Germany: Regrouping of parishes and financial difficulties

Source: FSSPX News


The diocese of Hildersheim, in Lower Saxony, will undergo a major transformation over the next ten years. The number of its parishes will go from the current 349 to 123 in 2014. A plan to this effect was sent to the parish priests on June 23. An accompanying letter, signed by the provost of the chapter, Alfons Pohner, makes it clear that this is not a decision, but merely an administrative project. The diocesan authorities are asking heads of parishes to discuss this process of regrouping between now and Easter 2005. However, the document contains practical proposals for the merging of parishes. Mgr. Josef Homeyer thus hopes to obtain the participation of his priests in the project which he approved last December.

Furthermore, they are witnessing a sharp decline in revenue from Church taxes currently in force in Germany. The Catholic Church was actually expecting a fall in tax revenues of 5% in 2004. The current information indicates a decline of at least 8%. And the 2005 forecast announces a further drop of 10%.

The tax commission of the German Bishops Conference has announced that, according to current forecasts, the decrease in Catholic taxes is between 5.7% and 15.5% according to the diocese. North Rhine-Westphalia experienced, up to the month of May, a drop of 8.18%. The final figures for the whole country will not be available until the end of the year. The situation is still “quite chaotic”, said Elmar Niclas, head of the tax commission. According to him, this decline is mostly due to the sluggish economic situation in which the country finds itself, and to the new tax reforms. The vicars general of the dioceses anticipate yet another fall in tax revenues of 10% next year.