Well, thinking of a couple of stories in the news makes me wonder if the church, various churches, is anything more than power and money. I think of the fundamentalist preachers in the states who coin a fortune by selling the idea of god to the deluded in need of comfort and now Germany's Roman Catholics are to be denied the right to Holy Communion or religious burial if they stop paying a special church tax. A German bishops' decree which has just come into force says anyone failing to pay the tax - an extra 8% of their income tax bill - will no longer be considered a Catholic. The bishops have been alarmed by the number of Catholics leaving the Church. I should think this will have more of them leaving. Catholics make up around 30% of Germany's population but the number of congregants leaving the church swelled to 181,000 in 2010, with the increase blamed on revelations of sexual abuse by German priests.
If the religious tax is not forthcoming, Catholics will no longer be allowed to receive sacraments, except before death, or work in the church and its schools or hospitals. Without a “sign of repentance before death, a religious burial can be refused,” the decree states. Opting out of the tax would also bar people from acting as godparents to Catholic children.
And while on the subject of sexual abuse the Roman Catholic Church in the Australian state of Victoria has confirmed that more than 600 children have been sexually abused by its priests since the 1930s. The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, described the figures as "horrific and shameful". Campaigners say the true number of abuse victims could be up to 10,000. Abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests has been a major issue in Australia recent years. During a visit in July 2008, Pope Benedict XVI met some of the victims and made a public apology for the abuse.