Ecclesiastical Activism and Biblical Injunctions

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference

Published in Cicero Magazine
11th October, 2018
Kardinal Marx : Der Schein-Altruist
Translation by TheEuropeans

The Bavarian Church stands accused of interfering with European policy on people smuggling.

Cardinal Marx : The Sham Altruist

Cardinal Reinhard Marx transfers €50,000 to the sea-rescue mission Lifeline — exclusively from diocesan funds. Legally, that might be in order. But in doing so, the cardinal overstretches his remit in an un-Christian way.

Theologically, the matter is fairly clear: the Archbishop of Freising, a Cardinal in the Munich diocese, and Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Reinhard Marx, is a hypocrite. What does the Evangelist, Matthew, have to say in the New Testament? “Beware of putting your righteousness on show before men; otherwise you cannot expect to be rewarded by your Heavenly Father. Therefore, when you give alms, do not shout it from the rooftops, as the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets do, in order to earn praise from the people.” Marx puts his charitable deeds, as he sees them, in the shop window. Now he donates €50,000 to the Dresden NGO, “Mission Lifeline”, which has dedicated itself to rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

Cheering from the Archdiocese 

As a result, great joy reigned amongst the leadership of the Archdiocese; from whose official Twitter account a total of seven tweets aimed at the jubilant dissemination of the Good News, were deleted between the 8th and 10th October: beginning with the “thank you” from the German Lifeline captain, Claus-Peter Reisch, to the Munich-Freising Archdiocese’s “very generous support for his next mission”.

With this, began the still unanswered questions, the still unresolved problems. This enormous sum of money flowing into the account of a controversial German organization that hogs the limelight with its aggressive self-promotion and brassy moral tremolo, an organization moreover that is totally cavalier about the consequential costs of its rescue operations for the receiving countries — this money does not come from the personal fortune of the bishop, who is handsomely remunerated  by the Free State of Bavaria to the tune of around €13,000 euros per month (Salary Bracket B10).

Responding to the duty of “pastoral service”? 

The priest was “very generous” with other people’s money, the money of the faithful. Was he justified in doing this? Do committed Christians and conventional catholics donate their money so that a cardinal’s ego can be plumped up, and a left-wing political agenda publicly fulfilled, with one and the same check?

The ecclesiastical law of the established German church provides for the discretionary allocation of its funds. The Archdiocese reports thus: “The Archbishopric’s budgetary funds are available to the Archbishop of Munich and Freising for application to social and charitable works within the framework of the global church. The goal is to render assistance by applying these funds quickly, and without bureaucratic impediment. The €50,000 in question come from this budget item”.

The balance sheet of the Munich-Freising diocese, which grew last year with a surplus of €115M to a total of €3.368Bn, would be a credit to the DAX-Index. Church tax revenues increased by 8.5% to €590M. The budget of the “Archbishop’s Chair” alone, which provides the “means for fulfilling the tasks associated with the Archbishop’s pastoral work”, amounted to around €54M. As used to be said: Life’s good under the bishop’s crozier. Today you might say: With church tax receipts, it’s a good place to be boss.

“Donation” as an expression of Marx’s false altruism

What can one say about the transfer of assets from an ecclesiastical budget item to a private German association, which moreover faces the allegation of aiding and abetting illegal human trafficking? Is it, as described in several news reports, including in Catholic journals, a “donation” by the Archbishop? A public corporation such as the Archdiocese cannot make donations, and neither can a State.

Not one cent that the Cardinal may have earned privately, for example through book sales, can benefit Lifeline. These are exclusively budgetary funds, funds belonging to the Diocese, whose financial well-being relies on the loyally contributed taxes of the faithful. The very term ‘donation’ insinuates the sort of sham altruism to which Marx applied the money.

An example of ecclesiastical compassion?

That is why Bild-Zeitung correctly represents the intention behind the financial transaction, when, in the spirit of its guest contributor it writes: “Marx donated €50,000”. No he did not. In his Bild article, Marx claims to have led by example with his trumpeted act of Christian mercy. “Our mission as Christians is [to show] mercy”. The social ethicist [in him] errs inasmuch as Christian mercy is a voluntary act of the individual, and an attribute of God. Those who use other people’s money, without permission and in a very controversial cause, act entirely on their own authority.

Not in the legal sense, but morally and theologically, church resources were misappropriated in the transfer of money from the Archbishopric to Lifeline. A priest seeking applause overreaches his ecclesiastical authority. Anyone who in future does not want to become the patron of a new ‘Marxism’ through his contributions to church taxes, will have no other choice but to practise his catholicism outside the Church.