In Germany, Simony Says

In Germany, Simony Says

by Christopher A. Ferrara
February 9, 2017

The corrupt German hierarchy, led by the likes of Walter (“Holy Communion for public adulterers”) Kasper and Cardinal Reinhard (“Holy Communion for public adulterers”) Marx, head of the German bishops’ conference, has been acting as the Sturmabteilung for the widely hailed “Pope of the peripheries” in his own drive to open the door to… Holy Communion for public adulterers.

Last time I consulted a world map, however, Germany did not appear to be anywhere near the “peripheries” from which Francis has plucked a few figures out of obscurity in order to make them token bishops or cardinals. No, this pontificate is not guided by input from the ecclesial “peripheries” but rather from the engine of the German hierarchy, a Mercedes Benz of ecclesiastical privilege and power whose fuel is billions of Euros literally extracted from the remaining German Catholics under threat of excommunication.

I am referring to the German “church tax” collected by the German government from income tax revenues and distributed to the Catholic Church and other religious bodies according to the taxpayer’s earmark on the tax return. In Edward Pentin’s revealing interview with Father Hans Langendörfer, S.J., the General Secretary of the German Bishops’ Conference, we find the following astounding exchange:

“A problem one often hears related to the German Church is the Church tax. Some have compared it to the Islamic jizya, the annual tax put on non-Muslims, in that to be Catholic, you have to pay the tax or leave the Church and risk excommunication. They also say this tax is corrupting the German Church, also because it’s making the Church so rich it’s weakening its ability to evangelize.

“It’s one third of Catholics who pay the Church tax. The other two-thirds are not involved because they are too young, or too old, they don’t earn enough money.

“But it’s still a lot of money.

“It’s 5 billion euros every year, and we regard this, as you very well know, as a membership fee [!] which is linked in our system to tax standards and it’s mandatory.

“And you’re at risk of excommunication if you don’t pay it?

“Yes. We regard this [non payment], as it always was, as a public withdrawal of Church attendance….”

What Langendörfer describes is, quite simply, the institutionalization of the sin of simony in the Catholic Church in Germany. As the Catholic Encyclopedia explains, simony is “a deliberate intention of buying or selling for a temporal price such things as are spiritual or annexed unto spirituals. While this definition only speaks of purchase and sale, any exchange of spiritual for temporal things is simoniacal.” [internal quotation omitted]

The spiritual quo for the quid of money or other material benefit paid to an ecclesiastic is “whatever is conducive to the eternal welfare of the soul, i.e., all supernatural things: sanctifying grace, the sacraments, sacramentals, etc.” (To be distinguished, notes the Encyclopedia, is the voluntary offering of Mass stipends, which a priest may never, however, make mandatory for his offering of a Mass.)

In Germany, as Langendörfer admits, whoever does not pay the tax he characterizes as a “membership fee” — a membership fee for belonging to the Mystical Body of Christ! — is liable to excommunication, meaning that he will be “forbidden… to receive the sacraments.” (1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 1331.)

No tax payment = excommunication = no sacraments. That is simony pure and simple. And simony is a sin — a very grave sin. So much so that, as the Catholic Encyclopedia further observes: “To uproot the evil of simony so prevalent during the Middle Ages, the Church decreed the severest penalties against its perpetrators.” As of the 19th century, the ecclesiastical penalties for simony ranged from suspension of priestly faculties to — ironically enough, in this case — excommunication.

The new Code of Canon Law (can. 1381), however, provides merely that “a person who through simony celebrates or receives a sacrament, is to be punished with an interdict or suspension.” That is, there is no automatic penalty or any penalty of excommunication. But, in any case, who would impose a penalty on the German bishops? Certainly not “the Pope of the peripheries”!

Speaking of which, Langendörfer also admitted to Pentin that German Catholics in “second marriages” are now, thanks to Amoris Laetita, free to “ask themselves: ‘Should I, or should I rather not, go to Communion?’” That is, they are free to decide for themselves whether to commit sacrilege by partaking of the Blessed Sacrament while living in adultery. Gloria TV notes the bitter irony: German Catholics living in adultery are free to engage in sacrilege respecting the Blessed Sacrament, but they are not free to stop paying a simoniacal tax in exchange for the sacrament they defile. God may be mocked, but not the German bishops!

But then, where would the Church in Germany be if all the divorced and “remarried” Catholics stopped paying the tax and left the Church because they were embarrassed by being barred from Holy Communion so long as they continued to engage in relations with someone to whom they are not married? That would represent an unacceptable loss of revenue!

And so, as Rorate Caeli rightly observes, the Church of Germany is “the Church of Simony,” while the “Pope of the peripheries,” who is constantly condemning worldliness and clericalism in the abstract, is somehow deaf, dumb and blind to perhaps the worst example of worldliness and clericalism in the Catholic world today.

Someone is laughing at all of this. His name is legion.

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One comment on “In Germany, Simony Says

  1. More on the German Church of Simony

    by Christopher A. Ferrara
    February 10, 2017

    The system by which the corrupt German hierarchy, the world’s richest, feeds off the people through government coercion warrants further treatment here as an example of precisely the worldliness, clericalism and Pharisaism that Francis is constantly denouncing when it comes to orthodox Catholics, but never seems to notice where it actually exists.

    Yesterday’s column discussed the German “church tax” and how German Catholics who refuse to pay it are denied the sacraments and are thus effectively excommunicated. I noted that Father Hans Langendörfer, S.J., General Secretary of the German Bishops’ Conference, when asked by Edward Pentin “And you’re at risk of excommunication if you don’t pay it?”, answered: “Yes. We regard this [non payment], as it always was, as a public withdrawal of Church attendance….” I noted as well that Langendörfer characterized the tax as a “membership fee” — in essence a mandatory payment of money in return for sacraments and other benefits of Church membership, which is the very definition of simony.

    A bit more background is in order on how the corrupt German bishops extract nearly $6 billion a year from German Catholics under this bizarre system:

    German taxpayers who identify themselves as Catholics are subject to an annual income tax surcharge of 8 to 9 percent of their income, which is then remitted to the Catholic Church by the German government. The only way to avoid the tax is to declare to the government — not to the Church — that one no longer identifies as Catholic.

    This religious tax collection system resulted in litigation in the German court system. As The New York Times reported back in 2012, a German appellate court held that, as a matter of religious freedom, Catholics were free to avoid the tax by declaring that they had left the Church. The court further observed, however (apparently in obiter dicta), that the same religious freedom would allow a recusant Catholic to continue attending Mass and receiving the Sacraments despite his declaration to the government.

    Faced with a potentially huge loss of revenue following this decision, the German Bishops’ Conference, to quote the Times, promptly “issued a crystal clear, uncompromising edict, endorsed by the Vatican. It detailed that a member who refuses to pay taxes will no longer be allowed to receive communion or make confession, to serve as godparents or to hold any office in the church.” The rationale stated by the decree was that “Whoever declares they are leaving the church before official authorities, for whatever reason, impinges on their responsibility to safeguard the community of the church, and against their responsibility to provide financial support to allow the church to fulfill its work…”

    Before the issuance of this decree, however, German Catholics who engaged in this tax dodge were only liable to excommunication, which had to be formally declared by ecclesiastical authority, but they were otherwise not barred from the sacraments by any sentence of Church authorities. That situation was changed by the decree. As the BBC reported: “Until now, any German Catholic who stopped payment faced eventual excommunication. Although the measures laid out in the decree are similar to excommunication from the church, German observers say the word is carefully avoided in the decree.”

    While the word ‘excommunication’ was “carefully avoided,” the effect is the same as excommunication: denial of the sacraments, including even a Christian burial, if “the person who left the Church shows no sign of repentance before death.” There is also a bar to being godparents or to holding any office in the Church — in short, an excommunication in all but name. The German media call this “excommunication lite,” according to Reuters.

    Now it might be pointed out that declaring you are not a Catholic on a government form would constitute, at least objectively, the sin of apostasy­: i.e., a total renunciation of the Catholic faith, not unlike renouncing the faith under the threat of martyrdom. But what if a German Catholic doing so does not subjectively understand the consequences of his action? What if he continues to hold the faith but decides to dissemble on a tax form, perhaps because he cannot afford to pay 8 to 9 percent of his income to the Church over and above the already onerous German income tax? Is he subjectively guilty of apostasy? And what if the same Catholic leaves Germany and moves to, say, the United States? Does he then magically regain his membership in the Catholic Church or does the German tax form he filed years before still bar his admission to the sacraments in America on the grounds that he is an apostate? If not, then can he really be said to be, subjectively speaking, an apostate who must repent of his apostasy as opposed to a tax dodger guilty of lying to the German government?

    Strange questions about a bizarre situation. I have no answer to them. But the bottom line is this: the corrupt German hierarchy demands a “membership fee” in the form of coerced tax payments amounting to a substantial portion of personal income, failing which one can be denied access to the sacraments. That is simony, pure and simple. Martin Luther, who exploited the legitimate practice of indulgences to justify his revolution against the Church, would have had a field day with what the German bishops are doing today­.

    What but neo-Pharisaism is involved in the ridiculous hairsplitting by which the German bishops seize upon the declaration on a tax form effectively to cast someone out of the Church, while open heretics and public adulterers remain undisturbed in their Church membership — so long as they pay their “membership fee”! — and many of these same bishops openly promote heresy and sacrilege themselves?

    Without providing evidence for the charge, Francis once condemned the alleged practice of posting in parishes “a price list hanging there for baptism, blessings, Mass intentions” (which this writer has never seen in any parish). But what of the practice of extracting up to 9 percent of a Catholic’s income through government coercion as a “membership fee” under penalty of being denied the sacraments and even a Christian burial? From Francis, not a word of condemnation.

    But then, the German bishops who have become wealthy under this scheme are among Pope Bergoglio’s closest collaborators in the process of institutionalizing the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and “remarried” Catholics living in a state that even the Catechism of John Paul II describes as “public and permanent adultery.”

    Consider this absurd situation as but one of innumerable signs of the unparalleled ecclesial crisis foretold in the Third Secret of Fatima — including the “final battle” over “marriage and the family” of which Sister Lucia warned Cardinal Caffarra.

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