Every year at this time we have the Catholic Korean Statistics published and this year the 2018 picture is a continuance of the past: lowest growth rate in the last ten years, aging continues to accelerate. Both Catholic papers published the statistics and considered it in the editorials.
The total number of Catholic compared to the total population is now 11.1%, a slight increase of 0.1% from last year. This year the total increase was less than one percent which is the smallest growth rate in the last ten years. Only the dioceses of Cheju and Jeonju showed an increase from the previous year. Another sad statistic was a decrease of 43.8% from the previous year in the number of those entering the church in their 20s.
The proportion of believers by age group was the highest in the 55-59 year olds with (9.8%), followed by the 60-64 year old (8.8%), the 45-49 year old (8.7%), the 50-54 year old (8.7% ) The number of believers between the ages of 10 and 19, 6.2% of the total, and the proportion of elderly people aged 65 or older is 1,137,668, or 19.4% of all believers.
The proportion of those under 19, 30, and 40 years of age has steadily decreased since 2012. While the ratio of 50-year-olds continues to decrease continuously since 2014, the number of those in their 60s or older continues to increase every year. The proportion of elderly people aged 65 or older is 17.4% in 2016 and 18.4% in 2017, an increase of 1.0% annually, indicating that aging is continuing.
The number of parishes nationwide has increased by 13 from the previous year to 1747. The number of those baptized in the last two years has been under 100,000. This number has for the past two years continued to decrease. But in the last ten years, we see a slight increase in infant baptisms which shows that some of the young are following their tradition, however, those with no religion and those from other religious groups the numbers of those entering the church continues to decrease.
The number of marriages both the sacramental and dispensation marriages have decreased by 10.6 %. All the sacraments have decreased compared with the previous years except for the sacrament of the sick. The numbers attending Sunday Mass continue to decrease, only 18.3 % of the Catholics are attending Sunday Mass. All the different age groups in Sunday school attendance have decreased. The biggest decrease was in the high school age group with a decrease of 14.3 % from the previous year.
We did see an increase in those who have participated in religious programs, attended Cursillos and Marriage Encounter programs.
The number of clergy both religious and secular (excluding deacons) increased by 70 from the previous year. We have 5233 Korean priests and 155 foreign priests—93 newly ordained priests in 2018. From the year 1989, this is the first year that the number has gone under 100.
There are 11,737 religious in 167 congregations in Korea. The number of men religious has decreased by one and the women religious have increased by 2. Men novices number 90 and women numbered 287. Male religious have remained relatively constant since 2016 while the women continue to decrease.
The number of Koreans in mission in other countries number 1,083. They are in 81 countries: 22 in Asia, 19 in Africa, 18 in South America, 15 in Europe, 5 in Oceania and 2 in North America.