Jan Fleischhauer, a journalist of the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, coined an expression to define the free fall of German Christianity: Selbstsäkularisierung (“self-secularization”). It is the Church being liquidated?
The German Bishops’ Conference just released the data on the decline of Catholicism in Germany for 2016. In one year, the German Catholic Church lost 162,093 faithful and closed 537 parishes. From 1996 to today, one quarter of the Catholic communities have been closed. “The faith has evaporated,” said Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1982 to 2007.
Christians in Germany will become a minority in the next 20 years, according to Die Welt. Around 60% of the country is currently Christian, with 24 million Catholics and 23 million Protestants. But that number is falling by 500,000 a year through deaths alone. “Those statistics are embodied by what visitors observe in German cities on Sunday: largely empty churches”, the Catholic theologian George Weigel wrote.
German Protestantism is facing the same crisis. Die Zeit revealed that in 2016, 340,000 Protestants passed away, and there were just 180,000 baptisms. Some 190,000 people left the church and just 25,000 people chose to join it.
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If you have not been paying attention, the last thing you heard was that Syria had used sarin gas attack on civilians in 2013. President Obama’s “red line” was washed pink in an agreement with Russia to remove the weapons and destroy them at sea. The U.N. Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) special coordinator Sigrid Kaang, in a remarkably precise statement, said 96% percent of Syria’s declared chemical weapons were destroyed. Not 95% or 87% or 43.5%, but 96% on the nose. Secretary of State Kerry said: “In record time, even amid a civil war, we removed and have now destroyed the most dangerous chemicals in the regime’s declared stockpiles.”
It was good PR, but as a solution to a deadly violation of international law, it was a huge, gaping failure. The word “declared” is the giveaway — Syria was allowed to tell inspectors what it had and where, and the inspectors were allowed only to touch those sites. It you think they cheated, you are right.
This week, the Israel Air Force destroyed a “research center” in Syria, one that “researched” chemical weapons. The attack came the morning after U.N. investigators said the Syrian government was responsible for a sarin gas attack in April 2017. Israel has conducted approximately 100 strikes inside Syria in the six years of civil war, not to change the course of battle or support one side over the other, but to eliminate weapons and facilities deemed unacceptable threats to Israel — including missile factories, a nuclear reactor and now a chemical weapons factory.
Here is the lesson. Focus on the real regional threats and push off peripheral issues.
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