More than half a million people formally left the Catholic Church in Germany last year, significantly higher than the previous record as the church wrestles with a long-running scandal over abuse by clergy and with calls for far-reaching reform.
Germany’s Catholic bishops and lay representatives gathered on March 9 for the final meeting of a potentially groundbreaking reform assembly that has been marked by tensions between liberalizers and conservatives and is drawing increasingly open opposition from the Vatican.
A prominent Roman Catholic archbishop who faced strong criticism for his handling of the church's sexual abuse scandal in Germany said Wednesday that he has offered his resignation to Pope Francis following a "spiritual timeout".
A report on decades of clergy sexual abuse in Germany that shone an unflattering spotlight on retired Pope Benedict XVI has added to already strong pressure there for the church to reconsider Catholic rules on issues including homosexuality and women's roles.
A long-awaited report on sexual abuse in Germany's Munich diocese on Jan. 20 faulted retired Pope Benedict XVI's handling of four cases when he was archbishop in the 1970s and 1980s. The law firm that drew up the report said that Benedict strongly denies any wrongdoing.
Pope Francis has rejected the resignation of the archbishop of Hamburg, who offered to step down in March after a report faulted him for his handling of sexual abuse allegations in his previous diocese.
German investigators puzzled Thursday over how the suspect in a botched attack on a synagogue on Judaism's holiest day managed to amass at least 4 kilograms (nearly 9 pounds) of explosives and acquire four firearms, an arsenal they said he planned to use in a massacre.