Austria: The Catholic Church has lost more than 210,000 faithful in ten years
According to the agency France Presse, the phenomenon has accelerated even further this summer in the wake of the scandal which broke out at the seminary of Sankt Pölten, now closed after a decision taken by Rome (see DICI n° 102). “In the first eight months of this year alone, the diocese of Vienna has lost 10,709 faithful, that is 10.8% more than the preceding year,” said Erich Leitenberger, spokesman for the Austrian bishops, speaking to AFP. “This significant and worrying development has also been noted in the eight other dioceses” of the country, he added.
According to the financial weekly Wirtschaftsblatt, these departures will cause the Church a “loss of income” of some 50 million euros per year, since the faithful who leave the Church no longer pay the Church tax. For a long time a taboo subject, the question of the financial impact of departures of the faithful from the Church “was tackled” during the last meeting of diocesan financial directors, acknowledged Josef Lidicky, who presided over this conference. The figures put forward by the Wirtschaftsblatt are however “exaggerated,” said Mr. Lidicky, without giving any of his own. He simply said: “Every departure is one too many.”
According to a recent survey, “the rejection of the Christian faith” is considered by 41% of the Austrian people as one of the “greatest fears for the future.”