Status: 07/14/2021 1:44 p.m.

In the past year, fewer people left one of the two large churches in Germany than in 2019. That probably has to do with the consequences of the pandemic – and does not mean a trend reversal.

From Tilmann Kleinjung,
BR

The churches are losing members, albeit not as many as in previous years. 220,000 people left the Protestant church last year. In the record year 2019, there were 270,000. The situation is similar with the Catholic Church: the number of people leaving the church has fallen by around 19 percent compared to 2019 to 221,390 people.

The fact that fewer people left in 2020 could also be due to the fact that the registry offices and local courts offered fewer appointments in the Corona year 2020. That is why the representatives of the two large churches are reluctant to assess the latest figures. Nobody is talking about a trend reversal.

He worries every time he leaves the church, says the Protestant regional bishop and EKD council chairman Heinrich Bedford-Strohm. He asked himself “what we as a church can do to convince people of the good sense of membership in our church”.

The chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing, blames the abuse scandal for the continued high number of people leaving the church. Many wanted to set an example by leaving. “We take this very seriously,” said the Limburg bishop. He promises “the thorough processing of cases of sexual abuse”.

The number of baptisms has fallen sharply

In the long term, the corona crisis could have serious consequences for the churches. This is also evident from the new membership statistics: the number of baptisms has practically halved in the Protestant Church, in the Catholic Church it has decreased by a third.

Many congregations had to severely restrict their worship services during the pandemic. Family celebrations could often only take place in a small group. This year there is therefore a real wave of baptisms in the parishes, according to a press release from the Evangelical Church: Many baptisms that could not take place last year are now being made up.