German church exits spike amid bling bishop furor

The Associated PressJuly 18, 2014 

— The German Bishops' Conference says the number of Germans leaving the Roman Catholic church jumped sharply last year, an apparent result of an uproar over a bishop's lavish new residence.

The conference said Friday that 178,805 people formally left the church in 2013, compared with 118,335 the previous year. The figure was just short of the 181,000 people who quit the church in 2010 amid a scandal over sexual abuse by clergy.

Pope Francis permanently removed Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst as Limburg bishop in March, months after an outcry erupted over his residence's 31 million-euro ($42-million) price tag.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who heads the bishops' conference, said "the second half of 2013 evidently led to a loss of confidence and credibility."

Germany's Catholic church had nearly 24.2 million members last year.

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