The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has decided that those who refuse to pay their “church tax” should not be given sacraments or religious burials. Apparently, the bishops, alarmed by worshipers who are refusing to pay their “religious tax”, have declared that such actions are “a serious lapse” and have listed a wide range of activities that they are to be excluded from.
In Germany, anyone who si officially registered as Catholic, Protestant or Jewish must pay a religious tax of between eight and nine percent annually. If they declare that they are leaving their faith community, they are exempt from this tax.
Germans have been leaving the Catholic Church in greater numbers since the revelation that the Church had covered up decades of child sexual abuse conducted by priests. The number of people leaving the Church two years ago rose to 181,193. That is up by about 60,000 over previous years.
Reuters reported that the bishops stated “This decree makes clear that one cannot partly leave the Church. It is not possible to separate the spiritual community of the Church from the institutional Church.” The tax brings in about five billion euros or about six and a half billion dollars to the Roman Catholic Church.
Some Catholics have left the church officially but remained active in the parish or been given a Catholic burial. The Vatican approved the decree which states that those who leave the church officially in Germany can only receive last rites, but they cannot receive any other sacraments. They cannot work in a church or any affiliated Catholic institution, and cannot be active in church-sponsored events or groups such as charities or choirs. They cannot be godparents for Catholic children and must obtain special permission to get married in the Church. The decree also states that “If the person who left the Church shows no sign of repentance before death, a religious burial can be refused.”
Germany’s Protestant churches have also seen an exodus of members.