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Number of Catholics edges up 0.8 pct in S. Korea in 2019

All News 14:50 April 27, 2020

SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) -- The number of Catholics in South Korea rose slightly last year as the religion has experienced a slowdown in its growth in recent years, data showed Monday.

According to the data by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, 5.91 million South Koreans were registered with 16 dioceses in the country as of end 2019, up 0.8 percent, or 48,000, from a year earlier.

The on-year growth has been hovering around 1 percent for the past decade and dropped to a 0.9 percent gain in 2018. Only in 2014, when Pope Francis visited the country, the South Korean Catholic Church saw its believers increase 2.2 percent from a year ago.

Female followers accounted for 57.2 percent of the total Catholics in South Korea, outnumbering men's 42.8 percent, the data showed.

By age, 20.5 percent of the total Catholics were 65 years old or older last year, while those aged 19 or younger took up 8.5 percent.

A decade ago, the percentage of senior believers was 14.4 percent and that of teenagers was 13.2 percent.

The data also showed that there were 5,522 Catholic priests at the end of last year, including two cardinals and 40 bishops, up 92 from the previous year.

Among the clergy, those 45-49 years old accounted for 15.4 percent, followed by the group of those aged 40-44 with 14.7 percent and the 35-39 age bracket with 12.9 percent.

The percentage of priests aged 65 or older was 14 percent last year, up from 9.4 percent tallied in 2012.

There are 1,756 parishes, referring to a church with a priest in residence, in South Korea, up nine from a year earlier.

Catholics attend Mass while maintaining social distancing at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul on April 23, 2020.


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