"The trend is worrying and will bring about changes in the medium to long term. Nevertheless, the bishops affirm that the Church as the Body of Christ is much more than a collection of facts and figures."
The new figures, released Nov. 19, revealed that the Catholic Church lost 31,772 members in 2019 -- equivalent to 1.1% of the total membership of the Catholic Church in Switzerland.
This marked a 25% increase on the previous year, when 25,366 people left.
Researchers noted sharp differences in the departure rates of the country's 26 cantons, or member states of the Swiss Confederation.
"The cantons of Geneva, Valais, Neuchâtel and Vaud have practically no departures, a fact that can be explained by the different church tax systems. In the cantons of French-speaking Switzerland, the motive of leaving the Church in order to save taxes is not applicable," wrote Urs Winter-Pfändler, scientific project manager at the Swiss Institute for Pastoral Sociology.
He said that if the French-speaking cantons were excluded, then the average exit rate in the country would be similar to that of Germany and Austria, which have also seen rising numbers leaving the Church.