29 Jan 2011

Defections increase as thousands leave German Catholic church in wake of clergy abuse scandals

Monsters and Critics - December 19, 2010

Fresh Catholic church abuse allegations, as Germans leave in droves

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Berlin - New allegations of sexual child abuse by Catholic clergy surfaced in Berlin on Sunday - as it emerged that thousands of Germans had left the church in the wake of this year's abuse scandal.

A caller to an abuse hotline set up by the Catholic church alleged that a Berlin priest had abused minors in the 1990s, the church said.

The diocese of Berlin had launched investigations and placed the priest on temporary leave, the diocese added.

Meanwhile it emerged that tens of thousands of Germans had left the church this year, according to a survey by German Press Agency dpa, in the wake of serious allegations of clerical abuse, many dating back to the 1960s.

The string of revelations started in January at the Canisius College, another Berlin church institution.

In Augsburg, where Bishop Walter Mixa admitted earlier this year that he had hit children in his care, more than 11,000 left the Catholic church, the survey showed. The previous year's figure had been below 7,000.

Daily Frankfurter Rundschau reported that more than 17,000 had left the Diocese of Stuttgart, an increase of more than 50 per cent on the previous year.

Other Catholic dioceses reported similar rises in numbers of people leaving the faith. In many instances, believers switched to the Protestant church, according to daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

In Germany, membership of Christian and Jewish religious denominations is formally documented and used as a basis for charging so-called church taxes to fund religious institutions. Other religious groups have waived this option to tax members.

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