Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bishop of Würzburg, Germany: Even One Departure from Church Too Many

As the German Catholic church takes account of what has happened in that national church during the past year, and finds that there is a huge exodus of Catholics from the church in Germany, Würzburg bishop Friedhelm Hofmann tells the media, “Every single departure hurts and is one too many."  The diocese of Augsburg lost 11,351 Catholics this year, while 17,169 Catholics in the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart left the church, and Würzburg lost 5,484 members.

I find Bishop Hofmann's statement encouraging.  At the same time, I try to recall any similar statement from a U.S. Catholic bishop in recent years, as one in three adults raised Catholic in the U.S. leave the church.  Despite a small flurry of discussion of this attrition rate in the latter part of 2010, I'm unaware of any official action the U.S. bishops have taken to address the attrition--and its causes.

I certainly haven't heard of any national dialogue the U.S. bishops are promoting to discuss why Catholics are leaving the church in such huge numbers.  Nor do I have the sense that many U.S. bishops are intently concerned about this matter--let alone about every single person who has left.

Though bishops are called to be shepherds modeling themselves on the Good Shepherd, who spoke (Matthew 18:12) of leaving the ninety-nine to find the one sheep who has strayed . . . .

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