Financial concerns, celibacy, sexual morals, and personal experiences: The reasons people give for leaving the Catholic Church are often very personal and individualistic. The drop that is overflowing on the camel’s back for many and the reason for the surge in numbers in the recent past is likely the Munich abuse report.
Shows the application at the registry offices of the Marktheidenfeld district: in January and February, 156 people left the Catholic Church. This represents more than half of those who turned their backs on the church in 2021 (292 people left). In the past two years, it’s been just under 200 each.
The numbers for January and February do not allow to predict 2022
The exit numbers for 2021 tend to be excessive, due to traffic congestion due to the limited opening hours of the registry offices. However, the figures available for January and February do not allow forecasting until the end of the year.
A 77 percent jump in resignations was already recorded in 2013. This was probably caused by the issue surrounding Limburg Bishop Franz Peter Tibartz van Elst and the resulting loss of confidence in church leaders. Since the mid-seventies, social events in particular have repeatedly led to waves of resignations. It is not uncommon for this to have tax reasons, such as changes in value-added tax, capital gains tax or a solidarity surcharge.
Reverend Hermann Becker on the reasons for leaving
Reverend Hermann Becker, Archdiocese of St. Laurentius am Spessart, reports on people who left for these reasons: a young family with young children forced to the rescue; Or a man who is a little over sixty and expects an end of service gratuity from his previous employer.
“I can’t imagine anyone leaving church to save taxes,” said Reverend Alexander Eckert (Divarch of the Holy Spirit in Spessartgrund). Tax savings—such as current allegations of abuse—may be the reason, not the actual reason for leaving.
“Those who are now conspicuously leaving the Church have long since left inwardly.”
Reverend Alexander Eckert
It doesn’t matter what someone says: “Those who leave the church now clearly left inwardly long ago,” says Eckert. He sees this behavior at least as honest and consistent.
Reverend Matthias Wolpert: Younger people who do not have connections to the church are leaving
Above all, young people who no longer have any connections to the church will leave the church, says Matthias Wolbert, pastor in the Erlenbach-Trivenstein parish community. “People of all ages are out there,” Becker notes.
Anyone who no longer wishes to belong to the Roman Catholic community must declare this to the responsible registry office. This in turn reports the departure to the church for entry in the log books. Wolpert explains that all those who left receive an anonymous questionnaire asking about the reasons for leaving. “Only about 10 percent of surveys are returned, and the interview presentation was never used,” Wolpert says.
Reverend Eckert seeks personal contact with those who have left
Alexander Eckert actively seeks contact, sometimes telephoning after those who have left. It is often heard that a person no longer has a relationship with God. “If this bond is missing, I can understand people are turning their backs on church,” he says. Baker knows others who have been disappointed personally in the church and are therefore leaving. He says it is rare for them to join other religious denominations.
Eckert asks, however, that the term “church” be understood differently. And it’s not just the institution, cumbersome and characterized by human action: “When people meet, things that need to be condemned happen,” he explains. And he does not hide the fact that he strongly condemns abuse within the Church.
Priests in Markthedenfeld want to strengthen people’s relationship with God
When the allegations of abuse became known, the credibility of the ecclesiastical values of many Catholics collapsed. People who do volunteer work in the church are also concerned about whether they can continue to stand by this church.
If the Catholic Church were just an institution: “Nothing would keep me in the church,” says Eckert. But even more important is the mandate given by God: “Convey Jesus’ message of love and peace.” He and his colleagues see their mission as strengthening people’s relationship with God.
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