Germany's two major churches, the Roman Catholic and the Protestant (Lutheran), have lost more than 5.5 million members since 1990.
Church membership in the population of the new (formerly East German) states is about 25 percent. In cities such as Leipzig, the figure is as low as 5 percent. With a combined total of more than 50 million members, the two churches still rank among the country's largest institutions.
|Orthodox Christians and Eastern Orthodox churches||1,400|
Source: Conference of German Bishops, Protestant Church of Germany, Remid
Even so, their role in political and social issues is shrinking, and alienation between church members and church leaders is growing. For example, most Catholics are opposed to the bans on premarital sex, contraception, clerical celibacy and women priests. Scandals surrounding incidents of abuse, mobbing and the disciplining of refractory priests continue to rock congregations. Catholic bishops, in particular, have consistently rejected calls for reforms from internal activist groups.
Both churches are faced with increasing financial woes and being forced to impose spending cuts, reduce staff, divest property and even - as in the case of Berlin, Hamburg and the diocese of Aachen - sell or tear down churches.
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