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The Roman Catholic Church in Germany is not funded by voluntary donations of church members, as it is in the United States.  Rather, the state collects a "church tax" which is then transferred over to the RCC in Germany.  The same tax is also collected from anyone who identifies themselves as Protestant or Jewish.  The only way to avoid paying the church tax is if you declare yourself "unaffiliated" to any church.

The problem for the Catholic Church in Germany is that people have been leaving in droves and "opting out" of the Church Tax.  Nearly 200,000 left in 2010 alone, depleting the church coffers.  The reasons for the defection of church members range from outrage over the cover-up of the child rape scandal, to dissatisfaction on the inferior position of women, to disappointment that Pope Benedict XVI has turned away from the promised Vatican II reforms. Still, many of these defectors feel a spiritual affinity for the church and would like to attend services on holidays, get married, or be buried in the church they grew up with.

Well, the Bishops, faced with a loss of income, have put their foot down:

The German Bishops' Conference issued a decree last week warning those who opted out of paying the country's "church tax" that they would no longer be entitled to the sacraments, to a religious burial or to play any part in parish life. The measure, which only just stops short of formal excommunication, has shaken the German Catholic church at a time when it is already facing serious challenges. The drive to designate non-paying adherents as outcasts who have committed "a grave offence against the Christian community" has been met with distaste by both liberal and conservative Catholic groups in Germany, and the issues that this case raises go right to the heart of the shifting nature of Catholic identity.

The Church tax has made the German Catholic Church fat and rich over the years.  Declared Catholics must pay 8-9% of their income tax to the church.  This amounts to about $7 billion in Germany.  No way do the Bishops want the gravy train to end.

Jesus said: And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24)
Draw your own conclusion.
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