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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.