Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Pope Benedict's suggestion that the German church levy should end was making a lot of German clergy upset. If the government listened to him the church would lose $6.3 billion a year and be forced to change radically. There is an update to the story. The German bishops have decided those who don't pay the tax can't receive the sacraments. That is using their power to preserve the status quo in an area that the pope has suggested radical change might be needed. Bishops need to be very careful about using the power to refuse sacraments. Taking this position only after the church levy is challenged and only after the pope's comments seems quite strange. It is a fight they will likely lose. A secular state such as Germany is not going to keep handing the Catholic Church billions every year. Rather than preparing for the change they take this stand that ties money and spiritual goods together quite directly. Seems like they could dust off some of Tetzel's old slogans, "No sooner do the coins clink in the money chest ..." Maybe that is not fair but there is a huge danger this could be misunderstood.