Painful trend

Painful trend

Together with the other German dioceses, the Archdiocese of Cologne today published church statistics for 2013. According to the report, the number of people leaving the church rose last year even in the diocese with the most members in Germany.

At the end of 2013, there were 2 living in the Archdiocese of Cologne.056.173 Catholics in the 529 (2012: 546) parishes of the 180 (182) pastoral areas. The resignations amounted to 17.012 (10.547), while 278 (316) admissions were recorded. "As diocesan administrator, I am saddened by every resignation with which a person openly expresses his distance from the church and its offers of meaning," explained the current head of the archdiocese Stefan Hebe. As a cause for the increase in numbers, the archdiocese cites, among other things, the scandalous events surrounding Tebartz-van Elst. Diocesan Administrator Stefan Hebe Stresses the archdiocese had drawn consequences from the case:

"I am sad as diocesan administrator about every resignation, with which a person openly expresses his distance to the church and its offers of meaning. In the past year, the handling of a raped woman by the Catholic clinic in Cologne and the discussions about Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst in Limburg provided two occasions that shook the confidence of many people in the church and also led some to leave it.

From both occasions we have learned here in the archdiocese of Cologne. The position on the "morning-after pill" was revised by Joachim Cardinal Meisner. In the area of finances, we became even more transparent and have already proven through the disclosure of figures that we use the money and assets of the Church for the people in accordance with our goals (for example, in kindergartens, schools and the parishes of the archdiocese). Because man is the center of our attention. These were two first steps to regain the trust of the people in our archdiocese.

Studies have shown that around one third of Catholics are considering leaving the Church. Last December, for example, in compiling the feedback from the Archdiocese of Cologne for the extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome, it became clear that there was a strong difference between church teaching and the lives of Catholics in the area of family and sexuality. These much-discussed topics are known.

I am really saddened by the fact that among those leaving are many people (about 90 percent) who say that they do not look to the Church for answers to the question of the meaning of life. For me, faith offers answers to my questions of meaning. The Good News of a loving God carries me through my life. It is positive that in today's pluralistic society each individual can search for answers for himself or herself. We, as the Archdiocese of Cologne, therefore need to make it more evident that we have interesting answers to offer.

Pope Francis and newly appointed Archbishop Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki are especially committed to helping the poor and disadvantaged. Such a commitment to the other is for me a very fitting expression of one's faith. In outreach to the poor and weak, our message of a loving God and an answer to the question of meaning become visible. In this time of many changes and new beginnings, I hope to inspire as many people as possible with the message of Jesus."

Church departures and excess deaths led to a reduction in the number of Catholics compared with the previous year, from a combined 12.979 people (2012: total 2.069.152 Catholics). 793 (845) persons who had left were readmitted. On the other hand, gratifying increases have been recorded in the number of confirmations. The numbers are up by 10.517 (2012: 9.800) rose. The number of services has changed only slightly compared to 2012. On census Sundays, 190 attended.818 (206.015) Believers the 1.498 (1.475) services, representing a percentage of 9.28 (9.96) percent. Despite the high number of departures, more people want to be buried in church. 20.902 (20.199) Deceased persons were buried in 2013. Baptisms last year amounted to 14.082 (14.430). In the year under review, there were also 16.023 (16.801) children made their First Communion. The number of ecclesiastical marriages increased slightly to 3.472 (3.683) slightly decreased.

Nationwide trend

With 24.170.754 church members, Catholics make up 29.9 percent of the population in Germany (2012: 30.3 percent). Due to structural changes in the dioceses, the number of parishes decreased from 11.222 to 11.085 decreased. Overall, the number of sacraments administered by the Catholic Church decreased slightly, as in previous years. 2013 there were 164.664 baptisms (2012: 167.505) and 43.728 weddings (2012: 47.161). The number of entries into the Catholic Church is 3.062, the number of readmissions at 6.980 persons.

Critically, the number of people leaving the Church increased to 178 in 2013 after a declining trend for several years.805 has increased (2012: 118.335). Attendance at church services was also down in 2013, at 10.8 percent. The total number of priests in Germany has increased by 146 priests to 14.490 priests decreased. The number of pastoral ministers and assistants increased slightly to 3.140 (2012: 3.119) increased, the number of parishioners decreased slightly to 4.470 (2012: 4.479).

Commenting on the statistics, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the German Bishops' Conference, said: "The current numbers are painful and all in the church must take this seriously for their actions. The second half of 2013 has obviously led to a loss of trust and credibility. We must counter the high number of people leaving the church by constantly trying to create trust at all levels through good and convincing work. This is of course especially true for us as bishops and priests. In addition, the statistics also show a continuous social upheaval: people are – thank God – free to decide for or against belonging to the church, and they do so. But not all those who have left the church thus lose all contact with the church. Many want – in their own way – to remain Christians. We must seek dialogue with them and make it clear that the community of faith is an important help and enrichment for us Christians. The openness to the Gospel and the search for transcendence are there, after all. Incidentally, I note that while worship attendance has declined on average, it is certainly also increasing on certain days, as pastors have reported to me, for example, looking back on Easter and Corpus Christi, and as I experience it myself. We must therefore take people's decisions seriously and see them as a challenge for our work. We will certainly also talk about all this within the framework of the German Bishops' Conference.

I am not discouraged, but also see the statistics as a helpful wake-up call: the numbers once again shake us up to ask how we must reposition ourselves now and in the future so that the Gospel can continue to be heard and lived. For this very reason, I am grateful to the many full-time and voluntary church workers who contribute to the diversity of life in our congregations and associations."

Protestant church also affected

For the eleventh time, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) also published its brochure with "Facts and Figures on Church Life" on Friday. It provides information about many areas of church activity of the 20 regional churches and 14.769 Protestant parishes in the Federal Republic of Germany. According to the 40-page brochure, of the approximately 80.5 million citizens of the Federal Republic, 23.35 million belonged to the Protestant regional churches.

The number of members in the EKD area fell by 263 in the last survey in 2012.552 persons compared to the previous year. The 270.652 Protestant funerals, 138.195 resignations from the Protestant regional churches and other declines could be compensated for by 20.231 readmissions, 13.148 change from other Christian churches, 168.048 children and 18.548 adult baptisms would not be offset. 827.000 people or 3.5 percent of church members attended a Protestant service every Sunday in Germany. At Thanksgiving, the number of churchgoers would double, and on Christmas Eve, 8.5 million people went to church.

The offers for children and young people are very popular. Regularly, 311.000 adolescents to the events of the churches intended for them. With the children's Bible weeks, the regional churches reached about 292.000 of them. Other events for children and youth work are attended by 642 young people each year.000 young people participated. In the Federal Republic of Germany, there are 1.134 Protestant schools with 168.172 pupils. In addition, in the area of the EKD 6.269 inpatient facilities, including 2.570 in the elderly, 1.495 disability and 1.152 youth welfare services as well as 392 hospitals with a total of 329.905 places operated. In addition, there would be 8.733 day care centers. In the Protestant Diakonie worked 449.100 people full-time, of which 196.000 full-time and 253.100 part-time. They would be replaced by about 700.000 volunteers supported.

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