The number of baptisms in the Catholic church declined last year although the overall Catholic population rose slightly in South Korea, the local Catholic church said Wednesday.
According to the statistics released by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK), a total of 116,143 Catholics were baptized last year in the country, down 6.9 percent from the previous year.
However, statistics showed that South Korea's Catholic population rose slightly by 1.7 percent to about 5.65 million, which accounts for 10.7 percent of the country's total population of 52.67 million last year.
The ratio of Catholics in general has been increasing at a constant rate, maintaining the 10-percent level since 2009.
Although the number of baptisms decreased last year, it increased in 2014 for the first time since 2010, apparently affected by Pope Francis' first-ever visit to the country. A total of 124,748 Catholics were baptized in 2014, up 5 percent from the previous year.
Female Catholics outnumbered male believers at 57.9 percent, according to the CBCK statistics.
By age groups, those aged 55 to 59 made up most of the Catholic population at 9.8 percent, followed by 50 to 54 at 9.3 percent, 45 to 49 at 8.9 percent and 40-44 at 8.2 percent.
Specifically, the number of senior Catholics aged 65 or older accounted for 17 percent, an indication that the Korean Catholic population is aging over the years.
In Korea there are currently 5,129 people in the Catholic priesthood, including two cardinals and 38 bishops. Of them, 4,909 are Korean and 182 are foreign, the statistics said. Yonhap