Archbishop Robert Zollitsch

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch

October 8, 2012

The German bishops’ conference defended a controversial decree that said Catholics who stop paying a Church membership tax cannot receive sacraments.

“There must be consequences for people who distance themselves from the Church by a public act,” said Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, conference president, in defending the Sept. 20 decree.

“Clearly, someone withdrawing from the Church can no longer take advantage of the system like someone who remains a member,” he said Sept. 24.

The archbishop said each departure was “painful for the Church.”

The Catholic Church is committed to seeking out every lost person,” said Zollitsch.

“At issue, however, is the credibility of the Church’s sacramental nature.

One cannot be half a member or only partly a member,” he said.