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23. 08. 10. - 12:00

Catholic priests lose trust, poll shows

Austrians’ trust in priests is dwindling as the Roman Catholic Church is going through its biggest post-war crisis.

Viennese research firm Karmasin found that only 19 per cent of Austrians trust parish priests, down by 20 per cent year on year.

This research result comes amid news that the number of people leaving the Roman Catholic Church is soaring.

Official figures show that 30,004 people quit their membership in the first three months of this year, up by 42 per cent compared to the same period in 2009 when more people than ever quit.

The domestic Catholic Church suffered a record annual exodus in 2009 as 53,216 people left it.

The institution’s image has suffered massively from revelations that around 1,000 people have come forward since the beginning of this year to report that they were beaten or verbally or sexually abused by clergy and staff at Catholic boarding schools and other institutions run by the Church since the end of World War Two.

Victims’ lawyers are currently negotiating with Catholic Church officials and a special commission over compensation payments.

Efforts by liberal representatives of the Church to improve its reputation suffered a dramatic blow recently when Salzburg Auxiliary Bishop Andreas Laun called the Duisburg Love Parade stampede – in which 21 people lost their lives – "God’s punishment". Laun went on to label the event a "sin" and "sickening" in an online comment.

Doctors are the professional group that Austrians trust the most (67 per cent), ahead of pilots (53 per cent) and teachers with 47 per cent.

Forty-three per cent told Karmasin – who did the study for the magazine profil – that they had trust in judges, while investment bankers were tail-lights with a paltry three per cent. Karmasin said politicians (eight per cent) and bank managers (seven per cent) did not fare much better, either.

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