With more than 147,000 newly baptised in 2006 the number of Catholics grows
by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
The bishops’ conference of Korea release statistics about the state of the Church in South Korea. They show that the total number of Catholics is up and now represents almost 10 per cent of the total population but that vocations and Sunday mass attendance are down.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Thanks to 147,000 more newly baptised in 2006, the number of South Korean Catholics now stands at close to five million or 9.6 per cent of the total population and keeps on growing, this according to statistics published by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea.

In their 2006 Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea the bishops show that 147,747 people were baptised in 2006. This brought the total number to over 4.7 million; of these, 41.6 per cent male and 52.8 per cent in their 20s to 40s for an increase of 2.2 per cent over the previous year.

The data show the clergy gained an additional 139 members for a total of just over 4,000 which confirms an average 4.8 per cent annual increase since 1960.

However, the rise might slow down since the number of seminarians dropped, showing an urgent need, as the bishops pointed out in presenting the figures, to pray for “a new priestly mass”.

Sunday mass attendance also declined. The latest data show that only 27 per cent of Catholics go to mass on a regular basis and this, the bishops insist, requires “a new evangelisation, especially among the faithful.”