Saturday, March 13, 2021

Climate Awareness Survey in Korean Catholic Church

An article in the Catholic Times reviewed the results of a Climate Awareness Survey that was made by the Catholic Climate Action Movement of Korea on January 20th to find out the perception of believers, religious, and priests about the climate crisis and seek the church's response.

Even though all agree on the seriousness of the climate crisis, the perception of the problems are low
as are the methods and efforts of practice.
The survey was conducted by lay believers, religious and priests , each consisting of 20 questions. A total of 3,576 people (2,717 lay believers, 619 religious, and 240 priests) responded on January 21-31. 
They all sympathized with the seriousness of the climate crisis and participated to some extent in personal practice. However, awareness of the social and structural problems of the climate crisis and willingness to improve them fell short of expectations. In addition, negative and reserved evaluations were higher than positive ones both in the diocesan and the parish level.
The consciousness and practice of  believers did not make much progress from the time of the 2005 consciousness survey for the Making of Green Church conducted by the Seoul Diocese. Accordingly, the  church communities' full-scale transformation toward ecological repentance and efforts to implement it are needed.

Of the laity,  2,717 respondents, 2,685 (98.8%) responded that the current climate crisis is "very serious" (69%) or "serious" (29.8%). However, personal practices were only common activities such as carrying a shopping bag and reducing the use of plastic and disposable products. On the other hand, the reading of 'climate-related articles and interest in climate policy' were relatively low. Reasons for not practicing what they believe: "laziness" (63.7%), "Burnout and annoyance" (36.3%), and 17.8% of the respondents said they did not know what to do.

Regarding the practice in the parish, the responses:"doing well" (34.2%), "only words and not practicing" (27.6%), and "I don't know" (29.3%). On the practices in the  parish, 40.4 percent said they did not know. This reveals the need for active education and action on the parish level.

51.6% of the respondents said that they had read or knew the contents of the Encyclical Laudato si . Some respondents said they only knew the title (27.2 percent) and others said they had no idea (20.8 percent).

Members of Religious Orders in their  practice of the climate crisis was relatively high. However, the reasons why personal practice is not working well were similar, such as "laziness" (69.8%), "difficulty" (33.1%), and "Don't Know Practical Methods" (9.7%).
General personal practices appeared similar to other members, but it is noteworthy that 84.3% of the members of (Justice, Peace, Creation and Conservation)  at the congregation level were high.This shows in the religious response to the climate crisis that a shift to ecological education is needed to change consciousness.

Regarding the negative assessment of the church's environmental issues over the past two decades, the Religious Members viewed the key to responding to the climate crisis as a "change in the perception of the pastors." This is considered to be a responsibility not only for priests but also for religious as co-operators.

All 240 priests who responded to the survey agreed on the seriousness of the climate crisis, with 174 respondents trying to reduce carbon footprint in their life style. However, there is little consensus on institutional measures such as "energy efficiency for church buildings" or "urging for climate policy" in parishes.

In terms of the response in parishes, the negative responses, such as "talking but little is done" (63.7%), were overwhelmingly higher than the positive responses (17.9%), or "doing very well" (0.4%).

95.4% of the clergy know the contents of the Encyclical"Laudato si" but in reality, it was rarely used except "in lectures." About 58.8 percent, or about half, said they knew about the "special civil service textbooks."

Like the religious, in order for the church's efforts to pay off on environmental issues, "change in the perception of pastors" (42.1%) is the top priority, and "recognition of survival in all areas beyond environmental issues" (30.8%), "so that faith can lead to social practice" (27.9%).
According to the results of the survey, the Korean Catholic Church's environmental movement has a problem that despite its own efforts, it has not led to enough structural changes and has not taken root at the parish level. As a result, an integrated outlook for the church's environmental issues should be sought.

Based on the results of the survey, Catholic Climate Action plans to establish an unified approach of activities at the spiritual, daily, and policy levels. In particular, in order to cope with the climate crisis challenges facing the entire human race, it will carry out activities with the diocese, parish, and the different religious communities within the Church.

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