Congregations: Number of people leaving the church remains high

The number of people leaving the church in North Rhine-Westphalia remained high in 2023.

Congregations: Number of people leaving the church remains high

The number of people leaving the church in North Rhine-Westphalia remained high in 2023. As a sample survey by the German Press Agency of local courts suggests, the numbers are trending slightly below the record level of 2022. However, thousands also turned their backs on the church in the year that is now coming to an end.

In the state capital Düsseldorf, 5,172 Catholics and 3,469 Protestants left the church this year by December 19th, and in 2022 as a whole there were 6,211 Catholics and 3,338 Protestants. In Cologne, the largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia, with a population of over a million, there were 14,430 people leaving the church in the period from January 2023 to November inclusive, and in the whole of 2022 there were 20,331. The Aachen district court recorded 5,747 people leaving the church by December 19th. In 2022 there were 5211.

In Bielefeld, 3,974 people left the church by December 20th in 2023, and 3,831 in 2022. In Münster, 5,379 people turned their backs on the church by the end of November this year, including 3,649 Catholics; in 2022 as a whole there were 6,869, of which 5,085 Catholics. In Oberhausen in the Ruhr area, 1,733 people had left the church by the end of September this year, and in 2022 there were 2,409 for the whole year. In Duisburg, 2,261 people left the church by the end of November this year. In the entire year of 2022, 2,425 Duisburg residents said goodbye to the church.

The German Bishops' Conference (DBK) reported a spectacular negative record for 2022: nationwide, 522,821 Catholics turned their backs on their church. Protestants reported a total of 380,000 people leaving the church nationwide in 2022. In North Rhine-Westphalia there was also a high of 223,509 people leaving the church in 2022.

Regarding the preliminary figures now determined for the current year, religious educator Ulrich Riegel said: "On the one hand, nothing significant has changed that should significantly break the exit dynamic. On the other hand, nothing significant has happened - such as a new one Report that concerns a prominent bishop - which should drive the wave up significantly."

It is difficult to say whether, for example, the discussion about the resigned council chairwoman of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and president of the Westphalian Regional Church, Annette Kurschus, will be reflected in the figures. “I myself am expecting high values ​​again,” emphasized Riegel. “It doesn’t really matter whether a record comes out of it.”

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