“It worries me a lot”

Heiner Wilmer, Bishop of Hildesheim © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

According to Hildesheim Bishop Heiner Wilmer, the Corona crisis is leading to a further loss of members in the Catholic Church. Looking at current exit numbers, he fears there will be "a Corona effect".

He told the newspapers of the publishing group Bistumspresse (Sunday) in Osnabruck that. "I ame that if the distance regulations and precautionary measures fall, we will have another drastic slump in churchgoers," said Wilmer.

Question of relevance

All in all, the increasing number of people leaving the church did not make him depressed. "But it worries me a lot." Phenomena such as the abuse cases, the structure of the church and the church tax are only superficial causes for the development, he said. Increasingly, there is also the question of relevance. "We as the Catholic Church are losing importance in interpreting people's lives," Wilmer said. The Catholic Church is only one provider among many meaningful alternatives in society.

Instead of classic parishes with a claim to absoluteness, according to the bishop, there is a need in the church for more "power centers" that have a charisma and are led by committed Christians instead of priests. This could be, for example, a university community, a group or a house community. Wilmer emphasized: "I don't want to talk down the classic parish. But we need alternatives in proclamation."

Increase in church departures also in the diocese of Hildesheim

Christians must learn how to live the Good News and also proclaim it, and not evaporate into virtual space, the religious demanded. "It's about being together, walking through life shoulder to shoulder, sitting across from each other at the kitchen table, at the workplace, where people are aging, where they are sick and fragile, eye to eye, laughing with each other, crying with each other and really being physically present."

Like all German dioceses, the diocese of Hildesheim is seeing an increase in church departures for 2019. 8.048 people turned their backs on the church here, 1.030 more than the year before. The total number of members in the diocese dropped to 581, according to statistics released last Friday.460 (2018: 593.360) back.

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