Just one of the “Fascist concordats” is still substantially in place. Italy has got rid of the Mussolini concordat, Spain has replaced the Franco concordat, Austria has eroded through amendments the Dollfuss concordat and Portugal has scrapped the concordat made with Salazar. Only Germany still retains its Vatican concordat with Hitler.
The German postwar constitution was carefully designed by the Allies to decentralise the country and hence it handed over many formerly federal powers to the individual states. Thus the federal government has lost the constitutional power to revise the concordat. Instead, it is left up to the states to renegotiate directly with the Vatican in areas like education which under their control. This allows the Vatican to push for the maximal concessions obtainable in each region of the country. The Vatican now has a web of more than 50 concordats throughout Germany concerning individual states and even individual institutions. These are further cemented by numerous statutes, regulations, ordinances and other agreements.
Weimar Constitution let German churches become states within the state
However, the enormous power of both Catholic and Protestant churches in Germany today is not due solely to the concordats or church-state agreements. The privileges that these pacts give to the churches are amplified by another fateful German innovation. It was the 1919 Constitution of the democratic Weimar Republic which gave the churches wide latitude in substituting their own regulations for the law of the land.
These articles were incorporated into the present German constitution, including Article 140 (which in the Appendix takes over Article 137 § 5 of the Weimar Constitution) confirming the status of the Catholic and Lutheran Churches as corporations under public law. At the same time Article 19 § 5 extends to these artificial persons, the rights of real ones, thus setting the stage for a conflict between individual and group rights. On the second page of the menu below several articles show how this church autonomy lets faith-based social services remove millions of Germans from the protection of many civil laws.
Loss of church tax drives concern over divorced and gays
The German church has been called "the cash cow of the Vatican". It pays for every priest not only in Peru but also in Brazil, the most populous Catholic country in the world. This is due to the steep German church tax which, at 8-9 % of taxable income, is almost as high as the Mediaeval tithe of 10%. In 2013 this tax brought the Vatican 5.3 billion euros, and it's expected to be still higher in 2014. (Tablet, 2014-10-11)
This is the price for receiving Catholic sacraments. The German church even got a timely Vatican change to its membership rules, which mean that you must pay church tax in order to receive many of the sacraments. In 2012 this "pay to pray" regulation was then obediently enforced by the German court.
However, for those who are willing to pay church tax and who are merely living in what the Church considers an adulterous relationships, the rules are quite different. A quarter of new marriages in Germany are now remarriages, with these "adulterers" officially ineligible to take sacraments. These people have no reason to pay church tax to the church that shuts them out. So the German Catholic bishops broke with Vatican doctrine, and allowed the remarried to receive sacraments in order to keep them. After all, 70% of the income of the German Church depends on these taxes. This position was defended by Cardinal Walter Kasper in a frank interview which was quickly taken down, but is reposted here.
The Church also loses income from gays and from their extended families who resent their exclusion. One gay couple was told that to be allowed to take the sacraments, they must divorce and sign a statement that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. A bishop admitted that “We have lost whole families over this.”
For the sake of maintaining power over marriage, however, in 2013 the Vatican said it was chastising the German bishops -- but for the sake of the income did nothing more. In 2014 Cardinal Mueller, the doctrinal watchdog, issued "another strong statement", but no one got excommunicated, as can happen when clerics violate Church doctrine. Meanwhile, the Pope Emeritus, (who claimed he was going to be "hidden to the world"), came down on the side of orthodoxy by editing out his earlier support for the possibility of communion for the remarried.
In addition to the concordat at the federal level, made with the Nazi regime, every German state has some kind of agreement with the Catholic Church, either with the Vatican or with local bishops. There are over 50 German concordats currently in force. This list of 18 concordats with state governments (Länder) is linked to the texts in German..
In this excerpt Prof. Francis Messner looks at Germany, where relations between church and state are regulated by treaties. This means international “concordats” for the Catholic Church, and national “accords” for the other religious groups. In the last hundred years there have been three waves of these.
Under the Bavarian concordat the bishop can veto all professors of Catholic theology (Art. 5 on the Catholic University) and 21 professors of philosophy, pedagogy, sociology and politics (Art. 3 on concordat chairs). These chairs are 85-90% funded by the state, yet non-Catholics need not apply, nor even a top Catholic scholar who criticised Pope Benedict.
Two websites in German contain detailed information collected by secularists about state subsidies for religious bodies http://www.staatsleistungen.de/ and religious discrimination in the workplace http://www.gerdia.de/ Two further articles in German are of note: summary of a 2012 study commissioned by the church-critical IBKA on religious discrimination in the workplace at from http://www.ibka.org/Studie_kirchl_Arbeitsrecht and Dr Uppendahl's article on church employment law: http://www.bfg-erlangen.de/docs/kup-kirchliches-arbeitsrecht.pdf
From birth to death many Germans depend on social services that are paid for by the taxpayer, but run by the church. These church institutions, both Catholic and Protestant, operate in accordance with their own religious laws and they affect both employees and clients. These stories about ordinary Germans show what it means to live in the shadow of religious laws. To keep their jobs many must endure interference in their private lives.
In Germany employees of church institutions are forbidden to strike. They "enjoy" exemption from the country's labour laws. How do the churches justify denying employment rights? Through a theology of employment called the "third way". They claim that in church-run institutions there is so much brotherly love that any conflict of interest between employer and employee is impossible. Strikes are unnecessary and would only disturb the harmony....
German law opts for “church autonomy”, rather than “separation of church and state”. According to the Constitutional Court this lets the churches run huge enterprises (at public expense) where state employment laws do not apply, and the churches are free to make their own. This can mean that these employees can legally be fired if their personal lives don't conform to church rules.
Dr. Carsten Frerk, an authority on church finances, reveals for the first time in English that social service employees of German religious organisations number 2.5 million and that the German churches pay for less than 10% of their “good works”, with the taxpayer left to foot the rest of the bill.