The number of Catholics sinks again. According to newly released statistics, the number of Catholics amounts to 5.58 million, compared to the previous year with 5.6 million being reported. Only the Diocese of Graz-Seckau is going against the trend where there are 774 more Catholics than previous years.
The press spokesman of the Archdiocese of Vienna Erich Leitenberger stated in connection with the latest data that as well as the official figures a group of "Underground Catholics" must be added. He alluded to here Catholic immigrants that come from mainly Islamic countries where they had been persecuted and thereby must keep secret their religious beliefs.
The number of regular Mass attendees was counted on a specific Sunday in 2008 as 729,879, where given Austrian religio-social surveys another group of about the same size must be added, who only once a month or only at "holy times" such as Christmas and Easter take part in Mass.
Leitenberger said that an interesting phenomenon is the "returners", the figure for which has risen from 4262 in 2007 to 5037 in 2008.
In the meantime the Muslims have become the second biggest credal group- according to an evaluation of the Interior Ministry, there are between 400,000 and 420,000- with a tendency to increase.