The state of affairs

German Bishops' Conference expects church tax to fall by up to ten percent because of the economic crisis. But the reserves of the Catholic Church are only slightly affected, according to Archbishop Robert Zollitsch. In a newspaper interview, he also commented on a possible visit to Germany by the pope and Angela Merkel's criticism of Benedict.

With her public criticism of Pope Benedict XVI. German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) was ill-advised after catching the eye of Archbishop Robert Zollitsch. He could understand Merkel's concern with regard to the bishop of the traditionalist Pius Brotherhood and Holocaust denier Richard Williamson, said the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference in an interview with Berlin's "Tagesspiegel" (Monday). "That she wanted to speak out about it, I understand well," Zollitsch said verbatim. But it would have been right to choose the diplomatic way. Merkel had also made demands that had already been met at the time. Zollitsch expressed hope for an early resolution of the conflict over the Pius Brotherhood. "I would like to see this happen this year," he said. To justify this, he referred to surveys in France, according to which the reputation of Benedict XVI. has decreased strongly.

No decision yet on the Pope's trip to Germany

A third trip to Germany by Pope Benedict XVI. is still in the stars. The decision has not yet been made, Zollitsch said. If the visit were to take place in 2010, it would probably be in the second half of the year, according to the Archbishop of Freiburg. He stressed that after the visit to the Cologne World Youth Day in 2005 and to his Bavarian homeland a year later, it was time for an official state visit by Benedict XVI. Zollitsch said he would be pleased if the Pope also traveled to one of the new German states as part of a visit to Berlin. Thuringia's Prime Minister Dieter Althaus (CDU) has already personally invited the head of the church twice, and Dresden is also showing great interest.

Less church tax – but secure reserves

The German Bishops' Conference expects church taxes to fall by up to ten percent due to the economic crisis. However, the reserves of the Catholic Church were only slightly affected, said Zollitsch. The incomes had already sunk because of the increasing short-time work.However, the reserves of the Catholic Church in Germany are only slightly affected by the financial crisis, the Archbishop of Freiburg explained. She had mostly invested her money conservatively. "We have never been tempted to want to make big money," Zollitsch said verbatim. In 2008, the Catholic Church in Germany recorded a record high in church tax revenues. The 27 dioceses generated a total of 5.066 billion euros, an increase of around 8.8 percent compared to the previous year. At the same time, the archbishop emphasized that the church is called upon to provide pastoral care for people who are afraid for their livelihood or who lose their jobs. In this context, Zollitsch praised the course taken by Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) during the crisis. He said it was right to respond with the stimulus package. The president of the bishops' conference also commented on the attempts to save Opel. The decisive factor is whether the company has a promising concept for the future. In addition, investors are needed first, "whether the state will then provide further guarantees is another question.".

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