The Bishop of Eichstätt, Gregor Maria Hanke OSB, has suggested abolishing German church tax.
Hanke said the Church had a far greater need of a new spiritual departure than a church-political agenda. “We should therefore perhaps take the plunge and become a poorer Church. Genuine reform grows out of following Christ more closely, bearing more witness and possibly less institution”, he said at the New Year’s reception of the Eichstätt diocesan council on 19 January.
Currently, the German Church has multiple duties and responsibilities towards its employees and it could not suddenly back out of the present system, he said. “But doesn’t the present church tax system mean that there is a close link between mercy and money?” he challenged.
Church tax is compulsory for Catholics and some other religious communities in Germany. Catholics pay 8 per cent of their net income in church tax, which is withdrawn at source by the state and passed on to the Church. In recent years, the Church has collected more than 5.3 billion euros per annum in church tax. There are approximately 23 million Catholics in Germany.