The Catholic media have examined the statistics for the past year and have seen the red light. When one looks at the figures the future does not look bright. Catholics who are devout continue to diminish.
The numbers of adults baptized in 2013 were the lowest since 1985. It went under 100,000 in 1995 with 97,079 and last year the lowest with 87,088 baptisms. The Mass attendance has continued to decrease from 1995 when it was 35 percent. Last year it was only 21.2 percent attending Mass.
The number of parishes increased by 4. There are now 1,668 parishes: 4,901 priests, of that number 170 are foreigners. The total number has increased by 113. Diocesan priests have increased by 77 and the religious by 21. There are 1,463 seminarians studying for the priesthood. This has decreased by 70 from the previous year. There are 165 religious groups in Korea, and the total number of religious is 11,737: 1,564 are men, and women number 10,173. Religious women have increased by 830. The men in preparation have decreased by 17 percent, and the women saw a 48.9 percent decrease. The numbers of those in the foreign mission have continued to increase from 554 in 2003 to 979 last year. The number of diocesan priests on the mission decreased from 94 to 82 last year. There has been in the last ten years a continual increase in the numbers of diocesan priests.
Age of the Catholics continues to increase. Catholics over the age of 60 are over one million 200 thousand. The aging of the Church is at a faster rate than in society. We also see that many parents are not passing on their religious faith to their children. The numbers of those attending Sunday school programs continues to decrease. Not only is the low birthrate responsible, but many parents are not sending their children to catechism classes.
Catholicism continues to maintain the external numbers, but examining the practice of the faith in the numbers going to confession and attending Mass; we see a different picture.
Efforts are made in the different dioceses to energize
the communities and with some success. South Korea is a small unified
country with one language and basically the same culture. One of the recent editorials mentioned the recent meeting of the bishops and their 'common pastoral directive' hoping to give life to the Sunday Masses and the reception of the Sacraments.
There is a desire to break away from emphasizing the obligation and stress more the joy that should be coming from the attendance at Mass and the reception of the Sacraments. This will also, the Catholic Times' editorial mentions, require that the priest make more of an effort to make the liturgy more inviting and a better preparation of the sermons.