Switzerland : “One Swiss citizen out of five has no religious affiliation”

Source: FSSPX News

Bishop Vitus Huonder of Coire.

On June 19, 2012, the Federal Office of Statistics (OFS) published the structural summary of the federal census of the Swiss population in 2010, ten years after the last census conducted in 2000.  The data about Switzerland’s religious landscape reveal that, as of late 2010, 38.8% of the population belonged to the Roman Catholic Church and 30.9% to the Evangelical Reformed Church, 4.5% to Muslim communities and 0.2% to Jewish communities.  The percentage of persons without religious affiliation reached 20.1%, as opposed to 11.2% in 2000, or an increase of 8.9%.  Catholics decreased by 3.7% and Evangelicals by 3.2%, whereas the Muslims increased by 0.9% [of the total population].

On June 20, 2012, the GFS-Zürich Institute published the results of a survey of German-speaking people (from both the German-speaking and the French-speaking districts) who left the Church in Switzerland, conducted by telephone between March 26 and April 14, 2012, contacting 1,000 persons.

Almost 21% of the members of Catholic and Reformed communities are thinking of leaving their church:  a percentage that has decreased since 2010, when 27% of those surveyed were seriously thinking about leaving their community.  Moreover, approximately 15% of those surveyed declared that they would scarcely think of leaving, as opposed to 9% in 2010.

In the Catholic Church, persons having a higher education are more likely to think of leaving the Church (29%).  Among the Protestants, the less educated (29.7%) and young people (26.7%) are the ones who think most about it.  German-speaking Swiss consider leaving their church in greater numbers than the French-speaking.  Among those who have already left the church, only one out of ten says that he can imagine returning someday.

The study conducted by Peter Spichiger-Carlsson points out that the Diocese of Coire lists the highest number of Catholics who have left the Church during the past five years, and asserts that this wave of departures could be explained “by a problem specifically connected with the local diocese”.  For the religiosity of the Catholics in the Diocese of Coire is no less than in other regions of the country, and this difference, it assures the reader, is not found among the Protestants.

The bishop’s chancery in Coire strongly called into question the study by the GFS-Zürich Institute, in a press released published on June 21.  Indeed, the Reformed communities of the canton have been “affected for years by the phenomenon of people leaving the church, and in a proportion that is at least similar,” it recalls, regretting that this fact is not mentioned.  Consequently this interdenominational phenomenon requires “a more in-depth investigation of the reasons”.  The system of taxation in Switzerland (in which a taxpayer who mentions his religion has to pay a tax to his Church or community, Editor’s note) could be “one possible reason” for people leaving the church.  “The free churches and other Christian groups without systems of taxation are experiencing an influx of members,” the Diocese of Coire explains.

At the same time, Bishop Vitus Huonder of Coire considers the present development as “an evolution toward a ‘deliberately chosen Christianity’” which will help “these deliberate decisions to be made based on correct information.”  That demands clarity as to what the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is.  “The bishop is not willing to remain silent about the positions of the Church that could be inconvenient for some, just so that they will continue to pay their taxes,” the press release emphasized.  That is why the pastoral ministry of the Bishop of Coire “is based on the traditional Catholic faith” and on clear Catholic communication, since many aspects of the Catholic faith are unknown by people today, the document continues.  “The Ten Commandments have never been very popular, but they are an essential part of Christian doctrine.  If the Catholic Church set out to follow the trends in society, it would be no more than a relative catholicism,” Bishop Huonder had explained in his 2012 Lenten Pastoral Letter, which recalled that “those who are divorced and remarried, because of their decision to enter a new marriage, place themselves in a situation that makes it impossible for them to receive the sacraments.”  (Sources:  bfs/ap/apic/bistum-chur/gfs – DICI no. 259 dated August 10, 2012)

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Switzerland: Between 25,000 and 30,000 “leave” the Catholic church in 2010