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Germany: 162,000 Catholics left Church, 537 parishes closed in 2016

July 24, 2017

162,093 Catholics left the Church in Germany during 2016—down from 181,925 in 2015, according to statistics released by the bishops’ conference on July 21.

28.5% of Germans are Catholic, and the Catholic population stands at 23,582,000, down from 27,533,000 in 1996.

537 parishes closed in 2016. Over the past two decades, over 3,000 parishes have closed, with the number declining from 13,329 to 10,280.

There are now 13,856 priests in Germany, down from 14,087 the previous year. The Sunday Mass attendance rate was 10.2% in 2016, down from 10.4% in 2015.

Some other statistics:

  • The number of baptisms declined from 259,313 in 1996 to 171,531 in 2016. However, the number of baptisms has risen for two consecutive years.
  • The number of adult converts fell from 3,860 in 1996 to 2,574 in 2016, and the number of adults who returned to the Church fell from 6,981 to 6,461.
  • First Communions declined by over 100,000, from 291,317 in 1996 to 176,297 in 2016.
  • Catholic weddings fell from 79,453 to 43,610.
  • The number of Catholic funerals declined from 286,772 to 243,323.


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  • Posted by: pja - Jul. 24, 2017 6:17 PM ET USA

    How many Muslim converts were there? How many new mosques opened? What % of the German population - including recent arrivals who may be residents but not citizens - is Muslim? Bet the contrast is stunning.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jul. 24, 2017 5:48 PM ET USA

    When I consider the ancient patrimony of the Faith in Germany, it makes me physically ill to watch the dwindling of the Faith and the dying of her parishes. Where are the Saints who will lead the Germans back to the faith that so many of their ancestors paid so dearly?

  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 24, 2017 4:51 PM ET USA

    "By their fruits you will know them." Matthew 7:16