In addition, 545 people made use of their “right of withdrawal” in 2021. People invoking this right initially declared their intention to leave the Church, but decided not to take the step after contacting Church officials within a three-month period.
Wednesday’s figures showed a significant fall in the number of baptisms, with 32,521 in 2020 and 44,977 in 2019. The Church said that many baptisms were postponed in 2020 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
As the country continues to battle the pandemic, a rosary initiative launched in Austria is expanding worldwide.
Austria is expected to become the first Western country to introduce mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 from February 2022 — a move that has prompted large-scale street protests.
Austria’s bishops have suggested that the obligation is permissible if used as a last resort.
Commenting on the formal departure of 6,335 people in Salzburg archdiocese in 2021, Archbishop Lackner invited Catholics leaving to the Church to talk with him.
“Pope Francis repeatedly invites us to enter into dialogue together. Ultimately, a new credibility is needed — in the Church as well as in each individual. We must continue to work on this,” he said.