Religion: Pope oversees a dwindling church
22 September 2011
“The Church dies in Europe,” headlines Tygodnik Powszechny on the occasion of Benedict XVI’s visit to Germany starting September 22. Statistics published by the German episcopate tell it all: in 2010 over 180,000 Germans left the Church while only 170,000 were baptised. Also, the number of vocations has been dwindling: in 2009, 120 candidates entered the seminary; a year later there were just 79 of them. Similar trends are observed in countries like Spain or Ireland, once considered Europe’s Catholic vanguard. “Less churchgoers, less vocations, less support for the Christian ethic, less Vatican authority”, writes the Polish Catholic journal, noting that sex abuse scandals have “swept away the Irish Church” and made many people turn their back on the Catholic Church. “Churches of the Old Continent should get used to the fact that the age of the masses is over and they will not, hand in hand with the rulers, convert and baptise the crowd”, observes priest and theologian Paul M. Zulehner.