By Gudrun Schultz

REGENSBURG, Germany, February 24, 2006 ( – A German archbishop has stopped diocesan funding for a Catholic organization known to challenge the authority of the Pope as reported by Californian Gerald Augustinus on his blog.

Augustinus says Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of the diocese of Regensburg, in Bavaria, has cut off funding from the Central Committee of German Catholics, the main secular organization in the country. The Committee was receiving more than two million Euros in financing from the Church. Archbishop Müller has also suppressed the Diocesan council of Lay People and thirty-three other organizations.

The Committee openly criticized the hierarchy of the Church, calling for the development of a democratic structure that would give authority to the laity. Among other criticisms of the organization, the association Donum Vitae created by the Committee came under particular fire for aiding women in obtaining abortions. The association fulfilled pre-abortion requirements for women by offering counselling and certificates, clearing the way for the abortion procedure.

The Vatican is supportive of Archbishop Müller’s decision to institute lay reform. Pope Benedict XVI, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, called for the “de-bureaucratization” of the Church, and the strengthening of the Church’s missionary roots.

The Union for the Associations of the faithful to the Pope, an association started in the late nineties to counter the actions of the Committee, is asking other bishops to follow the trend set by the bishop of Regensburg.

According to Msgr. Alois Moestl, German lay reform is about “being a Christian out of conviction, not ‘Catholicism by Committee.'” The emphasis, he said, must be on the salvation of souls, “not primarily questions of organization.”

Archbishop Müller’s actions reflect a new era in the German Church, said Guido Horst for the German newspaper Die Tagespost. “It is the natural consequence of an increasing missionary sense of the Church rather than a bureaucratic institution.”

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