Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Germany: Does “church tax” drive concern over the remarried and gays?

Cologne Cathedral: landmark Gothic cathedral along the Rhine is listed as
being worth only 27 euros - one euro for each of the 26 land parcels beneath it
and one euro for the priceless building.
Due to “church tax” Germany is the cash cow of the Vatican and to encourage this special rules seem to apply. A quarter of new German marriages are remarriages. Neither these couples nor gays are shut out from sacraments and thus discouraged from paying their church membership fees. And soon they may not even be fired from Church employment.

Vatican doctrine is quite clear about forbidding remarried to take Communion. Otherwise, said  Pope John Paul II, "the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage." Church control over marriage requires that it sticks.

However, the German church poses a special challenge to this doctrine. It has been called "the cash cow of the Vatican". It pays for every priest not only in Peru but also in Brazil, the most populous Catholic country in the world. This is due to the steep German church tax which, at 8-9 % of taxable income, is 3-4 % of their salary. In 2013 this tax brought the Vatican 5.4 billion euros. The next year another wave of church-leaving occurred when the church tax began being withheld from capital gains, as well as from salary.

In 2012 the German church got a Vatican change to its membership rules, which mean that you must pay church tax in order to receive many of the sacraments. These include Confession, Communion, Conformation and Last Rites, except in danger of death. In addition, there can be no church wedding without special permission. And unless the person who has left the Church has shown repentance before death, a Church burial can be denied.

The sale of sacraments is officially considered by the Church to be the sin of simony, but this has not stopped it. In fact, as soon as it was brought in, this "pay to pray" regulation was obediently enforced by a German court.  (more...)

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