Church and money © Harald Oppitz (KNA)
In dealing with church finances, ZdK calls for significant changes. The Assembly adopted concrete proposals for long-term funding security, greater transparency and lay participation.
For example, the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) urges an elected "Federal Church Tax Council", which should be given decision-making powers for the budget of the Association of German Dioceses (VDD) and review the use of funds.
Through the VDD’s current budget of about 120 million euros, the church with its 27 dioceses finances nationwide tasks, such as subsidies for relief agencies and pastoral care abroad, as well as for many associations and media activities. In recent years, there has been a debate at the national level about savings. ZdK President Thomas Sternberg had spoken out several times, calling for a strengthening of inter-diocesan tasks.
According to the resolution passed this Saturday in Bonn, the majority of the members of a possible "Federal Church Tax Council" should be "qualified, independent lay people legitimized by election; they could be supplemented by appointed members".
Federal budget not to be reduced further
According to the will of the ZdK, the financing of the VDD is to be tied to the church tax revenue in the future. A fixed share of three percent of church tax revenue is to flow into the VDD budget; that would currently be a good 184 million euros.
Overall, the Central Committee calls for no further reduction in the nationwide budget; all church organizations and institutions should publicly account for their finances. Also the Katholiken-Komitee receives church tax funds over the VDD. The Catholic peace movement Pax Christi had protested several times against cuts; it fears a cancellation of the previous annual subsidy of about 60.000 euros.
Record church tax revenues
For 2016, the German Bishops’ Conference had reported a record in church tax revenues – despite falling membership numbers. The Catholic Church had received 6.146 billion euros, up 0.9 percent from 2015 (6.09 billion euros). There were 23.58 million Catholics in Germany last year.
"The church’s income and assets have no end in themselves; they must serve and safeguard the church’s mission," the ZdK resolution states. The Catholic Church’s handling of income and assets must at the same time be in line with "its mission": "The integrity of church organizations and trust in the church as a whole depend not least on responsible action in financial matters that is in line with its values."