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Crisis in the Church: empty masses, 4,200 parishes without a priest and 7,000 friars and nuns not paying tax

The Sunday celebration has lost a million assistants in a decade, with fewer numbers of priests and a third of the autonomous religious have stopped by Social Security over the decade.

The church is ageing over time, losing priests and devotees in Spain, a country which is ever less catholic. The number of religious people paying Social Security had reduced my more than 33% in a decade, the period when the number of parishes without a priest rose to over 4,200 and the number attending mass continues to fall.

Statistics from the Employment Ministry reveal between the first quarter of 2007 and the same period this year, the number of registered autonomous, including priests, monks, nuns and friars, has gone from 18,115 to 11,494 – a fall of 36.3%. This reduction of 6,621 contributors is lower by 1,703 people of the 8,324 current worshippers, which had fallen from 51,245 to 42,921 according to statistics from the Spanish Confederation of Religious referring to between 2007 and 2015.

This data reveals that under 25% of the religious pay Social Security when a decade ago is was 35% – the percentage under 20% (25%) is calculated from the total number of payers which manages the Episcopal Conference which increases to 57,531 after an increase of 2,120 over the decade, including those dedicating their lives to mediation in monasteries and convents.

It is not a fraud, but a consequence of ageing clergy – 75% are women, whose average age is 63 at the start of this decade after the contributory system started 36 years ago, which allowed being paid pensions over retirement age maintaining religious activities.

The evolution of the number of working priest is also downward, although slower. According to the Episcopal Conference the number of priests fell from 19,121 in 2007 to 18,813 this year, a fall of 1.7% – thanks to immigration from Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Priests, such as all religious can work after retirement age to improve their pensions, as the rest of the workers the Inter-professional Minimum Wage (707.70 €) as the self-employed by the bishoprics.

As the number of sacred falls as does the number of believers, according to the CIS for between 2007 and 2017 the percentage of Spaniards who declare themselves catholic has fallen by seven points (77.3% to 69.9%) while the number of declared atheists increased by three and a half times (from 5.3 million citizens to 12 million).