Churches show a sharp increase in withdrawals

For decades the churches in Germany have lost members, and now the process has accelerated: Almost 440,000 people left in 2018. The Catholic Church calls the development worrying.

The number of people leaving the church in Germany has increased in the past year. 216,000 people would have left the Catholic Church in 2018, said the German Bishops’ Conference in Bonn. This is 48,500 withdrawals more than in 2017, when 167,500 people turned their backs on the Catholic Church. Overall, the number of Catholics in Germany fell by over 300,000 to 23 million last year.

The Protestants left 220,000 people from the church, which is a bit more than the Catholics. The number of withdrawals in 2018 was 11.6 percent above the previous year, said the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) in Hanover. The total number of Protestants fell by 1.8 percent to a good 21 million. This roughly corresponds to the decline of 2017.

The EKD Council Chairman Heinrich Bedford-Strohm said that every exit hurt. However, unlike in the past, one could freely decide whether one would like to stay in the church. “We are grateful for the many people who today choose to be members of their church out of conviction.”

On the Catholic side, the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference, Hans Langendörfer, described the development as worrying. One reason for the increased number of withdrawals was certainly the abusive study published in September. This triggered a great debate. “Many do not believe us anymore that we act consistently and resolutely against perpetrators,” explained Langendörfer the German press agency.

Number of people seeking protection rises to almost 1.8 million

Around 1.8 million people seeking protection stayed in Germany in 2018. These include asylum seekers, approved and rejected. The number increased by six percent compared to the previous year.

The number of foreign protection seekers in Germany rose last year by six percent to almost 1.8 million. It thus increased by 101,000 compared to the previous year, the Federal Statistical Office announced. The number covers all people who are registered in the Central Register of Foreigners (AZR) and who are based in Germany on humanitarian grounds. The increase was about the same as in the previous year.

The list included all persons in an ongoing or already legally completed asylum procedure, including rejected or expatriate migrants. According to the Wiesbaden Federal Office, their number increased by eight percent or 15,000 to around 192,000 compared to the previous year.

Of these, however, the vast majority of 81 percent was tolerated. This means that the deportation was suspended. Most of the rejected refugees came from Afghanistan, Iraq and Serbia.

More seekers from Turkey and Iran

In total, around 1.3 million of all those seeking protection were recognized and thus entitled to stay in Germany for humanitarian reasons. That was eleven percent or 129,000 more than in 2017, most came from the war and crisis countries of Syria (526,000), Iraq (138,000) and Afghanistan (131,000). At 79 percent, the status for the vast majority of those seeking protection was limited in time.

According to the Central Register of Foreigners, the number of those seeking protection whose recognition procedures were still running declined by 43,000 to 306,000 between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018. Compared with the high level of open procedures that had built up after the major refugee movements at the end of 2016, it fell by 269,000. The reason is likely to be the processing of pending asylum procedures and the continued decline in the number of new asylum applications, the Federal Office said.

In 2018, however, the number of asylum seekers from Turkey rose against the trend. It increased by 40 percent from 10,000 to 14,000. The number of people seeking protection from Iran also increased by around 17 percent from 18,000 to 21,000.