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World News

Record number of Catholics turn their back on the church in Germany

by Donna Birrell

More than half a million baptised Catholics left the Catholic church in Germany last year, according to new figures from the German Bishops’ Conference.

It’s the highest number ever recorded, with 522,821 leaving in 2022 – but if deaths are included, that figure rises to more than 708,000.

Just over 155,000 baptisms were recorded, with 1,447 people joining the church in the same period.

The number of people leaving the church last year was 44 per cent higher than the 360,000 recorded in 2021. In 2020, just over 270,000 people left the church.

Nearly 21 million people in Germany are officially listed as Catholic – almost a quarter of the country’s population of 84 million.

Despite these departures, Church statistics for 2022 show that nearly 21 million people in Germany remained officially Catholic by the end of the year, representing 24.8 per cent of the country’s resident population of 84.4 million.

The figures also show a slight increase in Mass attendance in 2021 – up from 4.3 per cent to 5.7 per cent. The number of church weddings also increased by around 15,000 to 35,467 in 2022.

The Catholic Church in Germany is currently undergoing a period of reform known as the Synodal Way. It has been criticised by some traditional Catholics who oppose any attempt at making the church more liberal.

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