Germany: Defection of churchgoers, closure of churches

Source: FSSPX News


The issue of the use of churches and buildings which are no longer in service is becoming more and more acute in Germany, where the number of practicing Catholics is diminishing, which is leading to regrouping parishes. The situation is particularly serious in the eastern part of Germany, formerly under communist regime, which has many fewer faithful than the west.

But "the western parishes will also have to decide soon what they wish to do with their churches", observed Matthias Ludwig, of the Institute of Architecture and Contemporary Religious Art, at the University of Marbourg, who has drawn attention to the diminishing number of faithful and funds in western Germany.

The architect warns against the example of Holland, where disused churches have been demolished or made over to other religions, amongst others, to Muslim communities, or even transformed into cafés.

Last year, Germany had 26,460,000 Catholics, that is 200,000 less than in 2001, according to a communiqué of the German Bishops Conference, of November 5 last. They represent 32.1% of the population in 2002, that is, a drop of 0.2% in one year. The number of regular Sunday churchgoers registered an even more significant drop: estimated at 4 million in 2002, they have diminished by 400,000 in one year. The proportion of churchgoers during that period has gone from 15.9% to 15.2%.

According to data issued by the German Bishops Conference, the number of nuns has dropped from 30,042 in 2001 to 28,973 in 2002. That of monks in the same period from 5,576 to 5,250, and priests from 16,988 to 16,777.