BERLIN: An investigation by the German Handelsblatt newspaper has revealed the German Catholic Church collected a record €6 billion ($7.1 billion) last year, and that the country’s 27 dioceses are sitting on a fortune of at least €26 billion ($31.2 billion).
Although Church attendance is rapidly falling in the country 2.2 million have de-registered since 2000 the newspaper says revenues have been boosted by a “robust domestic economy.”
The report says the Church’s billions are tied up in fixed assets ($24 billion) and financial investments ($18.1 billion). The former are mostly made up of “equities or real estate, particularly in western Germany, donated by former nobility,” according to Handelsblatt.
The newspaper also says the German Church offers “a generous fund for pensions, reserved for higher-ranking ecclesiastical dignitaries, to the tune of €5 billion ($6 billion), but that number could also be higher as several of the bishoprics’ business reports didn’t provide exact information.” Much of the Church’s wealth derives from the nation’s Church tax. Every baptized German working adult (roughly one third of the country’s Catholics) has to pay a levy of 8 to 9 percent, depending on the state, an arrangement dating back to the 1919 Weimar Constitution.