Germany: A tax that could weaken the Church

Vatican Insider

The Bishop of Munich, Reinhard Marx, talks about a tax paid by the faithful “Without it we would still survive, but differently”

Alessandro Alviani

The Catholic Church could survive without the revenue from the “Church tax” which is paid by faithful in Germany. In this case however, it would be forced to cut back on initiatives that benefit the community as a whole. This is according to the Bishop of Munich and Freising Reinhard Marx, who gave an interview published in the issue of the German newspaper Die Zeit which will be on sale tomorrow, 2 February. In the interview, the bishop returned once more the controversial appeal to “Entweltlichung” (detachment form the world) launched by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Germany in September 2011.

This word has given rise to contrasting interpretations: Was the Pope’s intention to encourage German bishops to renounce all earthly aspects of the Church, starting with the “Kirchensteuer” (Church tax) paid in Germany by all those who openly declare themselves to belong to a religious community recognised by the State, but is really collected by regional public tax offices? Marx says this is not the case: the Pope did not intend to say that the Church should distance itself from the world. Instead, he wanted to give impetus to the role it should play in a pluralistic society: “we want to be at the heart of the world, but not be from this world,” he explained.

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