GERMANY - Catholic Churches Demolished or Repurposed

Arno Froese

On November 19, 2022, the Church of the Holy Cross, the only Catholic church in the district, was formally deconsecrated and subsequently closed—despite opposition from Rüdiger Kirkskothen and other parishioners.

“All our protests failed,” the 79-year-old Kirkskothen told DW. “We even wrote to the Vatican. That didn’t help either.”

Some parts of Germany have lost a particularly large number of churches over the past two decades, such as in the archdiocese of Hamburg, which includes Kiel. The number of closures is exceptionally high in Kiel. In response to an inquiry from DW, the secretariat of the German Bishops’ Conference explained that 650 Catholic churches have “ceased to be used for worship’” nationally since 2005, speaking of a “veritable wave of secularization.” From 2019 to 2023, an average of 28 churches were lost each year across Germany.

Church buildings are even being closed or downsized in the financially strapped dioceses of Aachen and Essen but also in traditionally Catholic areas, such as the diocese of Augsburg, where German bishops are currently holding their general assembly.

The declining number of houses of worship is in keeping with the trend: every year, the major churches are losing hundreds of thousands of members. As of 2023, one in two Germans no longer belonged to either of the major Christian churches.

Churches that are no more than 150 years old or were built after World War II are demolished or deconsecrated. And yet, for many people, the church building is part of their concrete family history, like for the faithful in Kiel-Elmschenhagen. “It means a lot for someone who knows that their great-grandpa worked on the scaffolding or that their grandma got married there; they still know the stories about the piggy bank that was emptied to build the church.”

“You may have read a thousand times in the newspaper that the role of the church is dwindling or that the number of church members is falling rapidly. But when your own church is demolished, it becomes a reality, it hits home,” said Matthias Sellmann, a Catholic theologian at the University of Bochum. In many cases, the buildings were not merely religious sites but also had social, political, architectural, or artistic significance. “It always involves the loss of a social anchor.”

-www.dw.com, 19 February 2024

Arno's Commentary

Apparently, churches older than 150 years—of which there are multiple thousands throughout Germany—stand under monument protection, and in reality are not really functioning as a church where congregants meet exclusively.

From a population approaching 85 million, 24.8% of Germans are Catholic, 22.6% Protestant, and a whopping 46.3% not declaring any religious association. 

The next to last sentence quoted above reveals the real cause of the loss of members: “the buildings were not merely religious sites but also had social, political, architectural, or artistic significance.”

According to the Bible, the Church is the body of Christ, consisting of all those who have placed their personal faith in Jesus Christ as the only avenue to eternal salvation. The apostle Paul, to name one, describes the Church with these words: “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16). Quite to the point: no social, political, cultural, or artistic significance. 

Peter goes deeper: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Thus, the real Church, consisting of born-again believers, is not limited to any nationality, culture, language, or tradition; it is truly universal. Actually, the Church can be called the real globalists, the real “New World Order.” That is precisely what the enemy—namely, the devil—attempts to recreate globally with all nations of the world. We may add, he is and will continue to be very successful until the world is united with law and order for all, peace, prosperity, and security. This will lead to the declaration of one man as Antichrist, who will present himself to the world as the savior. Revelation actually declares: “and all the world wondered after the beast” (Revelation 13:3b). That is the wish of every politician on planet earth.

When reading or hearing about globalism, the New World Order, and various other movements and organizations that supposedly are in charge to create this new unity, believers should understand that it is only an imitation of the true global Church, the body of Christ, the bride of the Lamb.

The apostle Peter reveals prophetically, not only the future of the world, but also the future of the Church. He concludes that both the earth and the heavens, “shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:12), but then adds, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (verse 13).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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