A RECORD number of Catholics in Germany have turned their backs on the church. They officially cancelled their membership in the wake of child abuse scandals that rocked church institutions across the country.
A record 180,000 German Catholics left their church for good in 2010, and it appears the child abuse scandal was the main reason for the dramatic rise in departures.
Data provided by 24 of Germany’s 27 Catholic dioceses and published by the newspaper Die Zeit shows that 50,000 more Catholics canceled their church membership last year than in 2009, an increase of 40 percent.
It was what the church had feared, Alois Glück, head of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics said.
“It’s a dramatic signal and a clear message that we have to take the issue seriously; winning back people’s trust has to be at the core of our efforts for renewal and dialogue.”
Germany has faced revelations over the past year that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused in church institutions throughout the country. All but a handful run were by the Roman Catholic Church.
It looks likely that this is also the first time in Germany’s postwar history that more Catholics officially renounced their church membership than Protestants: Germany’s Protestant church estimates that just fewer than 150,000 people left in 2010.
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