The mandatory tax on Catholics collected by the state and forwarded to Church authorities (minus a commission) has become a tax like any other tax, nasty things happen if you don’t pay. It’s a vestige from earlier centuries when the German state was a Christian institution and insisted on bearing the responsibility for the custodial needs of the Church. But now this concept of tithing has evolved into the antithesis of that which is taught in the Bible and is destroying the Catholic Church in Germany.
Since hundreds of thousands of German Catholics have opted out of the tax in recent years, the German Bishop’s Conference instituted a formal directive that you have to pay to play: no tax, no Sacraments. So the vast majority of Catholics remain on the rolls, even if they are non-practicing (about 90%). It’s understandable why they choose not to, opting out means acknowledging in writing with a signature that you are not a member of the Roman Catholic Church, something I would not be inclined to do. A gun is being held to your head.
The problem is that for a Christian, giving can never be associated with compulsion, it must be motivated by charity. As St. Paul states:
“If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3).
Paul never advocates the Old Testament commandment to tithe, for him, giving must come from the heart. In II Corinthians 8, St. Paul asks for financial help for the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem and would like to see the same joyful giving that was evident in the generosity in the churches of Macedonia:
“Now as you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also. I say this not by way of command, but to test the genuineness of your love by your concern for others” (vss. 7-8).
Moreover, there is no connection between wealth and spirituality.
Recall the Protestant work ethic, the notion that material wealth was God’s confirmation of the genuine nature of one’s conversion, and ultimate salvation. The German Church is very rich and funds many charitable causes, so their leaders enjoy great influence in Rome. But German bishops seem unconcerned by what simple math demonstrates: their Church is trapped in a death-spiral. Yet they seem to equate a healthy Church with a wealthy Church.
In a 2013 interview with Der Spiegel, German Dogmatist Fr. Matthias Gaudron of the Society of St. Pius X warned:
“The Church in Germany will collapse in 15 to 20 years. There will be neither priests nor faithful.”
Consider vocations to the priesthood in Germany, a good indicator of the spiritual health of a national Church. In the year of the interview, 2013, 98 men were ordained as priests; in 2014, 75; in 2015, 58. At this rate the number will be zero in less than 7 years (Link).