|Okay for me....|
|...but not for thee.|
But I see that I am late to the battle, for my pal Hilary White told the whole story--or the much bigger story anyway--months ago. This is a must read for anyone interested in the Church in Germany, and all Catholics should be, for the Church in Germany is hugely, astonishingly, jaw-droppingly rich and therefore has a huge influence in the Church overall.
This does not mean, however, that Germany is a wonderful oasis of Catholicism. Ah ha ha ha! No. The churches are mostly empty. Some German Catholics pay the Church Tax--among all the other taxes levied on Germans--because they are good Catholics, I am certain, but others just so they can get hatched, matched and dispatched in a Catholic church, for if they don't pay up, they will be excommunicated. Let me repeat that. If you do not pay the Church Tax in Germany, you will be excommunicated.
So where does the money go? We are, after all, talking billions of euros a year. The money goes towards restoring and preserving the historical churches and monasteries of Germany. They are absolutely beautiful, and a very good reason for going to Germany yourself. The money also goes towards good works--charity at home and abroad. Possibly some of it went into housing little me in Tebartz van Elst's own diocese the summer I studied in Germany. When I returned for a visit, I discovered they weren't allowing women to live in the seminary anymore, but I'm sure that had nothing to do with ME.
What I am not sure at all about is how many euros go into spreading the Gospel or, if I may sound a little backward, converting souls to the One True Faith, and among those souls I am primarily thinking of ones belonging to baptised Catholics. Naturally there are seminaries and theology schools and radio stations and magazines, but somehow all of those institutions have not convinced the Catholics of Germany that they should be at Mass on Sundays. (In contrast, billions of American dollars are doing an ace job of converting Catholic Latin America to Protestantism, and thanks to petro-dollars, the Saudis have been successfully spreading Wahaabism throughout the world.)
Nor have the institutions convinced the Catholic boys of Germany to become priests. When one of my German pals was ordained, he was put in charge of--if I have this right--ten (10) parish churches.* Meanwhile his parents did not want him to become a priest and tried to discourage him. They told him quite seriously that they feared priesthood would turn him into a homosexual. These were not mad-trad parents, either, steeped in the fears and beliefs of the 1950s. They were real Sixty-Eighters. So where on EARTH did they get an idea like that?
Of all the accusations levied at Bishop Tebartz van Elst, living with his organist (as in the Church of Our Savior scandal) is not one of them. In fact, to return to Hilary's excellent article, Bishop Tebartz van Elst first attracted the ire of the German press by rebuking one of his priests for blessing a so-called "same sex union." After that, the German media began to follow him about and discovered that he was spending money like, well, a German bishop. However, you would not know that from all the headlines shrieking about "the Bishop of Bling." I don't think the poor man actually does wear bling. The money was all towards building projects, and we are talking German builders here. German builders, German wages. My German ex-boyfriend (bless him) once pantomimed crying at the thought of how much German plumbers charge.
Given the billions of euros being spent in the building projects of the German Church all the time, the ongoing crucifixion of Bishop Tebartz van Elst seems a bit bizarre. I sincerely wonder if Bishop Tebartz van Elst hasn't become a sort of decoy for the German press to shoot at while people like Cardinal Marx are given a pass to overspend with impunity because, like the German media, they are doctrinal liberals.
Oh me, oh my, the Church in Europe. I was talking to another priest-pal who says he thinks the bishops have given up on the faith of Europe. If so, this is perfectly outrageous. Billions and billions and billions of German tax money, and the bishops have given up on Europe? Maybe they should stop building for a decade and pour the money into actual worship and convincing apologetics for the authentic Roman Catholic faith, not the innovations they are trying to foist on us.
*Lest you fear that my pal might have dropped dead of exhaustion, I shall remind you that although ten parishes may comprise a large area in Germany--and necessitate a lot of driving--they do not comprise thousands of active parishioners.
Update: I am starting to think there are powerful people in the Church actively trying to destroy the faith of Catholics, or at least discourage us from coming to Mass. Hilary, reading this, will choke on her tea, and say "Starting?" However, I grew up as a child in the 1970s and 1980s, and the parish priests I knew were such good men, and the archbishops were held in such awe, that such a thing would never have occurred to me. When I began to hear, in high school, about perverted priests attacking boys and young men, I didn't think that was an attack on the faith so much as isolated individuals taking advantage of their position for sexual thrills. And then all that lavender mafia stuff--well, birds of a feather flock together. However, when I consider situations like the Church of Our Savior in New York and in Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen, England, when a pastoral approach that was clearly fruitful was abandoned and even attacked outright, I really have to wonder: are there priests and bishops who actually and actively hate us?
I mean, honestly. Our Lady of the Rosary was famous for its reverent liturgies, EF AND OF. Father Finigan gets moved, the new chap says he'll say the EF, the new chap stops saying the EF, the new chap leaves the priesthood and his pals rejoice with him on Facebook. Like, what?