Würzburg/Bonn. The German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) announced the church statistics for the Corona year 2021 on Monday afternoon, June 27th. The figures give an overview of the number of Catholics as well as baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages, burials, entries and exits and readmissions. As in the previous year, the statistics are significantly influenced by the effects of the pandemic, as this has also had an impact on church life.
According to DBK information, Catholics make up 26 percent of the total population in Germany as of December 31, 2021 (21,645,875 Catholic church members). At the same time, the Diocese of Würzburg had 689,537 Catholics (2020: 706,099 Catholics). More than 52 percent of the population in Lower Franconia (1,320,093 inhabitants according to the government of Lower Franconia), which is almost identical to the Diocese of Würzburg, are Catholic.
The number of people receiving the sacraments has increased significantly again. In 2021, 5,218 baptisms took place in the diocese (2020: 3,563). An increase was noticeable in the number of communion children, confirmations and marriages. 5164 First Communion children were recorded in 2021, significantly more than in the previous year (2020: 4772). The same development applied to Confirmation. There were 3,945 confirmed candidates in the diocese, compared to 2,690 in the previous year. There were 782 church marriages (2020: 427).
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The number of church burials rose again in 2021 to 8975 (2020: 8532). According to DBK information, 10,567 Catholics left the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Würzburg in 2021, significantly more than the 7,186 in the previous year. There were readmissions at a similar level with 103 (2020: 102). There were 29 entries (2020: 23).
“The development of the church statistics in 2021 hurts me a lot in view of the high number of resignations. But the result was to be expected with an honest look at the situation,” said Bishop Dr. Franz Jung. Like many Catholics, he was angry and disappointed about “the problematic image that we as a church give – in Germany, in the Vatican and in the world church. It should come as no surprise to anyone that many people are currently withdrawing their trust in the church and are also refusing to approve of our good deeds.”
According to Bishop Jung, there are “huge construction sites” in the church. This includes, above all, the clarification and processing of sexual abuse in the church. “But we also have to improve when it comes to handling the finances entrusted to us and the transparency of church activities that the faithful rightly expect,” emphasized the bishop. It is important not to make any false promises. “We will not be able to resolve these issues in a short time.”
The bishop is all the more grateful to everyone who lives their faith in Jesus Christ in the community of the church and is present where people are looking for help. “It is in the local churches where living relationships with Christ grow and are nurtured, where people find meaning and joy in their faith and where they put a lot of energy into it. Thank you for enduring all the upheavals and loss of trust, supporting necessary changes and continuing to be Christians among the people.”
Worship services were also held to a limited extent in 2021 due to the pandemic. On average, around 36,000 Catholics attended the Sunday service in 2021 (2020: around 50,000), which is 5.2 percent of all Catholic believers in the Kilian diocese (2020: 7.1 percent). “The streaming of church services and the offers for designed house services have absorbed a lot. Unfortunately, this is not recorded by the church statistics,” said Vicar General Dr. Jurgen Vorndran.
According to TV Mainfranken, an average of around 10,000 viewers tuned in to the service transmission from the Kiliansdom on Sunday morning. A total of 677,894 viewers watched the eight broadcasts of services from St. Kiliansdom on Bibel TV in 2021. Numerous congregations broadcast their services live on the Internet. The individual services from the cathedral reached an average of 300 viewers live via YouTube. On average, another 3,000 people used the delayed option, and there were around 300,000 views in total in 2021. Around 860,000 viewers nationwide watched the live broadcast of the Christmas service from St. Kilian’s Cathedral on ZDF.
As of December 31, 2021, the Diocese of Würzburg had 283 active diocesan and religious priests, 154 retired priests, 132 deacons, 78 of whom worked part-time, 149 pastoral officers, 39 of whom worked part-time, 119 parish officers )en/-assistants, 50 of them part-time, seven pastoral employees, one of them part-time, and 123 religion teachers in church service, 44 of them part-time.