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Bishop Georg Bätzing has warned of declining numbers of Catholics in Germany (CNS/Harald Oppitz, KNA)

The German Bishops Conference president has called Germany – a nation whose very history is entangled with the Catholic Church – a “mission country”. Source: National Catholic Register.

In an interview with the Society of the Divine Word’s German-language magazine, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg said: “We live in a missionary country when we realise that less than half of Germany’s citizens still belong to the Christian denominations.”

Bishop Bätzing said evangelisation had been a central theme “since [St Pope] John Paul II and also for [Pope] Francis.”

The German prelate continued: “But the other half are not simply faithless or don’t ask any questions, and in this respect, I believe we need to do much more.” 

“We should get in touch with these people, talk to them without being intrusive. These times of a mission with a negative tone are over, but speaking and answering questions about the hope that fills us, as the letter to the Hebrews says, is part of Christianity.”

Bishop Bätzing has led the Diocese of Limburg since 2016 and the German Bishops Conference since 2020. In 2016, more than 630,000 Catholics resided in Limburg. By 2022, this number had dropped to fewer than 540,000. 

The Catholic population in Germany, a nation of about 83 million people, has fallen from 22.19 million Catholics in 2020 to 20.94 million in 2022.

Researchers paint a stark picture of the future: In 2019, a project of scientists at the University of Freiburg predicted that the number of Christians paying church tax in Germany would halve by 2060.

Three years later, in 2022, more than half a million baptised Catholics left the Church, figures released by the German Bishops Conference confirmed. 

At the time, Bishop Bätzing stated on his diocese’s website that the “alarming” figures underscored the need for continued “cultural change” and the implementation of the German Synodal Way resolutions.

However, the German Synodal Way, which has advocated for significant changes to traditional Church teachings since 2019, has not stemmed the dramatic decline in Catholic numbers. 


Bishop Bätzing Calls Germany a ‘Mission Country,’ Amid Declining Catholic Numbers (By AC Wimmer, National Catholic Register)