Significantly more people have left the church since the beginning of the year | free press


Since the beginning of the year, far more people have left the church than in previous years. This is the result of a survey by the German News Agency of the largest municipalities in Germany.

Thousands have turned their backs on the Church. One reason could be the report on cases of abuse in the Catholic archdiocese of Munich and Freising, presented in late January and made headlines around the world.

The city of Munich alone recorded 9,074 people who left the church by April 8, according to a spokesperson for the district administration department. In the comparative period of 2021 they were just under 5,000. The respective name has not been registered.

In the first half of January, ie before the report, about 80 people had left the church each working day in Munich; after January 20, the day the report was submitted, there were sometimes up to 160 people leaving the church each working day, about double that.

The city of Augusta recorded 1,012 resignations by April 8, about 300 more than in the same period last year. In Regensburg, where the later Pope Benedict XVI. when Joseph Ratzinger once taught at the university, the number of 1470 resignations was even more than double compared to 2021 (681).

Leaving the church not only in Bavaria

But not only in Bavaria people left the church in droves in the first three months of the year. The president of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK), Georg Bätzing, recently said during the spring plenary assembly at the pilgrimage site of Vierzehnheiligen that the faithful are turning their backs on their church “in droves”.

The trend is similar across Germany: in Cologne the number of people leaving the church in the first quarter of this year was 5780, in 2021 it was only 3346 in the first three months. left the church in the first three-month quarter of 2022 was according to the district court 1655 compared to 896 in the same period last year.

In the cities of Baden-Württemberg, the number of people leaving the church in the first three months of the year was double compared to the same period last year. According to the municipality, 1,183 people in the Baden city of Freiburg had declared their retirement from the church by April. In the previous year, 561 people had left the church. By 813, the Catholic Church accounted for the majority of those leaving this year to Freiburg. The numbers also increased in Ludwigsburg, Ulm and Konstanz compared to the previous year.

In the first three months of this year, until April 8, 2,140 people in the Lower Saxony state capital, Hanover, turned their backs on their church, including 782 Catholics. In the corresponding period of the previous year there were 1669 people.

In the two main Saxon cities of Dresden and Leipzig, many more people have left the church since the beginning of the year than at the same time last year. By 8 April, there were 725 church exits in Dresden, compared to just 69 in the same period in 2021. According to the city, this was also due to an emergency pandemic operation at the time. In Leipzig, 853 people have left the church since the beginning of the year. In 2021 there were 617 in the same period.

Reports of abuse have caused a stir

On January 20, the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) law firm presented an expert opinion on behalf of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. Experts hypothesize at least 497 victims and 235 alleged culprits, but at the same time from a significantly higher number of unreported cases – and the fact that the archbishops of Munich – including the later Pope Benedict XVI. – had behaved incorrectly in dealing with him.

Religious educator Ulrich Riegel, who conducted a widely acclaimed study on church exits in the diocese of Essen, was already counting on a new exit record at the end of February this year. “The probability is very high.” The Munich report is “much clearer than the previous ones, because it named specific people,” he said. And with Ratzinger, “among those questioned there is a person who, as pope emeritus, has a greater public impact than, for example, the bishops of Cologne and Munich”.

At the end of 2021, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) had only about 19.725 million members, a decrease of 2.5% from the previous year. The German Catholic Bishops’ Conference does not want to announce the data for 2021 until the end of June. However, the effects of the Munich abuse report will not yet be recorded there. (Dpa)

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