World News

Germans lose confidence in Catholic church - poll

Leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland Cardinal Keith O'Brien touches his cross during an interview after his Easter Sunday homily at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland April 4, 2010. REUTERS/David Moir

BERLIN (Reuters) - A majority of Germans have no confidence in the Roman Catholic Church and a quarter of the country’s Catholics are considering quitting the church in the wake of a growing sex abuse scandal, an opinion poll found.

The survey to be published in Focus magazine on Monday found 56 percent have no confidence in the Church following reports of hundreds of cases, some many decades old, of sexual abuse by clerics and accusations of cover-up.

Only 18 percent have faith in the Church, the survey of 613 Germans by Focus found. Among Catholics, 26 percent said they were considering quitting the Church, which is a formal act in Germany and has consequences on income tax.

A similar poll by Stern magazine in March found that 19 percent of Catholics were considering leaving the Church.

Last week, clerics in Germany used Easter sermons to pray for the victims as public sentiment against the Church turned decidedly negative. Thousands quit the Church in the last month.

A victim hotline set up last week in a bid to win back trust by Stephan Ackermann, Bishop of Trier and the Church’s expert on abuse, was swamped with 12,293 calls in its first week and was briefly shut down. Only calls from 2,670 could be answered.