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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Urgent Issues Facing Modern Korean Catholicism and Their Subtext

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2012, v.52 no.3, pp.91-118
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2012.52.3.91

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Abstract

This paper aims to analyze the features, causes, and consequences of issues that Korean Catholicism faced in and since the 1990s. Along with a rapid, continuous increase in the size of its congregation since the 1990s, the number of parish churches, priests, and religious also have grown rapidly. Even in the social welfare sector, Korean Catholicism has experienced the sharpest quantitative expansion among Korean religions. Catholicism’s pronouncements and engagement in social issues, on the other hand, have decreased. Participation of Catholic-based civil organizations in social movements has also plunged. Due to the increasing number of priests, lay believer’s participation in church activities has become relatively passive, which is indicated by ebbing religious commitments. Solidarity of the congregation has weakened and the number of tepid Catholics has grown. Church vitality has diminished markedly with the continuously declining number of the young generation and the sharp surging proportion of the aged. Moreover, with growing wealth as well as social and political influences, the Catholic Church is being criticized, from inside and outside, as a “religious power.” Korean Catholicism has mounted reform drives to deal with such problems, but to no avail. As a consequence, the possibility has risen for Catholicism to accommodate the demands of the middle class congregation,whose degree of commitment is low, and to incur negative societal criticism in place of positive appraisal of the past.

keywords
Korean Catholicism congregation increase religious conservatism religious authority Catholic social participation Catholic reform

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