From October 1 to 15, 2014, the Catholic Pastoral Institute of Korea (CPIK, Director: Most Rev. Peter Kang U-il) conducted a survey on the “Challenges of Catholic Church in Korea after Pope Francis’ Apostolic Visit to Korea.” The result was presented to the Korean bishops on the first day of the 2014 Autumn General Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, on October 27, 2014. The survey was meant to offer the Korean bishops materials which can be guidelines for their deliberation on the many challenges of the Catholic Church in Korea.
The questionnaire consists of the following six questions:
- When was the most touching moment for you during the Pope’s apostolic visit?
- What were the most impressive words in the Pope’s addresses and homilies?
- What comes to your mind first when you think about Pope Francis?
- What is the main theme for the renewal of the Church in Korea?
- What should the faithful do to renew themselves?
- What are the tasks of the Church in Korea for her renewal and evangelization ad intra?
Respondents could give multiple answers to such questions at their own discretion.
The responses to the questionnaire were received via the website of the CBCK, email, and SNS. The total number of respondents was 680.
44% of the respondents via e-mail replied that they were deeply touched by Pope Francis’ unreserved attitude towards people. On the other hand, 51.9% of the respondents via the website of the CBCK said that they were profoundly moved when they saw the Pope offering his sincere consolation to the bereaved families of the Sewol ferry disaster.
42.2% of the email respondents said that they were overwhelmingly impressed by the address of Pope Francis urging the Church “to be guardians of memory and to be guardians of hope as a poor Church for the poor” when he met with the bishops of Korea. On the other hand, 51.9% of the respondents via the website of the CBCK said that they were deeply impressed by the words of Pope Francis who asserted that “where human suffering is involved, you can’t be neutral.” He made this statement at the in-flight press conference during the flight from Korea to Rome.
To the question, “What comes to your mind first when you think about Pope Francis?” most website and email respondents chose the words, “sympathy and communication.”
To the question, “What is the main theme for the renewal of the Church in Korea?” many respondents chose “a poor Church for the poor” as the best answer (30.3% and 35.9% via e-mail and website respectively). It was followed by “the Church living the joy of the Gospel” and “the Church realizing justice and peace in the world.”
The answers to the question, “What should the faithful do to renew themselves?” were worth special attention. Most respondents replied that they want a bishop who is more open to dialogue and communication, and who takes the initiative in practicing social justice. On the other hand, they asked the priests to stop asserting ‘self-righteousness and authoritarianism’. They also asked religious to pray more and deepen their spiritual life and to dismiss their narrow-minded and one-sided attitudes. In regard to the lay people, the respondents said that the faithful do not take enough time for prayer and spirituality, while pointing out that sectarian and divisive behavior of the lay people must be overcome.
In regard to the question, “What are the tasks of the Church in Korea for her renewal and evangelization ad intra?” most respondents said that “promoting an ecclesiastical ambiance in favor of the poor” must be the top priority
The CPIK summarized the results of the survey as follows:
- Regarding the Church’s social engagement, she needs to engage in social issues in a more active manner, resolving social conflicts in the light of evangelization as well as promoting evangelical discernment and the social teachings of the Church.
- Regarding the Catholics in Korea, three tasks were pointed out: change in the ecclesiastical leadership; resolve to do good for our neighbours starting from even small things; institutional support and education for the on-going formation of priestly leadership.
- Regarding “a poor Church for the poor”, three tasks were pointed out: improvement of the modus vivendi of the priests; continual encounter and solidarity with the poor; establishment of a community structure for the poor, so that they can experience their full membership of the Church.
- Regarding “the Church living the joy of the Gospel”, three tasks were pointed out: promotion of the ecclesiastical ambiance for the flavor of the Word; development of ongoing educational program for the lay people; revitalization of the Small Christian Communities.