And the Difference Between This and Simony is …

The German bishops are demanding that German members of the Roman Catholic Church either pay a tax or forego the sacraments, including absolution – as explained at the linked report.  Naturally, the tax goes to the German churches.

(American) Roman Catholic, Jimmy Akin, has a variety of thoughts on the matter, but his defense to the charge of simony (which he recognizes) is awefully weak.  He states: “Telling the state that you’re not a Catholic just so you can get out of paying some taxes is just another form of denying the faith before Caesar.”

On the other hand the report itself says: “German taxpayers can opt out of paying the religious tax by formally leaving their church through a declaration on their tax forms, though it does not require a renunciation of their faith.”

But even assuming Akin is correct, surely the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize “ticking a box on a tax form” (or even swearing on a stack of Bibles) as a legitimate way of leaving membership.  Doesn’t baptism allegedly leave an indelible mark?  Aren’t people just “lapsed Catholics” if they deny Rome?  And isn’t absolution in confession the ordinary way to restore them?

If so, they ought to be able to receive absolution through confession and penance, not payment.  Whether ticking the box on the tax form is a mortal sin is a red herring. What the German bishops are doing is, in essence, putting a price on the sacraments.  It’s this kind of nonsense that led an Augustinian monk named Luther to spark a Reformation in Germany in the 1500’s.

Perhaps it will be God’s good pleasure to use this situation as a fresh spark to rekindle the Reformation in Germany.


P.S. Mr. Akin notes that the tens of thousands of people who have taken advantage of the tax form option are less than 1% of the German Roman Catholics.  He suggested that this means that the RCC is losing less than 1% of her income from the taxes.  That assumes that the people who take advantage of this are randomly selected.  One suspects that those with higher incomes are more likely to be looking for ways to reduce their taxes than those with smaller incomes.  Moreover, in a progressively taxed society like Germany, a large amount of the tax revenue comes from a relatively small amount of people.  So, the numbers may be considerably more dramatic than Mr. Akin suggests.

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