We English are noted for understatement and it can be a powerful debating tool. Pentin genuinely leaves the reader free to make up his own mind, having taken the trouble to obtain replies from those who would take issue with the idea that the Synod was rigged. This results in the case being made more clearly and convincingly than it would be in a tendentious and one-sided account.
For anyone interested in the Synod, Edward Pentin's book is an essential contribution to the growing corpus of meta-studies on the proceedings. There are many nuggets of interest. One which jumped out of the (virtual) page was the comment of Professor Stephan Kampowski in relation to the Kirchensteuer, the German Church Tax. The Catholic Church in Germany receives about £5 billion each year give or take a few million. To stop paying the tax, you have to make an official declaration that you are leaving the Church.
I am not a moral theologian, but I guess that my colleagues in that discipline might be able to argue that there are grounds for making some sort of mental reservation on the grounds that you do not wish to actually renounce the faith, but wish to pay a little less in support of the Church according to your means. This would be difficult to justify, but plausible - as plausible, say, as arguing that your marriage is dead because you were both a bit young, or felt that you didn't take it all seriously and have now grown apart. However there are different approaches to the two cases.
Whereas many of the German bishops are in the vanguard of the campaign to admit the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion, no such mercy is shown to those who refuse the Kirchensteuer.
In September 2012, the German Bishops issued a decree ruling that those who choose not to pay the Kirchensteuer. (Allgemeines Dekret der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz zum Kirchenaustritt) Section II.1 of the decree states that a person who has made the declaration of withdrawal from the Church,
- May not receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, confirmation or Anointing of the Sick - (except in danger of death)
- May not hold any ecclesiastical offices or functions in the church
- May not be godfather or godmotther
- May not be a member of a parochial or diocesan councils
- Loses active and passive voting rights in the Church
- May not be a member of the public ecclesiastical associations
"The Rigging of a Vatican Synod" is available only as an electronic book download. Here are the links: