9 4 mins 10 yrs

For many years, I was a dutiful Catholic. The faith which I was brought up to believe in, stayed with me for many years, my kids were all baptised; the finest person I have ever had the privilege of knowing is a very elderly lady who has been in that same religious life for over seventy years, other members of my wider family are or have also been in religion. I have walked and talked with men of astounding faith, and I have also talked with equally astounding evil, without recognising that evil in at least one man, and over the years, I have come to a conclusion. I have not left my religion; because of stances taken, or of judgements made, of decisions and rulings given, I reckoned that my religion has left me.

The stance taken by the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Germany is a case in point. Not many British people either know or care that a part of the general taxation in Germany, as well as other European countries, is specifically targeted at both the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, but, according to the latest calculations, the totals amount to some 5 billion Euros (£4 billion) for the German Catholic Hierarchy, and about 4.3 billion Euros for the Protestant Churches in 2010 alone. This substantial amount of cash is, to use an accountancy phrase, what is budgeted for; and if the tax collection drops, the bishops don’t get the petrol bills paid for their BMW’s, and that can get a little bit disconcerting! As a direct result of the ‘child abuse scandals’ many Roman Catholics have just given up going to church, as they have lost faith with their Church, not with their Faith, and in Germany, one of the things which churchgoers can do to make a point is to advise their friendly tax collectors that the portion of their taxes which is earmarked for their Church is no longer to be collected from their earnings. As the ‘leaving’ numbers have rocketed towards 181,000 last year alone, you can well imagine the worry beads coming out of the closet all over the German Catholic churches, never mind the Protestant ones.

So the true Germanic mind, so well-known in certain military circles as believing in order, and also that ‘an order is an order’, reacted in the worst possible manner by declaring that people who ‘opt-out’ of the church tax system 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. Those who have refused to pay the tax are excluded from choirs, they cannot marry in a Catholic church, they cannot work in church schools, they cannot be buried in consecrated ground. This ‘Ordnung’ was backed by, who else but the Vatican!

simony,  the buying or selling of something spiritual or closely connected with the spiritual. More widely, it is any contract of this kind is forbidden by divine or ecclesiastical law.

Trust the Krauts to get it so wrong, in the pursuit of something they believe is so right!

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9 thoughts on “I’m not………..bothered!

  1. Print this out Mike and nail it to the door of All Saints in Wittenburg.

    Looks like the non dreaming Martin Luther was a pretty shrewd chap.

  2. Mike,
    I heard this on the Radio 4 news this morning. I must admit I didn’t know that. I believe that the Roman Catholic Church (hierarchically) is the last remnant of the old Roman Empire State Church. There are many good, faithful, pious and kindly Catholics in the world, but the Church structure is very wrong.

  3. Agit8ed –

    In a way, yes. The Pontifex Maximus was the chief priest in republican days. Starting with Augustus, the emperors also were the Pont. Max. That chap who we call the Pope is also the Pontifex Maximus of the Roman Church.

  4. Dogisgreat, exactly the same is true of the Protestant Evangelical church, so church-goers in Wittenberg won’t need to be reminded of their tax obligation.

    //Those who have refused to pay the tax are excluded from choirs, they cannot marry in a Catholic church, they cannot work in church schools, they cannot be buried in consecrated ground.//

    Not only them, if a parent stops paying church tax his children are also excluded from the sacraments.

    One interesting story about this brings us to the famous Reeperbahn in Hamburg. There was a time when many of the girls plying their trade there were from southern (generally Catholic) Germany or Poland etc. Now the law says that anyone baptised in the main faiths is automatically obliged to pay church tax once you start earning, unless you officially leave the church (by making a formal declaration at the tax office renouncing church membership). Der Spiegel once did a survey of the Reeperbahn ladies and found that a surprisingly high number hadn’t bothered leaving and were still paying tax on their earnings (prostitution is a legal profession in Germany) to their respective church, which of course in each case closed their holy eyes and pocketed the wages of sin. When the Catholic Bishop of Hamburg was confronted by Spiegel he made some unctuous remarks about Mary Magdalene and about it not being right to exclude even a fallen woman etc.

    Probably only his mistress believed him.

  5. = exactly the same is true of all Protestant churches.

    They pocket the cash just as easily.

    Same is, by the way, also true in Denmark and Sweden, where the Protestant church is the official state church. Not only do believers pay their church taxes, but the state pays sizeable funding to the church each year.
    I think that was revised in Denmark a year or two ago.

    Then there is that other wee country in Europe where at one time all the people – among the most impoverished in Europe at the time – had to pay church taxes to a church that was the spiritual home of only about 10 pc of the people.

  6. Lots of US churches operate a tithe as well.

    Got to keep the princes of the church in proper style.

    My own Church (Flying Sphagetti Monster -Reformed) is of course entirely free.

  7. you must be part of this world, but not of it

    Lift any rock, I am there, split any log I am there…

  8. Actually Noel,
    There is some logic to that. There are thousands of ancient churches up and down the UK.
    I have argued amongst some of my Christian friends that many should simply be pulled down and the land sold.
    A church is simply a meeting place, the people are the church.

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