Seoul (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church in South Korea has begun to grow, after a small decline from 2010, which saw a drop in the number of new believers. According to the National Conference of Bishops, in fact, in 2014, 124 748 baptisms were celebrated: this is an increase of 5% compared to 2013. The Bishop of Daejeon, Msgr. Lazzaro You Heung-sik, told AsiaNews: "We are very happy about these numbers. It is a result of Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to Korea, a visit that has affected not only Catholics but the entire national society ".
According to statistics, the South Korean Catholic population has increased in absolute terms by 2.2%: the faithful are now 5.57 million, or 10.6% of the total population (around 52.4 million). This considering the fact that, according to the last census available, about 50% of South Koreans are self-declared atheists or non-believers.
According to Msgr. You, who is also president of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, "the days that Pope Francis shared with us in August 2014 contributed to this increase. His love for the outcast, for the families who have lost a loved one in the Sewol disaster, for the disabled and migrant workers had a deep impact on our society”.
The trend, the prelate concluded, "is increasing. According to partial data, the number of those who have applied to enter the catechumenate has also risen. We expect an increase in baptisms for the upcoming Easter ".