I was talking to an Austrian friend today who is a lapsed Catholic. When I asked why he left the Church, he told me a story that went like this:
A few years ago, he got a letter in the mail saying he needed to pay 300 Euros to the Church because he was Catholic. His other options were to go to jail or, as he said, “stop being Catholic”. This sounded to me like simony, so I went onto Wikipedia and found out that, indeed, Austria has a “church tax” where the church imposes a 1.1% tax on all Austrian Catholics.
How is this justified? Of course it’s a precept of the Church to support her according to your ability, but to have this backed up by force of law sounds excessive. Like I said above, it sounds like you’re paying a “membership fee” for the Church.
Secondly, this seems to operate on the premise that it’s possible to “stop being Catholic”. This is deeply contrary to our faith. Once baptized, of course, you can never be non-Catholic again, and it seems unfair that the Church would demand money from a person who did not practice their faith, despite having been baptized as an infant.
Can someone explain this to me? It seems like a deeply Un-Catholic practice to me.