Korean Woman Praying The Rosary. Photo: Uijeongbu Catholic Parish

This is the Catholic Korea that will host the 2027 WYD: a country where vocations grow, baptisms increase, and sacramental practices are strong

Statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea, host country for the next WYD in 2027.

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 08.06.2023).- Pope Francis chose the capital of South Korea as the venue for the upcoming 2027 World Youth Day. What is the Catholic Church like in Korea?

Total figures as of early 2023

The number of Korean Catholic believers, recorded in 16 dioceses across the country in 2022, is 5,949,862, which represents a 0.2% increase (11,817) compared to the previous year. According to data collected at the end of 2022, the proportion of believers to the total population of Korea (52,628,623) is 11.3%, similar to the previous year.

In comparison to 2021, the total population of the country has decreased by 104,077 people, but the number of Catholics has slightly increased. This information is derived from the «Statistics of the Korean Catholic Church 2022» yearbook, published by the Korean Episcopal Conference. The study contains updated data until December 31, 2022, obtained through surveys of parishes, associations, male and female religious congregations, educational institutions, and organizations dedicated to pastoral work.

Alongside the statistics, the «Korean Catholic Pastoral Research Institute,» an institute under the Episcopal Conference, has also published an analysis of trends regarding the presence of the Catholic Church and its institutions in Korean society.

Participation in Mass and worship activities

According to the statistics, the average number of participants in Sunday Mass in 2022 was 699,681, representing 11.8% of all the faithful. This indicates a 3% increase compared to 2021 and reflects the situation in 2022 when restrictions on attending Sunday Mass related to the pandemic were lifted. However, it is noted that in 2019, attendees constituted 18.3% of all believers.

Sacramental statistics

The number of new baptisms in 2022 is 41,384, a 13.3% increase compared to 2021 (36,540 individuals). Baptisms are classified into three types: infant, adult, and those administered to the dying. The rate of increase for adult baptisms is 9.3%, and for baptisms of the dying, it is 16%. Regarding infant baptisms, which can be an indicator of faith transmission, there was an average decrease of 7.2% from 2015 to 2019, but 2022 showed a 22.1% increase compared to 2021.

The number of confirmations, requests for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, First Confessions, and First Communions showed a slight increase compared to 2021.

Number of vocations and priests

The text also mentions that the number of priests has slightly increased, while the number of religious brothers has decreased. The total number of priests is 5,703, 77 more than the 5,626 in the previous year. There are 3 cardinals, 40 bishops, and 5,661 priests (5,515 Korean and 146 foreign). The number of priests belonging to religious orders has increased by 16 units, reaching a total of 826, while the number of priests from apostolic life communities is 149, with an increase of 2 units from the previous year. In 2022, 96 priests were ordained, 3 more than the previous year.

Catholics in general by gender and demographics

Among lay believers, the proportion is 42.9% men (2,551,589) and 57.1% women (3,398,273). The proportion of believers over 65 years old is 26.4%. The metropolitan areas (Seoul, Incheon, Suwon, Uijeongbu) are home to 55.9% (3,326,925 people) of the total believers. The number of parishes (administrative districts where priests reside) is 1,784, with an increase of 5 compared to the previous year.

The number of ecclesiastical organizations is 173, with two more female religious orders. There are 1,602 male religious in 48 religious orders and 9,974 women in 125 religious congregations. A total of 227 novices are preparing for vows, donning the religious habit for the first time.

Regarding «ad gentes» missionary activities, the number of Korean missionaries abroad is 1,007, 108 fewer than the previous year. There are 244 priests, 55 monks, and 700 nuns, while the number of lay missionaries is 8 (2 more than the previous year).

Information from FIDES.

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