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The €31-million bill for Franz-Tebartz Van-Elst's residence, including €15,000 on a bath tub and €350,000 on built-in-wardrobes, has put the finances of the Catholic Church, much of which comes from taxpayers and state subsidies, into the spotlight.
Carsten Frerk, an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church in Germany, estimated its wealth at around €430 billion with about €140 billion of that in capital, the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reported. Frerk researched the church's ledgers for a year for a book published in October 2010. But only a small part of the church's finances are public and many of their records remain secret.
The opaqueness of the church's finances was no surprise to Frerk. "For the big churches, transparency is very damaging to their business plan. Nobody wants to donate to a rich organization," he said.
But some details of the church's vast holdings and investments are publicly known.
Bild newspaper reported on Thursday the church was Germany's second-biggest employer after the state, running everything from schools and kindergartens to Tellux, the TV company which makes the Tatort crime drama. It also makes money from its breweries and selling mineral water called Adelholzener. The church also owns ten banks, countless insurance businesses and 30 housing associations, Bild reported.
€5 billion collected in taxes
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. I am not sure if they can get out of paying if they do not belong to a church or not but it is something to consider.