Switzerland: A New Record of People Leaving the Church in 2021

November 03, 2022
Source: fsspx.news

More than 34,000 Swiss Catholics left the Church in 2021. This is the sad observation of the Swiss Institute of Pastoral Sociology (SPI), which counts 2,500 more people leaving than in 2019. According to the report, Switzerland had less than 3 million Catholics – 2.96 million – at the end of 2021. The outflow rate was 1.5%.

The situation in Switzerland is similar to that of neighboring countries, explains the SPI. Germany also recorded an exit rate of 1.5% in 2021, and Austria of 1.6%. According to the report, the Reformed Protestant Church of Switzerland also saw a record number of departures in 2021 – 28,540 in 2021, compared to 26,000 in 2019. Protestants numbered 1.96 million at the end of the year.

The SPI and the Federal Statistical Office put the Catholic Church in first place, with 33.8% of the permanent resident population; next come people with no religion (30.9%), then Reformed Protestants (21.8%). In 2016, the “without religion” group had overtaken the Reformed Protestants.

Reasons for Leaving

According to Urs Winter-Pfändler, project manager at the SPI, the pandemic played quite a role: it rather affected other factors such as attendance at religious services, baptisms, or confirmations. The institute conducted a telephone survey to better understand the reasons for this massive abandonment of the Church.

According to the results, the departures are mainly related to the public positions of the Church: the position of women in the Church, the treatment of same-sex couples, or those who have remarried, and questions relating to the beginning and end of life, such as abortion and assisted suicide. Less frequently, the reason given was loss or lack of faith.

Among Reformed Protestants, the exact opposite is true: matters of faith were the main reason for leaving, along with the economy of church taxes. Compared to 2014, these reasons have not changed over the years. Neither the Catholic Church nor the Reformed Church have succeeded in changing the reasons for these departures.

This result is a tragic illustration of the futility of the doctrinal deviations that flourish in the German Synodal Path, and now in the World Synod on Synodality. It is not by aligning itself with the doctrines of the world that the Church will be able to retain the faithful.

Because, on the one hand, in this game, the world always wins. And on the other hand, if the Church is nothing more than a substitute for the world tinged with religiosity – in other words, if the salt has lost its saltiness – what is the use of the ersatz?