Representatives of the Protestant and Catholic churches have expressed concern about the immense number of new church departures. The head of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, spoke out in the picture on Sunday for a comprehensive investigation of why so many people are leaving.
At the same time, the churches should be even more open, said Bedford-Strohm, who is also the Bavarian state bishop: "We must not wait until people come to our churches or parish houses. We have to go where the everyday life of people is. " The church should stretch its arms wide "when people turn to us, be there when people are in need, meddle and protest publicly, and help specifically when refugees drown in the Mediterranean and no one looks and saves them," said he.
Its predecessor in office, Margot Käßmann, called it a "huge loss" if the trend towards leaving the church continues. Germany was "shaped in a good way" by Christian beliefs, wrote Käßmann in her column for the Bild am Sonntag . Mercy, for example, is shown in this country by the fact that nobody falls into an abyss when unemployed. Charity is lived with every initiative for the homeless. "I don't want to miss that," wrote Käßmann. She had seen for herself "how happy people were when they could find consolation in a church in all their fear in Corona times".
ZdK sees potential savings in bishop's apparatus
"I regret every resignation," said the President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Thomas Sternberg, the Catholic News Agency (KNA). He also does this "because people have left the church who have been with her for many years, but are now turning their backs on them, because they are upset about reform stalls and other issues and because they no longer trust the church."
In view of falling church tax revenues, exacerbated by the Corona crisis, he also warned of cuts in the areas of education, training and international cooperation. "There we are in the middle of our basic church mandates: worship, caritas and proclamation of faith," said Sternberg: "All three fields must be the guidelines for our commitment." On the other hand, he sees savings potential above all with the episcopal administrations. The ZdK is the lay organization of Catholics in Germany.
Bishop: Addressing the local emergency more
The Catholic bishop in Würzburg, Franz Jung, called for more patience and patience. A climate of aggression spreads quickly if changes cannot be made in a short time, he said. "If you want real change, you have to be patient and try to persevere in shaping processes." This applies to church reform as well as in ecumenism, but also to the conversion to a sustainable economy and the achievement of climate goals.
The bishop spoke of an "increasing polarization of our society in which communication is brutalized". A real confrontation becomes more and more difficult, "because instead of differentiated solutions, simple explanations are preferred with the maintenance of enemy images and conspiracy theories". It is important to perceive the brokenness of the world, for example in the case of failure in the face of abuse cases. Jung asked that the local church should focus more on local distress in the future. Corona "made clear what we all already knew long ago, but never really wanted to know".
According to data from the German Bishops' Conference and the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) presented at the end of June, more Christians left the church last year than ever before. The Catholic Church lost 272,771 members, the Evangelical Church around 270,000.