CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 August 2018

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Concerns over greying Church and fewer baptisms in South Korea

SEOUL (UCAN): According to figures released on April 13 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, a total of 96,794 young Catholics were baptised—representing a drop of 12.9 per cent compared to 2016.
 
It is the slowest rate of growth in the last decade, leaving Church authorities concerned about a continued wind-down as parishioners, in line with Korean society as a whole, are greying at the temples.
 
The Catholic Church in South Korea has 5.813 million members accounting for 11 per cent of the country’s population as of 31 December 2017, up 1.3 percent from a year earlier, according to the newly released statistics.
 
However, the number of baptisms has steadily declined since 2008 with the exception of 2014, when Pope Francis visited the country.
 
Meanwhile, attendance at Masses nationwide has also taken a hit in recent years, with 19.4 per cent fewer people showing up regularly in 2017 compared to the previous year.
 
Among the Catholic population, 18.4 per cent are aged 65 or older, while just 6.6 per cent are aged 10 to 19 years. Ten years ago the situation was quite different with elderly people comprising 12.6 per cent of the faithful.
 
Seoul remains by far the most populous diocese, with 1,527,951 Catholics affiliated with parishes in the capital, the statistics show.
 
Suwon ranks second, with 900,764 people; followed by Incheon, with 510,923; and Daegu, with 503,551.
 
The Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea has expressed concern about these dovetailing trends as they indicate the Catholic population will continue to dwindle as fewer young people are drawn to the Church.

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