Religious taxes are paid as a percentage of income to support churches and synagogues, and the tight European economy has prompted an increasing number of Germans to drop out of their churches to avoid the levy, Britain's The Daily Telegraph said.
That hasn't sat well with the bishops, who said in an official decree this week that not paying the taxes was "a serious mistake."
The decree will be followed up by a form letter that will be sent to unofficially lapsed Catholics reminding them they have to be all in if they want to take advantage of the church's sacraments.
"This decree makes clear that one cannot partly leave the Church," the bishops said in a statement. "It is not possible to separate the spiritual community of the Church from the institutional Church."
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