The Germany That Awaits Benedict XVI

Fewer Priests, Seminarians and Women Religious

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 20, 2005 ( The Germany that Benedict XVI will visit next month during World Youth Day has lots of Catholics, but falling numbers of priests and religious.

Catholics comprise 33.2% of the country’s 82 million people, says a report published today by the Vatican press office. Catholics number 27.4 million, in 12,486 parishes.

The ratio of Catholics to priests in Germany is relatively favorable (1,456 to 1), but a crisis of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life is beginning to be felt.

Over the last 10 years, as reflected in the Vatican statistics, the number of major seminarians in Germany has fallen from 1,249 to 1,159, and the lack of priests in the country is evident.

Since 1996, the number of diocesan priests in Germany has dropped 8.4%, from 15,669 to 14,344 at year-end 2003. Over the same period, religious priests declined 7%, from 4,821 to 4,482.

The decrease in the number of women religious is particularly acute. Their ranks fell 21.8%, from 44,465 to 34,767. Men religious — those who are not priests — number 1,556.

Schools and institutions

There are 2,505 permanent deacons in Germany. Significant as well is the number of consecrated lay people in secular institutes (2,098), lay missionaries (461) and catechists (22,317).

The Church in Germany runs 9,478 kindergartens and primary schools (with a total of 645,735 pupils), 794 lower and secondary schools (with 296,184 students), and 35 high schools and universities (with 17,116 students).

The Church in Germany is the institution with the largest number of social and charitable works, administering 536 hospitals, 1,359 outpatient clinics, 2,588 homes for the elderly and handicapped, 1,298 orphanages and shelters, 2,030 family consultation and pro-life centers and 1,331 special education or retraining and social reintegration centers.

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