Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Fall of the West

And I say why not? Isn't this what 2008 Pauline Year of Ecumenism is all about? Why not just combine services too?

Seriously though, this is just more evidence of Europe's demographic trainwreck.

German Catholics to share churches with Lutherans

Hildesheim, Germany (dpa) - Hit by a budget crunch, German Catholics have appealed to Lutherans to share churches so that the two denominations do not have to maintain separate buildings, often in the same street.

The Catholic Diocese of Hildesheim in the northern state of Lower Saxony said Monday the appeal came from its diocesan council.

Arend de Vries, a senior official of the Lower Saxony Evangelic Church, the local Lutheran group, welcomed the idea, but said he would wait for the official request before making any offers.

Both denominations have suffered dramatic declines in income, although each can still claim about 26 million members nationally who are committed enough to pay a church tax on their income.

Only 14 per cent of Catholics attend Mass on any one Sunday and only 264 men volunteered last year to become priests.

But efforts to simply close under-used churches have enraged local people who insist many sites are architectural jewels.

Hildesheim, one of 27 German Catholic dioceses, has said it wishes to close 80 of its 438 churches in response to shrinking revenue. It will require local communities to pay all the running costs and maintenance on 86 more.

De Vries recalled that in the late 1940s and 1950s, many Catholic priests celebrated Mass for their own flocks in German Lutheran churches because they had no facilities of their own on new housing estates.

The two denominations are generally friendly with one another, but remain at odds on doctrinal issues.

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