Germans leaving Church at record rate

Bishop Georg Batzing, president of the German bishops

A record 272,771 people left Germany’s Catholic Church in 2019, the nation’s bishops’ conference has reported. Source: The Tablet.

The number represented an increase of more than 56,000 on the 216,000 who left in 2018, and exceeds by a large margin the previous record of 218,000 leaving in 2014.

The figures are part of a growing countrywide exodus from the Christian Churches. The German Protestant Church saw a similar loss of members, with 270,000 people ending their membership in 2019, an increase of 22 per cent on the previous year. The figures in Germany are easy to record, because those leaving officially opt out of the otherwise compulsory church tax.

The chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, said the statistics could not be made to look good in any way and that the sharp drop in baptism and wedding ceremonies that was also recorded showed the “erosion of a personal attachment to the Church” particularly clearly.

Around 27 per cent of Germans are still tax-paying Catholics, and 25 per cent tax-paying Protestants, which accounts for the continuing wealth of the churches, but the relentless erosion of these funds year by year is taking its financial toll, while the spiritual toll on the individuals and the churches is immeasurable.

Meanwhile Bishop Bätzing, who was elected president of the bishops’ conference in March, paid his inaugural visit to Pope Francis last week.

He said the Pope was watching the synodal procedure for church reform in Germany very attentively and “wants us to make headway”.


People leaving German church at record rate (By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet)

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