Recently, meetings were held to discuss the best ways of dealing with the growing number of fallen away Catholics. The enthusiastic response to the meetings was beyond expectations. More than 430 from 10 dioceses attended the bishops' evangelical seminar, and more than 1500, the Suwon diocese symposium. Both meetings revealed how seriously the Church considers the problem of the tepids. Both priests and lay people were looking for help to stop so many Catholics from leaving the Church, and also in finding the best methods to convince those who have left to return.
The desk columnist of the Catholic Times, reporting on the meetings, begins by noting that the increase in the number of Catholics has also increased the number of those leaving the Church. A 2007 survey by the Catholic Times found numerous reasons given for leaving. The reason most often cited was work and studies (42.4%); religious doubt (12.1%); the burden of confession (7.4%); conflict over religion (5.8%); disappointment with clergy and religious, and time-consuming hobbies, both (4.7%); the burden of educating children (4.3%); discord between husband and wife, and with parishioners, both (3.5%); financial burden of Church attendance (2.7%); and a miscellany of other reasons (8.9%).
The remedy for reversing the trend, the columnist says, referring to those who have studied the issue, is more pastoral care of the parishioners, especially of the newly baptized. She also noted that failure to go to confession should not be the only criterion in determining a tepid; there should also be concern for those who are weak in the faith. This could be addressed, she suggests, with renewal programs. However, even before tending to our concern for the tepid, she believes there should be an in-depth look at the way the Church functions.