One of the most peculiar characteristics of German life is the 'church tax'. If you call yourself a Catholic or Protestant when you register your residency, the state will automatically assess a so-called church tax, which it withdraws from your paycheck and transfers to whatever denomination you've indicated. Kind of like an automatic tithe. Many Germans who leave the church to avoid paying the church tax later re-enter in order to get married or buried in churches (which you can only do if you're a paid-up member). Then they often leave again.
Turns out it's not only foreigners who find something a bit odd about this. Hartmut Zapp, a retired professor of canon law (!) in Staufen decided to register his formal withdrawal (g) from the Catholic Church, which you must do at the local Justice of the Peace's office. However, on the withdrawal form, he gave as his reason that he wanted only to withdraw from the "Catholic Church" as a quasi-public corporate entity (Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechtes) on whose behalf the state collects taxes, but still wished to consider himself a Catholic and attend Mass.
The city accepted his explanation, but the local archidiocese rejected it, claiming that the further specification he added to the form rendered it invalid. Said the bishops: 'No church tax, NO CHURCH FOR YOU -- one year!'* The Freiburg Administrative Court has now ruled in favor of the Professor, and the Catholic Church has announced it will pursue all legal means to overturn that decision. If the ruling is upheld, it will probably spell the beginning of the end for the church tax.
I don't have much to say about this, I just thought it was interesting and would pass it along. Would the Catholic Church be able to continue to function in Germany only on the basis of private donations? Certainly not in its present form, I would imagine. All I can say is whatever happens, please don't f**k with the cathedrals!