THE post-war influx of refugees from former German territories now Cornmunist-controlled into Western Germany has changed the whole religious pattern of the country completely, according to "Religious Life", a new survey of religion issued by the Government this week.
Before the war, Catholics numbered about one-third of the population in what is now the Federal Republic. They were concentrated largely in the west and south.
Today, with the refugee influx completely altering the position, Catholics number 45.2 per cent of the population against the 50.1 per cent of the Evangelical Protestant Church.
Areas which were formerly Protestant now harbour large Catholic communities and vice versa. Widespread building of new churches, schools and community centres has been going on to meet the enormous demand.
Welfare work, on the whole, has been a great deal more active. Despite much destruction, in the
period just after the war the Catholic Caritas organisation acted as a channel for the financial and material gifts sent by countless foreign churches, and those from the Pope himself. "Without these gifts," the German government has said, "thousands of Germans would have starved."
Among students, the "German Catholic Students' Union" is coordinating a great deal of activity, and there is also the "Cusanus Foundation", set up to train a future generation of Catholic leaders.
Youth is emphasised and en. couraged. The main Catholic youth movement has almost a million members, as has its Protestant counterpart, and its publications are more widely distributed than those of any other youth movement in the country.
The Kolping organisation, the Werkvolk and the Catholic Workers' Movement, ensure that the particular tradition of Catholic work in the vocational and professional fields is fostered. as is adult education and the establishment of schools and colleges which can also be attended by non-Catholics.