While it may be premature to estimate the long-term impact of the child sex abuse scandal, the latest figures were startling enough to raise concern in the German Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops.
Last year, well before the scandal erupted, 125,585 Germans chose to leave the church, up from 121,155 in 2008, the bishops said.
"Anyone who leaves the church wants to fulfill his faith and his life's desires without the church in the future," said Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, the bishops' president, in a recent statement. "That kind of decision always raises questions directed at us from which we cannot shy away."
The numbers provide both clarity and confusion about the state of the Roman Catholic Church in Pope Benedict XVI's homeland.
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