Rorate Caeli

Record Number of Church Defections in Germany. Cardinal Marx: "This is the Joy of Francis"

DENIAL: The state of the Church in Germany
As it has been recalled on Twitter, almost twice as many defections from the Church in Germany under Francis than under Benedict XVI... Well, well...

German Bishops' Conference: Numbers of Catholics Leaving the Church Are at Its Highest On Record

Daniel Deckers
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
July 17, 2015

218.000 persons left the Church in the year 2014, 22 percent more than in the year before – and, besides that, more than ever before. The reason for it, according to the Archbishop of Freiburg, is very profane and secular.

In the year 2015, more Catholics than ever have left the Church. As the Catholic Bishops' Conference reported on Friday, the number of people having left the Church has risen 22 percent within the last year to now 218,000. The number of baptisms has remained nearly the same, however, when compared to the previous year: 165,000. The number of new members whom the Church has received either by entrance or by a re-entrance, has further sunken. Taken together, this number – for the first time – is less than 10,000.
The Bishops' Conference did not say anything about the deeper causes for such developments. Its president, Archbishop Marx of Munich, was quoted as saying that these new statistics show “that Church is multi-faceted and has still had a missionary force, even though the high number of exits from the Church makes us painfully aware that we do not reach people with our message.” Archbishop Burger, of Freiburg, spoke of the “irritations caused by the new way of gathering the Church taxes by referring to the capital incomes – which was erroneously then interpreted by many as an 'increase of taxes.'” Originally, the Church tax [Kirchensteuer] was only gathered together with the other taxes, when the tax payer formally requested it. Now, since 1 January 2015, it happens automatically. When, at the end of 2014, the banks started to inform their members about this new procedure, the number of exits considerably increased in the Catholic Church as well as in the Protestant churches.
[Concerning the numbers of the regular participants at the Sunday Mass: it is now 10.8 percent.] In 1990, the year of the re-unification, the number of the regular participants at Sunday Masses was 21.9 percent.

Also with regard to the priests and religious, the signs of implosion in the Church become visible only in a longer-term view. For example, the number of active priests [not yet retired] went down within the last fifteen years from nearly 13,000 to around 9,000. At the same time, fewer and fewer young men now prepare themselves for the priesthood in the seminaries. The number of female religious has been nearly cut into half since 1999 and is now down to approximately 17,500. Concerning the male religious, there is to be found a reduction of nearly 30 percent.


Press Release of the German Bishops' Conference, 17 July 2015


Concerning these statistics, the President of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, declares:

“The statistics which have been published today show that the Church is multi-faceted and has a missionary force even if the high numbers of people leaving the Church painfully remind us that we do not reach people with our message. Behind the numbers of exits are personal life decisions which we deeply regret in each individual case, but which we also respect as a free decision. We shall continue to strive to fulfill credibly our mission, so that we can proclaim the joy of the Gospel and so that many people find. or also find again, a home in the community of the Church.

In the meantime, we do not overlook that we live in an open and pluralistic society. As Church we are an active member of society. The Gospel of Jesus Christ which we proclaim is, in its kernel, a message which truly liberates man. We intend to continue to fulfill this mission with the help of a manifold engagement. In the parishes, religious orders, associations, institutions, and also in Caritas, many people are engaged in different ways. I thank them from my heart, because the Church lives with, of, and for, the people.

The joy of Faith and the élan of Pope Francis are of great help for us in this [mission]. We want, together with him, to be in Germany a Church “on the move,” which is actively engaged in society for the sake of men and God and which gives witness to the great message of the Gospel.”

[Translations kindly provided by Maike Hickson.]