Catholics are now 10.1 percent of the population, with an increase of baptized Catholics over the previous year. Participants to an academic meeting, which evaluated the statistics, see the figures as possibly indicating both a period of stability and a warning sign for the future- that a decline may be immanent, unless preventive measures are taken.
The group wants to focus not only on the positive but on what the statistics may tell us about a not so positive future. In the year 2000, 29 percent of Catholics regularly attended Mass; in 2008, 24 percent were attending.
One of the presenters was quoted as saying that the efforts at renewal are insufficient to keep the loss of faith from spreading. Signs of the stabilizing process: Loss of faith and secular ways of thinking are spreading, better living conditions of our priests and religious, increase of leisure time, and the weakening of the prophetic in our faith life. If we continue to neglect this situation, according to the consensus of the group, we will enter a period of decline. .
One suggested that we can no longer continue with priests at the center of our faith life. Lay people have to take their rightful place, participating fully with the priest in what is going on in the Church.
Another said we shouldn't concern ourselves with numbers but with how many Catholics are following our Lord. A layman from the Korean Catholic Cutural Center noted that the Church in past years had few possessions, was not well organized, and priests and religious were living in poverty but, paradoxically, the Church received more respect. And yet another participant thought that the communication from the established dioceses has to improve if the situation is to change.
What begins imperceptibly without being noticed often brings unexpected and disastrous results. It is like the frog in lukewarm water, enjoying the swim, raising the heat slowly, the frog will not realize the small increase in temperature and, without concern, will die in the boiling water.
Both Catholic newspapers in recent editorials mentioned that the signs of a possible decline for the Korean Church, similar to what has happened to the European Catholic community are ominously clear. The hope is that the Bishops will do something about the anticipated problem. Perhaps a few more saints would also help to show us where we have gone wrong and to point us in a new direction.