FRANKFURT. Forty thousand buildings by 2060. This is the number of properties that the Evangelical and Catholic churches in Germany will find themselves forced to sell or demolish following the drastic drop in numbers of faithful in their respective congregations and running costs. This was reported in a joint report by the Evangelical Church in Germany (Ekd) and the Catholic Association of German Dioceses (Vdd), as reported by the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. According to the report, among the main buildings to be relinquished by regional churches and Catholic dioceses are vicariates and community centres. Buildings often protected by Monuments Act making it difficult to use for other purposes, such as residential or cultural centres. According to the estimates of the joint document, about 80% of the 42,500 sacred buildings of both churches are protected by the monument law. However, it is possible that the state offices for the preservation of monuments are interested in cooperation, Christina Krafczyk, president of the State Office for the preservation of monuments of Lower Saxony, told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. church buildings should be preserved as cultural heritage.
The two churches currently still have numerous properties in Germany. According to the EKD, the Evangelical Church owns about 21,000 ecclesiastical buildings, 17,000 canonries, 13,000 community centers and community houses and another 14,000 buildings housing kindergartens. However, efforts are being made in many regions in Protestant parishes as well as Catholic dioceses to sell properties or prepare them for sale. The decision is mainly related to the decline in the number of church members and the consequent evolution of church tax revenues. At the same time, sometimes the decision to sell or give up buildings is linked to the high costs of maintaining the property. In 2021, Catholic dioceses had received around €6.73 billion in church taxes. Protestant regional churches have reached 5.99 billion. A few weeks ago, the German Institute of Economics (IW) presented data according to which church tax revenues are expected to rise to a nominal 14.4 billion euros by 2027. But due to inflation, the actual value of this income will drop significantly to 11.3 billion euros.