Thousands of Germans have quit the Catholic Church in the wake of a series of sex and corruption scandals that have left the institution reeling.
By Matthew Day, Warsaw
In one diocese alone, Rottenburg-Stuttgart, by mid December 17,659 had turned their back on the Church, compared to 4,563 for the whole of 2009, according to new research by the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper and the DPA press agency.
Augsberg, reflecting a downward trend experienced by most dioceses, saw its flock decline as 11,351 left the Church in comparison to the 6,953 the year, while in Trier 7,029 people quit, a 2,500 increase on the previous year.
“I have never experienced anything like this since my ordination in 1969,” said Bishop Friedhelm Hofmann of Wurzburg, adding that “every single departure is one too many”.
The bishop suggested that the exodus was linked to the sex and corruption scandals that have blighted the Catholic Church this year both in Germany and abroad.
The desertation poses potential financial problems for the Church – under German law a recognised member of a church can donate some of their taxes to the institution, so if people renounce their membership the flow of money diminishes.