From our Berlin correspondent.
There is an atmosphere of near panic here after the Bundestag voted to end the historic Church Tax or kirchensteuer (worth 5.5 billion euros last year to the Catholic Church). Several bishops (current salaries c. 12,000 euros pcm) have already petitioned Rome for laicization, to take up more remunerative posts as Human Resources Co-ordinators or in Public Relations. Said one bishop: ‘It will soon be like the third world here, or worse still, like the Church of England.’
There is a widespread belief in Germany, based on recent statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury, that Anglican bishops (like the rest of the citizens of the United Kingdom) are condemned to inadequate social housing and a reliance on food banks.
At least two of the more flamboyant German bishops (known as ‘Bishops of Bling’) have defenestrated themselves from the upper floors of their baroque mansions in the traditional manner.
There is also movement among tenured academics in the Universities, who are said to be seeking appointments in conservative rural parishes. Said one professor: ‘There is no future for liberal theology in Germany now that ordinary Mass-going Catholics will have to pay for it.’
Speaking from Rome, Vatican spokesman Fr Lombardi said that there was no crisis.