. Then in the Reformation, abbeys, convents, and diocesan territories were largely handed over to Protestant princes. Finally in 1803 a great deal more was seized and transferred to new secular rulers.
Then in the 1870's, the Kulturkampf culminated in Bismarck tring to seize just about all things Catholic: schools, hospitals, publishing houses, the imposition of civil marriage, the jailing of priests and bishops, etc.
Bismarck finally gave way when he faced a bigger political crisis than he had bargained for. The new settlement resulted in churches (Evangelical and Catholic) giving up income (from properties) and accepting compensation, VOLUNTARY, collected from identified CHURCH MEMBERS.
But you would like to get rid of the tax. I'd agree. You also want to restore all the expropriated Church properties this was supposed to be compensation for?
Or do you think the Church should be required to bestow Sacraments on declared non-members?
Oh thanks for that 411
Yeah because as American thinking it’s seem bizarre
I forgot about Euro troubled religious past
Well, this has been an interesting lesson in Church History.
I wonder why they never mentioned this practice in Catholic School?
As old as I am, I learn something new every day.
Thanks for the background info.
This system was not the Church's idea - the system was different before the Wars of Religion.
The Church is not the villain here and the state is not the hero.
Yep, fer sure. Turned convents, priories, bishoprics over to the princes and to the princes’ favorites. Parallel in many ways to Henry’s sacking of the monasteries in England. There, as in Scandanaviaa and all of northern Europe, the Reformation was a wonderful thing for the grand project of the redistribution of wealth: the transfer of property to the State.
Thanks for eloquently educating the conclusion-jumpers on the thread. Well done.
I do not believe in compulsory “donations”
[/Times New Roman Screaming Font]
Our parochial school has a Black History Month that lasts 36 weeks. And nobody knows a damn thing about Poland or Germany or Italy or Lithuania or Vietnam or the Philippines or even the extraordinary epic of Catholic Immigrants and the history of the Catholic Church in America.
I's like we were all hatched from eggs about 1/2 hour ago.
“It was when I got a bonus payment and realized that I could have paid myself a nice holiday alone on the amount of church tax that I was paying on it.”
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Another great example of why “UNKA SUGAH” wants your employer to pay HIM your witholding and FICA taxes.
Leave it to the individual and he will realize how much he is really getting screwed.
BUT in the land of ‘the great geedunk’ ‘they’ have devised a plan to take from you and then, to many, give it back and then some......which makes a good portion of the 47% Romney was referring to.....
That will not vote for him, ‘no matter what’....
I agree. This is a huge deficit in the curriculum of the Catholic schools.
(BTW, I love your screaming font.)
IAnd the media potrays this as people being denied the Sacraments? Wha...? Why would a non-Catholic want sacraments?]
“The Church tax began life as restitution for the vast amounts of Church land, buildings and possessions stolen and destroyed by various governments over the years.”
and such “restitution” is still being paid
1. if so, it should be based on “church statistics of number of members” when the program began, or when the church proeprty was destroyed or stolen, not on todays membership, not on people checking of anything on their tax forms; and the moneys allocated should have have a sunset date when the “restitution” has been paid;
2. but instead, the churches agreed to a permanent church-state government subsidy;
but, in my saying that the churches should not have agreed to this permanent church-state financial tie, I am not looking at the state as “the hero”.
so, I am not blessing the state when I fault the churches for agreeing to the permanence of this “restitution” tax-subsidy;
I imagine the monies already allocated have served the orginal purpose, and taxes could be reduced all around by the amount equal to the churches share of the “9%”, and the churches could learn to survive on what their own members put in the till on Sunday morning, or tithe regularly to them.
the chickens always eventually come home to roost when the church gets in bed with the state
"I quit the church already in 2007," Manfred Gonschor, a Munich-based IT-consultant, said. "It was when I got a bonus payment and realized that I could have paid myself a nice holiday alone on the amount of church tax that I was paying on it."
This guy who has already received the cash says you are wrong...
It's not exactly a "permanent church-state government subsidy" when 100% of the Catholic funds come from Catholic church members. It's Catholic funds to Catholic churches. Nobody "has" to pay if they don't want to.
I still concur that the entanglement is one big historic headache. Which some --- I'm not saying you, but some ----want to "resolve" by the 100% usurpation and absorption by the State of all roles, all functions, all cultural resources, all human services, and all material support, at all times. It's what the French mean by laïcité : the separation of church and real life.
Hardly. The land stolen from the Church alone is worth well in excess of one trillion euros today. At the current rate we're centuries away from just restitution.
You DO realize that with the expropriation of Church property, the majority of the Catholic universities were closed as well as thousands of monasteries and countless Catholic religious, charitable, and cultural foundations? You do realize that the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss did to Catholics in Germany what the Revolution had done in France, what Cromwell had done in Ireland, and later, Plutarco Elías Calles in Mexico and the Communists in Poland? (To be clear, I'm not talking about massacres, I'm talking about attempted institutional annihilation.)
And accepting what is actually a meager repayment for stolen property, a repayment that comes 100% from the pockets of the Catholic citizenry themselves, you call "the church gets in bed with the state"?
It's far from the kind of prostitution implied by the "bed" metaphor. It's an accommodation which achieves only a fragment of justice -- far short of the entire liberty the Church actually needs to carry out her mission.
People are never denied sacraments on account of money. If it were so, the person who did the denying would be very seriously in the wrong, and subject to canonical penalty.
This is like that lesbian Buddhist in Washington DC demanding Holy Communion. If people identify themselves as ex-Catholics or anti-Catholics---(Link)---- they really have no business laying claim to spiritual goods they have formally and explicitly disavowed.
Read some of the other comments from myself and from wideawake, for context. Or just continue on, fact-free. And a good evening to you.
Government should not be involved at any level
The tax is voluntary in same way income tax payment in the U.S. is voluntary. One has to renounce citizenship to opt out of it.
Here is how a German Catholic bishop described it:
“WARSAW, Poland — The German bishops’ conference defended a controversial decree that said Catholics who stop paying a church membership tax cannot receive sacraments.
“There must be consequences for people who distance themselves from the church by a public act,” said Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, conference president, in defending the Sept. 20 decree.
“Clearly, someone withdrawing from the church can no longer take advantage of the system like someone who remains a member,” he said at a news conference Monday as the bishops began a four-day meeting in Fulda. “We are grateful Rome has given completely clear approval to our stance.”
(National Catholic Reporter online)
Not paying the tax is “withdrawing from the church”. Payment for services rendered.
The widow put her mite in the collection box without a Roman tax collector or threat of being denied anything. Jesus said to his disciples, “you received free give free”.
Or doesn't that apply?
“It's about people declaring themselves to be non-Catholics, then demanding, what? A sacrament they don't believe in?”
It's about people being given the choice of declaring themselves non-Catholic or paying a tax.
If you formally declare that you are not a Catholic and therefore are exempt from church tax, you should not expect that the Church you publicly renounced will recognize you as a member.
It’s the money. Pay the tax or else. That’s what the German court ruled for the fellow who wanted to remain a Catholic and not pay the tax. But no..The catch 22 is renounce your membership and be cut off from the church or pay the tax under duress.
What are the churches afraid of? That the membership won’t support them without tithes and taxes?
Evidently a fair number of Germans are deciding that the membership is not worth keeping.
But because of reliance on the uncomprehending and/or hostile secular press --- BBC and Reuters, for instance --- a whole lot of people are missing the point.
The whole debate got sparked by a lawyer trying to be removed from the tax register only but remain Catholic. The Bundesverwaltungsgericht ruled that's not possible. This is a link to that: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jSlD9TmctC-Jm-tR901L0ARw4WLw?docId=CNG.f4d4fec426309741ec996fb87c31f219.1101
So this is not something the bishops made up, it's something they are forced to do by German law.
Its not about "pay to pray." Being an American citizen and Catholic, but not paying the Kirchensteuer since I'm not a German citizen, I can still receive Communion attending a Mass in Germany, or receive any Sacrament.
People who formally renounce their membership of the Catholic Church are no longer members, and formal defection is something a person can choose --- this is not Islam!
The conditions for a formal defection are described in detail the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts and may be read on its website. Note the following paragraph:
The substance of the act of the will must be the rupture of those bonds of communion faith, sacraments, and pastoral governance that permit the Faithful to receive the life of grace within the Church. This means that the formal act of defection must have more than a juridical-administrative character (the removal of ones name from a Church membership registry maintained by the government in order to produce certain civil consequences), but be configured as a true separation from the constitutive elements of the life of the Church: it supposes, therefore, an act of apostasy, heresy or schism.
There it is, read with your own eyes: the removal of one's name from a tax register simply to avoid paying the religious tax is explicitly mentioned as not being sufficient for formal defection from the Catholic faith.
So, are the German bishops denying baptized Catholics the sacraments because they do not pay the tax? No. They can be denied he sacraments only for renouncing the faith. One must have the intention of rupturing one's communion with the Church by an act of apostasy, heresy or schism. This would have to be verified in each individual case.
In order to avoid the tax in Germany, you need to go to the church you belong to and ask to be removed from membership. You have to actually and personally renounce membership in the Catholic Church.
The Church must accept your announced withdrawal from the Sacramental life of the Church, and the German government will reward you for doing so. What could be clearer than that?
Anyone with an actual interest in this --- apart from aiding and abetting the secular medias distortions --- should google Jimmy Akin, Sentire Cum Ecclesia, Ars Vivendi, the German Bishops Conference, or the comments of Dr Edward Peters.
Then perhaps this statement from the bishop's decree is misunderstood:
“Whoever declares their withdrawal for whatever reason before the responsible civil authritoy always violates their duty to preserve a link with the church, as well as their duty to make a financial contribution so the church can fulfill its tasks.” (Catholic News Service)
What does “withdrawal for whatever reason before the responsible civil authritoy....” mean?
It means for the tax purposes filling out a form for the state.
“There it is, read with your own eyes: the removal of one’s name from a tax register simply to avoid paying the religious tax is explicitly mentioned as not being sufficient for formal defection from the Catholic faith.
Then the bishops must be in error in their statements. Or the actual practice doesn't match the above. OR the term, “formal defection” means something other than “withdrawal”
I'm bugged when people just read BBC or Reuters and never go further into the real story. It's like running with the New York Times' Paul Krugman's comments on the Tea Party.
There could be fault within any or all the parties involved in this Church Tax controversy (church or state, German or Roman) but I will not rush to judgment before I hear from somebody who actually knows.
The most reliable people aren't necesarily Catholic clergy. I look to honest, knowledgeable lay people whose jobs are not tied to some clerical bureaucracy like the USCCB
Phil Lawler and Jeff Mirus (Catholic World News), John Allen (despite his affiliation with the ugh-NCR, he's one of the best); Ed Peters on Canon Law.
this is another form of what the Roman Catholic Church was built on and most often seeks - tie-ins between the state and the church
as you so well described, it may in fact be a “debt” than can NEVER be repaid in full
which is another way of saying the “meager amounts” (9% of some individuals tax bill??) should be paid forever???
again, justifying to the Roman Catholic Church the perpetual “marriage bed” it loves to share with the state
think again just how all those properties were originally acquired over the centuries - mostly granted title by rulers (the state) in the first place
and anything the state gives it is, by it’s very nature, entitled to take back as it’s whims dictate, no?
“It’s not exactly a “permanent church-state government subsidy” when 100% of the Catholic funds come from Catholic church members. It’s Catholic funds to Catholic churches. Nobody “has” to pay if they don’t want to.”
in one way, your way, the state is only collecting “tithes” for the Church
looked at as a matter of law, it is a tax-supported subsidy, because without the state, the church would have to collect those tithes on it’s own
now it’s complainging that some people want to “go to church” but at tax-time not admit that they “go to church”
but, all churches have this issue - many go to church, but most of the tithing and contributions come from a core of those who go to church
but, true to it’s history, the Roman Catholic Church is content with a third way - get the state to collect “church taxes” for it - a practice abanonded in the U.S. in the 1800s; but a practice I would bet the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. would be the first to sign up for if it thought any U.S. Congress and the U.S. courts would support it
What I'm looking at, though, is he way it developed historically. Sometimes it was a tremendous culture-creating partnership, for instance the Carolingian endowment of monastic and cathedral schools (heck, monks could read and write: who else would staff your schools?) Sometimes --- like after the repeated 19th century attempts to annihilate Church-related institutions--- it was a forced march into the only survival accommodation offered (Kirchensteuer).
I would be happy if the Geman state got totally out of the Church's finances. I think Ratzinger foresaw this as far back as 1969.
In any event it appears the German bishops are indeed treating withdrawals to avoid the tax as though they are formal defections. They claim Vatican support.
“The most reliable people aren't necesarily Catholic clergy. I look to honest, knowledgeable lay people whose jobs are not tied to some clerical bureaucracy like the USCCB”
But those honest, knowledgeable lay people don't make the rules.
It will be interesting to see how the civil law works out since it will affect all formally recognized groups.
It will indeed be 'interesting' to see how it works out. As in the Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.