Rome Newsroom, Oct 23, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising announced Friday that it received 665 million euros in income from the church tax last year, despite a record number of Catholics in the diocese formally leaving the Church.
Official figures released Oct. 23 showed that the archdiocese’s total assets were around 3.6 billion euros ($4.26 billion). That is 114 million euros more than last year, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.
In 2019, the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, in southern Germany, received a total of 887 million euros, of which 665 million euros, roughly $787.8 million dollars, came from the church tax.
If an individual is registered as a Catholic in Germany, an additional 8-9% of their income tax goes to the Church. The only way they can stop paying the tax is to make an official declaration renouncing their membership, after which they are no longer allowed to receive the sacraments or a Catholic burial.
Munich archdiocese’s church tax in 2019 brought in 20 million euros more than in 2018, when it totaled 645 million euros.
The archdiocese is led by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, coordinator of the Vatican Council for the Economy and a member of the pope’s Council of Cardinal Advisers. Marx was named Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI, who led the same archdiocese from 1977 to 1981.
Earlier this year the Munich statistics office told CNA Deutsch that 10,744 Catholics formally withdrew from the Church in Munich in 2019. Statisticians said this was the first time that annual departures had surpassed the 10,000 mark since records began.
The rise in the archdiocese’s church tax income in 2019, despite an exodus of Catholics, follows the pattern of the rest of the country.
The Church in Germany received 6.76 billion euros from the church tax in 2019, an increase of more than 100 million euros compared to 2018. The rise is believed to be due to the growth of Germany’s economy in 2019.
While the number of Catholics abandoning the faith has increased steadily since the 1960s, the Church’s income has risen. In 2019, a record number of Catholics left the Church in Germany, with 272,771 people formally leaving.
Last year the German bishops announced plans for a two-year “Synodal Way,” bringing together lay people and bishops to discuss four major topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.
They said that the process would end with a series of “binding” votes — raising concerns at the Vatican that the resolutions might challenge Church teaching and discipline.
In June 2019, Pope Francis sent a 28-page letter to German Catholics urging them to focus on evangelization in the face of a “growing erosion and deterioration of faith.”
“Every time an ecclesial community has tried to get out of its problems alone, relying solely on its own strengths, methods and intelligence, it has ended up multiplying and nurturing the evils it wanted to overcome,” he wrote.
In an address to the German bishops in 2015, he said that “one can truly speak of an erosion of the Catholic faith in Germany,” urging them to “overcome resignation which paralyzes.”