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COLOGNE, Germany (ChurchMilitant.com) - Nearly one-third of German Catholics are ready to leave the Church, according to a recent poll.
A survey conducted in June and released on Thursday shows that 30% of Catholic Germans agreed with the statement, "I am a member of the Church and can imagine leaving the Church soon." Research institute INSA Consulere administered the poll for the Catholic weekly newspaper Die Tagespost.
The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Bp. Georg Bätzing of Limburg, admitted the statistics do not look good in any way.
"[It clearly shows an] erosion of a personal attachment to the Church," Bätzing observed, as he coupled this statistic with the sharp drop in baptisms and wedding ceremonies.
The survey follows the release of official figures last month showing a record number of German Catholics formally left the Church in 2019. According to the statistics, 272,771 people exited the Catholic Church in Germany last year, a significant increase from the 2018 figure of 216,078.
As the numbers dwindle, around 27% of Germans are still tax-paying Catholics while 25% are currently tax-paying Protestants. This accounts for the wealth of the churches. Nevertheless, while the erosion of funds year after year takes its financial toll, Christian observers recognize the spiritual toll on Germans is immeasurable.
Faithful Catholics in Germany are not surprised. The demise coincides with the "Synodal Way," a two-year plan by the bishops for "reforming" the Catholic Church in Germany. Considered a modernization project by the German Bishops' Conference, Church Militant has been reporting for several months on this heterodox movement.
In June, Bp. Helmut Dieser of Aachen claimed the Church will become irrelevant if doctrines are not modernized.
"Our forum and the Synodal Way must be a success," asserted Dieser. "If we don't succeed in the Synodal Way, then I'm afraid we will first become a sect."
This "way" includes the bishops' efforts to change key, immutable doctrines on sexual morality and the ordained priesthood. Further, as Church Militant reported on Thursday, it includes efforts to feminize the Church by emasculating priests and placing more women in leadership positions.
A longer-term goal, as German Benedictine Fr. Anselm Grün expounds, is the ordaining of women to the priesthood — which blatantly ignores Pope St. John Paul II's irreformable word on the subject.
As the Church in Germany races toward schism with its Synodal Way, it does not occur without pushback from orthodox Catholics. Faithful clergy and laity have frequently decried the German Synodal Way. One cardinal archbishop, Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne, has repeatedly criticized what his brother bishops in Germany are doing.
"The Catholic Church must remain Catholic," insisted the Cardinal, who spoke out in June against the Synodal Way.
Cologne auxiliary bishop Dominik Schwaderlapp also slammed his fellow bishops, saying they were using the forum to cast doubt on fundamental Church teachings by pushing gender fluidity.
"Over the last 50 years in particular, the Magisterium of the Church has produced precise statements on questions of sexual morality," he said, and "in doing so it has deepened and developed the teaching of the Church. 'Further development' can never mean destroying what is there, rather it should build on it."
In September 2019, the Vatican's head of the Congregation of Bishops, Cdl. Marc Ouellet, called out the German bishops, saying their synod was "not ecclesiologically valid."
Pope Francis in June 2018 had sent a 28-page letter to German Catholics, urging them to focus on evangelization in the face of a "growing erosion and deterioration of faith."
Today, seminaries are closing, and priestly vocations are on a steady decline.
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