BERLIN — It is a paradox of modern Germany that church and state remain so intimately tied. That bond persists more and more awkwardly, it seems, as the church’s relationship with followers continues to fray amid growing secularization.
Last week one of Germany’s highest courts rankled Catholic bishops by ruling that the state recognized the right of Catholics to leave the church — and therefore avoid paying a tax that is used to support religious institutions. The court ruled it was a matter of religious freedom, while religious leaders saw the decision as yet another threat to their influence on modern German society.
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