The number of Germans leaving the Roman Catholic Church rose in 2010 as the church wrestled with reports of sexual abuse of minors and attempted cover-ups.
About 180,000 Catholics officially ended their church affiliation in 2010, a rise of 50,000 (or 40 percent) from 2009, according to the weekly Die Zeit newspaper.
The defections also have monetary implications: people who formally leave a church in Germany are no longer required to pay a church tax.
If validated, it would represent the first time since World War II that more Roman Catholics than Protestants left their church in a single year.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers