The number of church exits in the diocese of Münster in the year 2018 increased compared to the previous year: 11.442 Catholics declared their resignation, that was 2.746 more than in the previous year. 369 Persons who had once left the church, rejoined the Catholic Church in the diocese of Münster last year, were joined by 210 entries from other Christian denominations.
Like the episcopal press office on the 19. July in Münster further announced 2018 in the diocese of 14.565 people have been added to the church by baptism, 131 more than 2017. The current number of Catholics in the bishopric was 2017 at 1,85 million, that is around 20.000 less than a year earlier. Münster is the second largest diocese in Germany, behind the Archdiocese of Cologne.
There was a significant decline last year in the diocese of Münster among the people who attend the fair on Sundays. 2018 were 149.731 Catholics (8,1 percent), making 17.161 less than last year. There were also declines at confirmations (2018: 12.189; 2017: 13.006) and first communions (2018: 14.713; 2017: 15.436). The number of church weddings (plus 3.682) and funerals with 35 (plus 20.517) increased slightly compared to the previous year with 519.
The Bishop of Münster, dr. Felix Genn, explains to the numbers: "The numbers can not be nicely explained. People are voting with their feet as to whether they believe us to be believable and trustworthy, and whether the fellowship in the Catholic Church appears to them in principle to be necessary for a good and successful life. Unfortunately, this is no longer true for many. We have lost relevance to people's lives.
Surely, the results of the study on sexual abuse in the church published last year have been the triggering moment for many people to say: now it's enough for me. We can not undo the crimes committed by priests on children and adolescents. We can only do everything in our power to ruthlessly work through the past and to let victims know that they are the focus of the work-up. And, of course, we must do everything we can to prevent future sexual abuse: from prevention efforts to changes in the systemic factors that promote sexual abuse in the church.
The exit figures also show that if we do not want to be just a small minority very soon, there are still big challenges that we want to set ourselves with courage. Not just to run after the zeitgeist, but to be a church in time and with people. We should do that, not for our own sake, but for the sake of the people for whom and with whom we are church. People need to know that we are ready to dialogue and change, that we do not want to focus on ourselves, but that we want to be there for them. We want to be an open, adaptable and humble church. We want to be a church that enriches life and serves people. We have to do this better than in the past. "