Benedict XVI questions German ‘church tax’
October 11, 2016
Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI questions the reliance of the German Catholic hierarchy on the “church tax” in the new book-length interview published in Italy, the daily L’Espresso notes.
The German Church has enormous financial resources, in spite of declining Mass attendance, because the government collects a “church tax” from all citizens who register as Catholics. To avoid that extra tax, many Germans have removed their registration as Catholics; in response, German bishops have said that Catholics who are not registered will not have access to the sacraments.
The retired Pontiff reflected on this unusual arrangement in his interview the Peter Seewald:
In effect I have serious doubts about the correctness of the system as it is. I do not mean that there should not be an ecclesiastical tax, but the automatic excommunication of those who do not pay it, in my view, is not sustainable... In Germany we have a Catholicism that is structured and well-paid, in which Catholics are often employees of the Church and have a union mentality in regard to it.... I believe that this represents the great danger of the Church in Germany: there are so many collaborators under contract that the institution is turning into a worldly bureaucracy.