Edit: the Kirchensteuer (Church-tax) issue has been a contentious one in German speaking areas as the Old Liberal Church structure uses it to promote its less-than-Catholic policies. At this point, the German Bishops are willing to use their flagging spiritual authority to keep the money and their power. Rome appears to have acquiesced in the worst possible way. This is a disaster. Here's the article we've hurriedly translated from the German District of the SSPX's website:
Bonn (pius.info) During his Germany Visit in 2011 Pope Benedict called people to attention making an appeal in his so-called Freiburg speech to "worldliness" in the Church. True openness to the world is only made possible by a corresponding release and emancipation from structural coercion.
At the same time, Church-steuer (tax) became a topic of discussion in the media.
Today (20 Sept) the German Bishops' Conference has published in a press release, which actually goes against the desire of the Pope, to refuse all Sacraments, to those who are indeed Catholic --- but do not want to pay Kirchensteuer (Church tax).
Already on the 13th of March 2006 the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts had pointed out the glaring conflict in Germany.
It was then that Rome recalled that leaving the State designation can not be automatically compared to defection from the Catholic Church.
As "withdrawal from State" is handled as a separation from the Church, in so far as in the Bundesrepublik of Germany it is a Body of Public Law and whose members are bound to pay taxes by the state.
A separation from this Body is, as Rome presently has described it, is not bound by the punishment of excommunication. Therefore a baptized Catholic, who is effectively wishes to separate from the Church as a visible institution, to his current local Bishop or at least to his pastor, that he completely or partially rejects the Faith of the Church or does not want to place himself under the hierarchical order of the Church.
That means therefore, that also in Germany the membership in the Church is not identical with membership in the state regulated Body of Public Law. (In the description of the written Papal Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts of the 13th of March 2006; is based on a document to the Society in the Newsletter of March 2012 recommendations to the faithful, who have left the State Body and to announce to the Parish office affiliation.)
Exactly the opposite was announced in the Decree of the German Bishops' Conference on the 20th of September. Though one does not incur automatic excommunication any longer, it probably constitutes a "compromise" with the Roman position, but the leaving the Church in the form of its government situation has the same legal consequences as excommunication. These legal consequences are mentioned decree of the German Bishops' Conference in Point II 1. described:
"The person who has left the Church
- may not receive the Sacraments of Penance, Eucharist, Confirmation and
Last Rites -- except for the danger of death
- can not be vested in any ecclesiastical offices and may not participate in functions in
- can not be a Godfather or a sponsor for Confirmation,
- can not be a member in either parish or Diocesan Councils.
- loses the active and passive right of voting in the Church.
-can not be a member in public Church societies."
In clear English: whoever doesn't pay, doesn't get the Sacraments.
Everyone who leaves the official state body, should receive a document (zum Pastoralen Schreiben der DBK).
That this is effectively the same thing as an excommunication, is shown especially in a further clarification of the decree, which touches on the Church burial of a "person who has left the Church".
This can not only be refused if the person "has shown before her death any sign of remorse." It raises the question of what the sign of repentance of the person is? Has she paid no church tax?
Rome has approved the decree, so this compromise has solely avoided the concept of "excommunication."
This is represents a complete abandonment of the position of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts of 2006 rand represents no detachment from worldly constraints and clearer witness to the faith, but has announced the massive incorporation into the state system.
Which position of the Gospel are the German bishops pointing to now? Is it Mt 10:8 "Freely you have received, freely give"? Or one could one also but equally recall Matthew 6:24: "You can not serve God and Mammon"?
One must find one in any case: In the case of counseling pregnant women, Pope John Paul II demonstrated more backbone, determination and authority to the German bishops, than the present German Pope Benedict XVI. in the matter of church tax.
"Am Gelde hängt,
zum Gelde drängt
doch alles." (Faust)
Link to German District Site....