Several German bishops expressed dismay over the figures. Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau described the numbers as “frighteningly high,” while Bishop Bertram Meier of Augsburg acknowledged the Church’s need to regain trust with “patience and credibility.”
Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, stated on his diocese’s website that the “alarming” figures underscore the need for continued “cultural change” and the implementation of the resolutions of the German Synodal Way.
A 2021 report by CNA Deutsch noted that 1 in 3 Catholics in Germany were considering leaving the Church. The reasons for leaving vary, with older people citing the Church’s handling of the abuse crisis and younger people pointing to the obligation of paying church tax, according to one earlier study.
The German Bishops’ Conference currently stipulates that leaving the Church results in automatic excommunication, a regulation that has sparked controversy among theologians and canon lawyers.
A 2019 forecast by a project of scientists at the University of Freiburg predicts that the number of Christians paying church tax in Germany will halve by 2060.
Despite the crisis, the Church saw a slight increase in Mass attendance in 2021, rising from 4.3% to 5.7%, after the coronavirus crisis prevented the celebration of many sacraments. The number of church weddings also increased from just over 20,000 in the previous year to 35,467 in 2022.