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!