Edit: Excommunicating someone for not paying the Church-tax means nothing to people who go to church for purely cultural reasons, or aren't really concerned about being married or buried with a Catholic ceremony. Apparently, you don't even really need to be Catholic to be truly honored in German-speaking parts like Vienna, you just have to be a famous Communist "artist" who ridicules the Catholic faith. For those people who are loyal Catholics, it means a lot, and they're willing to expend a lot of time and money to ensure their Catholic names, even though those in charge are working against them.
Doctor Andreas Janker is a Regensburg, Germany born Engineer. He's also, for the time being, a Catholic in good standing with some serious concerns about the way the Catholic Church in Germany does business.
We'll get back to him in a moment. You see, like the United States and the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, the German Bishops also support abortion, the use of birth control and other forms of non-transparent activities, they hope no one really will question. The Catholic Church in the United States, like the German Church, also receives substantial Government largesse in the form of Student Loans and Grants. Catholic Charities alone receives over $2.9 billion dollars a year from the Federal Government, which accounts for about 70% of its revenue.
While America's Bishops receive substantial amounts of money from the American Government just like the German Bishops do, American citizens are selectively taxed for these gracious offerings as they are in Germany. Each German Catholic , who pays income tax (i.e. of all catholics only every third catholic) has to pay about 8% of his income tax on a Church-tax, which the German Government collects on behalf of the Church and itself keeps a 3-5% fee for managing it.
Many people object to what both the Catholic Bishops in Germany and the US do with the money, and with good reason too, since they both support programs which in various ways, violate Catholic moral tenets and even honest business practices. But while a few American Catholics opt out of Catholic systems by refusing to give money to their Diocese, (Unfortunately, they have to continue paying taxes which support Catholic organizations who misbehave), they don't have to worry at this point about being excommunicated as faithful German Catholics do who try to buck the system.
There should be nothing wrong with the government supporting the Church. It's an ancient practice probably going back to the days of the Apostles. (Since the Apostles had wealthy Roman patrons and benefitted from Roman Law in various ways too.) But what happens when the individuals running the Church and the government start working against the Church's favor, and even continued existence? Should individuals be dragooned into supporting this auto-leisionistic (self-destructive) system?
People are probably familiar with the situation where the German Catholic Bishops have produced a document effectively excommunicating Catholics who opt out of the German Church-tax for any reason. They do not specify special cases, like those involving Zapp or Janker, as the famous Canonist Father Gero Weishaupt explains .
At present, this document threatens to alienate some of the only people in Germany who actually have Catholic belief and are courageous enough to want to see it lived out in its institutions. One such man, we've already talked about is Canon Lawyer Prof. Harmut Zapp, who, counter to the way it's been reported in the official German Catholic media, at KNA for example, just won his case against the German Bishops. Strangely enough, the National Catholic Reporter has accurately reported on his case, here. Zapp's Diocese, Friburg, has sued his town of Staufen-im-Breisgau and lost its case.
Basically, the Federal Administrative Court in Germany has decided that for the GERMAN state the Church as "community of believers" and the "Church as a Statutory Body" is the same thing. But it has also decided that his declaration only to leave the Statutory body of the Church is valid because it makes a declaration not invalid if somebody declares he wants to leave the statutory body. It can only be the task of the Church to decide about the consequences of doing so. So the Church who fought 5 years against this kind of declaration has now been lost and has to pay the bill, while Zapp won his revision and is now able to conduct this discussion, being at the same point he was five years ago, within the Church this time. Which is actually what he wanted a long 5 years before.
Zapp's case is also vitally important for another courageous Catholic, the aforementioned, and widely discussed, Dr. Andreas Janker. Janker, like Zapp, wants to opt out of the Church-tax system. He currently gives money to Catholic and charitable causes he trusts, so it's not about making the sacrifice. He also has no desire to leave the Catholic Church and believes in God, certainly he believes in God more than he does the German Bishops.
Not wanting to see the money he's worked so hard to earn misspent, he's decided to opt out of what he regards as a "non-transparent" system. He does not want 8% of his yearly income tax to go to unworthy causes that lack transparancy and whose incompetence he's witnessed first hand, like the Lutheran-Catholic medical insurance organization 'Ecclesia', for example . In Germany, both "churches" (the Evangelical and the Catholic Church) are owners of one of the largest insurance brokers in Europe, the 'Ecclesia GmbH', which also settles liability claim cases for non-church companies. The cases can have nothing to do at all with any, any Church affairs! And they understand the protection of the financial assets of their clients - which are big insurance companies - as Christian value! With such a business goal they operate against legitimate claimants - which Janker has personally experienced with his helpless mother, who was treated very badly in a state hospital. [Note also a kind of parallel, between this situation and the 'Weltbild' scandal, which has the German Bishops profiting directly from the sales of pornographic literature, for very large amounts of money.]
|Doctor Janker, His Wife Karin with his Mother
At present, Doctor Janker has not paid Church-tax since December 17, 2009 and is currently back in the Church after various legal paths over years up to the the highest court in the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Signatura and to Monsignor Francesco Coccopalmerio, the current President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts begging for help according Art. 158 PASTOR BONUS. As it was mentioned in the German Catholic news that his case is already at the Apostolic Signatura, then in Germany, in the city of Regensburg the entry in his baptism register was removed only to make his cause in Rome "without grounds", and to keep the ball in the German field.
Ordinarily, the situation had been settled but the General Vicar of the current Archbishop Mueller of the CDF, who was his Bishop, intervened in turn to (vindictively in our opinion) put Dr. Janker back on the Church-tax rolls at the Civil Registration Office, urging via the Bavarian State that the civil-registration office has - after nearly 2 years - to withdraw his declaration of 2009. Dr. Janker has to sue against this withdrawal of the declaration, that it will not become valid and that his old declaration will become invalid, and Janker has also argued successfully for a stay in order to await the decision of the highest court in Leipzig (Zapp´s identical case).
Consequently, the Civil Registration Office has been waiting for the related case of Harmut Zapp to be ruled upon in the Federal Administrative Court at Leipzig. Now that the Federal court case has been decided in Harmut Zapp's favor, it should have a favorable result in that now Janker's case will be treated the same way, but very probably Janker and maybe Zapp also will be very soon "excommunicated" (again) by the German Bishops, i.e. the same punishments as before but described as "this is NO excommunication, that's just how you feel!"