Thursday, December 5, 2013

What Our Korean Catholics Think

On the tenth anniversary of Uijeongbu becoming a diocese,  one-third of diocesan members who regularly attend Sunday Mass were surveyed. That would provide a good indication of what devout Catholics in Korea would believe and say. The geographical  make-up of the  diocese would also be a reliable mirror of what Korean Catholicism looks like.  

To the question, What would you do if a law went against the Church's teachings? Only 25.3 percent said they would follow the teachings. A clear indication, says the Catholic Times, that the teachings have not been internalized by most Christians.

To the question, Are all religions a means of salvation, and have the truth?  Out of a possible score of four, indicating a positive response, there was an average score of 3.26: a high indication of the pluralistic thinking  of Catholics. To what degree this was a sign of a relativistic view of their religious belief was not addressed.

The number of Catholics from the diocese attending Mass was about 30 percent; those attending the small Christian communities was less than 9 percent. And the numbers who are motivated to participate or see the need for them is much less. This does not augur a bright future for the small communities.

43.5 percent said that the most  important values in life are health, family and money; only 15.6 percent said religion. 33.3 percent said the passivity of Catholics was the biggest problem facing the Church today. Working for the maturity of the Catholics was the first task of the diocese as seen by the majority of the respondents. Catholics showed a high level of satisfaction with their religion but when it came to four controversial issues: capital punishment, euthanasia, abortion, and artificial contraception, 3.57 out of a possible five approved the practice of all four positions. And when a priest in a sermon speaks about societal and political issues, 4.68 out of a potential 10 were opposed.

The priest responsible for conducting the survey and for preparing the questionnaire emphasized that living as a Christian in our society is difficult.  Since  the results from the survey made in the diocese is thought to reflect the situation of the country, it will be an ongoing task of the Church to work to change the values of our Christians to harmonize more with the teachings of the Church.

The Peace Weekly editorial on the survey referred to the widening gap between life and religion among Catholics. A guilty conscience, they said, was  the biggest difficulty Catholics have with what they have been taught. Though the survey showed the high value Catholics place on the importance of their religious beliefs, it also showed that many have guilty feelings when they cannot live according to these beliefs.

In the exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (proclaiming the Gospel #19), the pope mentioned that "it is not only a question of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas to ever greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and, as it were, upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind's criteria of judgement, of determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation."

The editorial concludes that  the work of the Church is not only to teach our catechumens, bring back those who have left, but also to evangelize the Catholics who are in the pews.

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