Fewer places of worship in germany

Fewer places of worship in germany

Fewer and fewer Catholic places of worship in Germany © Swen Porter

There are fewer and fewer Catholic church buildings as places of worship in Germany. According to a survey of dioceses, more than 500 such buildings have been abandoned for various reasons since the turn of the millennium.

About 140 of them had been demolished, the others had been sold or would be used elsewhere for church services. At the survey of the Internet portal catholic.de, 25 of the 27 dioceses had participated, two had not given any concrete information.

Uneven distribution

The numbers, so the portal further, are thereby very unequally distributed: In the diocese of Mainz and in some southern German dioceses, no churches have been closed or demolished. In the Essen diocese alone, on the other hand, 105 churches have been closed – 52 of them profaned, i.e. desecrated, and 31 demolished. In the diocese of Munster, 55 houses of worship have been profaned and 24 demolished.

The Bonn liturgical scholar Albert Gerhards called on those responsible to rethink before it was too late: "We are only at the beginning of this development," Gerhards emphasized: "If there is no rethinking, a strong increase in demolitions is foreseeable for the coming years."

According to Gerhards, who has been working on the ie of church closures since the 1990s, many places of worship are being abandoned prematurely. One of the biggest "errors in thinking" is that one "converts the number of churches to the number of priests". But there is a wide range of services and worship-related forms that can also be led by lay people: "They also need an appropriate place for this; so the priest-church calculation does not add up."

Learning to appreciate intangible value

Misjudgements, Gerhards continues, are also frequent when the "value" of a church is calculated. In the process, he says, too little attention is often paid to the "immaterial value," such as the emotional significance for local people. Churches are characteristic of a city district and form its identity. Therefore, "not only believers, but also people who are far from the church" appreciate the place of worship in their local district.

According to Gerhards, there are many sensible possibilities for conversion, especially in the area of art and culture or in cooperation with charitable institutions: "There are often opportunities for cooperation that also contribute to the long-term financing of the building."Partial conversion is always preferable, in which at least part of the church is still used for religious services.

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