New record for the number of Catholics leaving the church in Austria within a quarter: slightly over 30,000 in this past January, February, and March. This is 42% more than in the same period a year ago – but that had also been a new record, in the wake of the disaster with the St. Pius X bishops and after Pope Benedict XVI appointed the controversial Fr. Gerhard Maria Wagner to be auxiliary bishop of Linz. Among many other things, Wagner had said that Katrina was caused by people’s sins (especially sexual, especially homosexual). He was eventually persuaded to decline the nomination. More typical losses to the Austiran church have been 40,000 or less per year – c. 10,000 per quarter. Austria has been hit hard recently by abuse revelations in several monasteries, schools, and parishes. Because the government collects tax monies for the Church from those who still belong, this means the Church will lose 7 million euros (roughly $ 9.3 million) per year from the lost sheep. Of course the spiritual loss is immeasurable.
UPDATE 4/24: Dioceses in Germany are reporting the number of those leaving the Church in March. In Osnabrück and Cologne it’s double from the same month a year ago. For other dioceses, here are the typical numbers from previous years and the number for March 2010:
Bamburg: 200-300 / 1400
Würzburg: 407 / 1233
Regensburg: c. 40 / 193
Rottenburg-Stuttgart: 1400 / 2676
Freiburg: 1058 / 2711.
Augsburg, where Bishop Mixa recently submitted his resignation, has had 4,300 leave since since January 1. In Berlin the inner city has seen a three-fold increase for March, but the diocese as a whole has not seen an increase.