Catholic Church in Germany experiences exodus of members amid abuse scandal

(Photo: Unsplash/Niklas Ohlrogge)

The Catholic Church in Germany lost over half a million people last year as it continues to grapple with an abuse scandal.

The number of people formally leaving the Church reached 522,821 last year, up from 359,338 in 2021 and a record high. 

The departures do not include deaths, which when included bring the figure above 708,000.

Only 1,447 people joined the Church in the same period. 

Almost 20.9 million people remained members of the Church, according to figures released by the German Bishops’ Conference on Wednesday. 

The Church did not offer reasons for the exodus but it coincides with a long-running clergy abuse scandal, with a 2018 report revealing thousands of victims over decades, many of them children.

Irme Stetter-Karp, head of lay organisation, the Central Committee of German Catholics, said she was “sad but not surprised” by the extent of the departures. 

“This figure speaks a clear language,” she said, according to AP.

“The Church has squandered trust, particularly as a result of the abuse scandal. But it also is not showing enough determination at present to implement visions for a future of Christian life in the Church.”

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