Moya St. Leger
Viewpoint: The German bishops’ decree refusing sacraments to Catholics who stop paying a church membership tax has been greeted with incredulity.
The Catholic church in Germany has won its appeal against the decision of a lower court to allow a retired canon lawyer to avoid paying church tax and remain a member of the church.
In a court decision on May 3, the Higher Administrative Court, Baden Wuerttemberg, overruled an earlier decision of the Administrative Court, Freiburg, to allow the application of Professor Hartmut Zapp, to leave the church.
For background on this story, see: German court upholds church tax challenge
In Germany, the church is both a legal tax-raising statutory body as well as a community of faith. A Catholic who objects to paying church tax has to formally leave the church, and is subsequently excommunicated.
Zapp had added a rider to his application to leave the church, stating he was only leaving the statutory body not the community of faith.
This morning's court decision states it is not possible for a Catholic wishing to leave the German church to restrict the application to its legal status.
In a landmark ruling, a German court has upheld the right of Catholics in Germany to refuse to pay church tax but remain members of the Catholic church.
The judgement of the Administrative Court in Freiburg of July 15 dismissed the case brought by the Catholic church against Staufen-im-Breisgau, which, as the hometown of Hartmut Zapp, had certified his unorthodox application to leave the church.