Jan Fleischhauer, a journalist of the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, coined an expression to define the free fall of German Christianity: Selbstsäkularisierung (“self-secularization”). It is the Church being liquidated?
The German Bishops’ Conference just released the data on the decline of Catholicism in Germany for 2016. In one year, the German Catholic Church lost 162,093,000 faithful and closed 537 parishes. From 1996 to today, one quarter of the Catholic communities have been closed. “The faith has evaporated,” said Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1982 to 2007.
Christians in Germany will become a minority in the next 20 years, according to Die Welt. Around 60% of the country is currently Christian, with 24 million Catholics and 23 million Protestants. But that number is falling by 500,000 a year through deaths alone. “Those statistics are embodied by what visitors observe in German cities on Sunday: largely empty churches”, the Catholic theologian George Weigel wrote.
German Protestantism is facing the same crisis.