Kevin Hargaden of Dublin’s Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice told this newspaper that instead of being dispersed over a number of churches, parishioners should gather in “larger groups”, creating opportunities for vacant churches to be repurposed for ecological means.
“I think that it’s a good idea for Christian communities that we would gather in larger groups for Mass on Sunday, but the buildings that don’t get used, I think can get repurposed. Again, that’s an opportunity for us to think about how do we make a church fit for the 21 Cenutry mission,” Dr Hargaden told The Irish Catholic.
He added that for a “whole bunch of logistical and operational reasons”, rationalising church buildings is a smart decision, and noted that unused land in parishes can also be rewilded – a process of restoring land to its natural state – to reduce Ireland’s collective carbon footprint.
Germany’s Catholic Church lost 216,078 members and Protestant churches lost some 220,000 in 2018, according to data published on Friday by the German Bishops’ Conference and the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The losses have hit hard the two main Churches of the country, as members pay up to 9% of their taxable income as church taxes.
Hans Langendörfer, secretary of the German Bishops’ Conference, described Friday’s figures as a ‘worrying’ statistic. “Every departure hurts,” said Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, president of the EKD. “Since people today, unlike in the past, decide out of freedom whether they want to belong to the Church, it is important for us today to make even clearer why the Christian message is such a strong basis for life.”
A study published by the University of Freiburg in May concluded that the number of people belonging to Germany’s two Churches will drop by half by 2060. The main reasons for declining membership in the two Churches include adults leaving the church, fewer baptisms and an ageing population, the researchers said.
Some of Hong Kong’s Christian leaders have issued an urgent call for the withdrawal of the extradition bill, an end to provocations and violence, and the establishment of a commission of inquiry to find the truth about the clashes. The letter, titled ‘Urgent Appeal regarding the Ongoing Clashes Between the Police and Members of the Public’, was signed by Card John Tong, apostolic administrator of the diocese, and Rev Eric So Shing-yit, president of the Christian Council of Hong Kong.
The two write that “The mass protests against the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (the infamous extradition bill) have resulted in clashes and violence between the Police and members of the public, and the situation is deteriorating. The people of Hong Kong are deeply worried and distressed.”
The two Christian leaders end their plea urging “the government to take the initiative to confer with the representatives of different factions to seek a solution to the current impasse.”