Not knowing the cause of a disease makes healing the disease difficult. This is the problem the Church is facing with tepid Catholics, those not going to Church for one reason or another. The number of Catholics going to Mass on any one Sunday is about 1/4 of the total; the number of tepid Catholics is slightly more at 27.6 percent. Present signs indicate that this will continue to increase. What has happened in the West will likely be the future of the Korean Church.
The Future Pastoral Institute, with the Peace Weekly and Peace Broadcasting, is studying the situation and interviewing those who have left the Church to determine what steps are necessary to get them to return. Although it's not easy to pinpoint the reasons for leaving, many of the responses put work and study (too busy) in first place, followed by doubts of faith, lack of knowledge, personal interests, and family problems.
These responses can be summarized as the difficulties of life, the culture of postmodernism, the personal scars incurred as a result of unfortunate experiences with religion, and the obligations of being a Catholic.
The Pastoral Institute believes that healing the scars of those who have left the Church would help half of them to return. Until recently, we looked for ways of convincing the tepid to return, but times have changed. Instead of telling them what they are missing, we need to listen more carefully to their concerns. If the scars they received from the Catholics are in such a prominent place, efforts to teach our Christians how to listen to their stories and to sympathize and understand their situation would see many returning to the Church.
Even though the surveys show that individual problems are the prime reason for leaving the Church, the organization of the Church and the way the parish is run are not without influence in contributing to the problem. Both have to be considered in the attempt to decrease the numbers of tepid in the Korean Church.
The reasons they became Catholics in the first place did not fulfil the needs of the person. If some became Catholic hoping to find happiness and did not find it, then it is not difficult to see why they are still searching for the happiness they expected to find in the Church, and did not.