German Catholics must pay tax, bishops say

Sept. 24, 2012 at 2:15 PM

LEIPZIG, Germany, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Germany's Roman Catholics will be denied benefits of the church if they refuse to pay a special church tax, a bishops' decree states.

The decree comes into force as the case of a professor of church law, Hartmut Zapp, who in 2007 announced he would refrain from paying the tax but wished to remain within the church, will reach the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, the BBC reported Monday.

All German citizens registered as Catholics, Protestants and Jews pay an additional 8 to 9 percent in income tax, which is then directed to the specified faith, a levy introduced in the 19th century in compensation for the nationalization of religious property. Germany has about 30 million Catholics, 30 percent of its population, and the tax comes to about 5 billion euros ($3.85 billion).

The German Catholic clergy is alarmed by the decline in its congregations, blamed largely on discovery of sexual abuse by its priests, and the decree states any Catholic who forgoes the tax will be denied Holy Communion, religious burial and other sacraments, although it stops short of excommunication, the BBC said.

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
Kurds plan to carve state out of Iraq after fighting stops, leaders say
Kentucky clerk sued for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses
Van hauling fireworks catches fire on I-15 near California-Nevada border
Sean 'Diddy' Combs avoids felony rap for attacking UCLA coach
Police arrest N.C. soldier with assault rifle headed to mall photo shoot