The German bishops’ conference has announced that a record number of people are leaving the Catholic Church, with some 272,771 exiting the faith community during 2019.
That number indicates a decrease of another 56,000 compared to the 216,000 who left in 2018. The previous record number occurred in 2014, with 218,000 deciding to leave the communion.
The chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, lamented the figures and noted that a significant drop in baptism and wedding ceremonies demonstrated the “erosion of a personal attachment to the Church."
After meeting with Pope Francis at the end of last month, Bishop Batzing said the Holy See “wants us to make headway”.
"The Pope’s heart is with us in Germany," he added.
The loss of members did not occur exclusively within the Catholic Church however, with the German Protestant Church (EKD) experiencing a similar decline, losing 270,000 people in 2019, which is an increase of 22 per cent on the previous year.
EKD head Heinrich Bedford-Strohm said that he grieved the loss of every person from the church, but insisted ministry leaders remained "highly motivated".
Churches in Germany are also set to suffer financially from the mass exodus, as both the Protestant and Catholic denominations require a standard church tax payment to be deducted from the incomes of registered members.