The trend of leaving the church has been present in previous years not only in North Rhine and Westphalia but also in the whole of Germany and affects both major Christian churches – Catholic and Evangelical.
According to DW in the Croatian language, in 2019, more than 250,000 Christians left the Catholic or Protestant church.
In Germany, leaving the church is officially explained not to church representatives but to representatives of the competent state authority, and since both large Christian churches are public institutions, the state collects church tax for them in the amount of at least eight or even nine percent of the tax on income.
Whoever pays income tax of 10,000 euros, also pays church tax of 800 to 900 euros, if he is a member of a church, and those who earn more pay several thousand euros of church tax per year.
That tax is dropped by leaving the church, and that is especially “attractive” to many in Germany.
In other European countries, the connection of people with the church is declining – especially the Catholic, so for example Italy, a deeply Catholic country with the Vatican in the heart of the capital, does not charge any church tax, but there is a “mandate tax” that everyone pays which the taxpayer can determine to whom the money goes, whether to a church or other social service or institution.
What is especially striking is that the number of taxpayers who favor the Catholic Church is declining, and that decline was about 30 percent until recently.
Spain is also a distinctly Catholic country and does not envisage “leaving” the church.
As it is stated, neither the church nor the state offers the citizens an administrative act that regulates it in the way it is regulated in Germany, but from time to time some ask for his name to be deleted from the church records due to data protection, which could be interprets it as “exiting church membership.”
Poland is also a distinctly Catholic country – more than 90 percent of its inhabitants are Roman Catholics, and Holy Masses are usually much more attended than in many Western European countries.
Yet the church no longer has the role it played in socialist Poland, when the practice of the faith was an expression of resistance to the regime.
Given that neither Poland nor Spain has a legal act to leave the church – in early 2010 several courts dealt with this issue – and given that there is no church tax, it is difficult to express in absolute numbers the percentage of those who turn to those countries.
When it comes to perhaps the strongest stronghold of Catholicism in Europe – the Republic of Ireland, the church still has a strong position, but in the last 11 years there has been a negative trend where in six years the percentage of people professing Catholicism has decreased by 10 percent.
In Ireland, cases of sexual abuse have also distanced Catholics from their church, and many Irish people also feel the desire to formally and legally leave the Catholic Church.
However, leaving the church in Ireland – as in other countries where the state does not offer a way out – was de facto prevented by the Church itself in 2009, which then deleted all notes on the possibility of withdrawal from canon law.
However, there is one thing that theologians and canonical lawyers agree on regardless of country and denomination, and that is that baptism cannot be annulled, because from the church’s point of view, a baptized person remains a Christian forever, according to DW.
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