Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What U.S. Catholics Believe About Transubstantiation

Why is it important to preach that the bread and wine really becomes the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ?

According to a 2011 National Catholic Reporter survey of U.S. Catholics:

  • 46% are "knowledgeable believers" who can state the Church's teaching and believe
  • 33% are "unknowing unbelievers" who don't know the Church's teaching, and don't believe
  • 17% are "unknowing believers" who believe wrongly that the Church teaches that the bread and wine remain symbols only, yet they believe in transubstantiation
  • 4% are "knowledgeable unbelievers" who know what the Church teaches and don't care

The story says:

The typical unknowing unbeliever, a third of adult Catholics, is more likely to be a white, Vatican II or post-Vatican II Catholic who lives in the Northeast and votes Democrat or independent (but not Republican). This type seldom or never attends Mass, seldom or never prays, and says they might consider leaving the church (although they still identify themselves as Catholic).

 (How you "identify" is the master key to all of life's mysteries, apparently.)

So, according to this survey, less than half of all U.S. Catholics know what the Church teaches and believe it. Luckily, the believers at least get boosted above half on account of mistaken Catholics who nevertheless believe.

So the Bear poses a rhetorical question. After hearing the Holy Father's last two addresses on John 6, which could fairly be called the Real Presence Discourse after all, are Catholics likely to understand and believe the Church's signature teaching? Or are they likely to be confused, misled and think it of no more importance than any of Pope Francis' other (with all due respect) bland, all-purpose "walking" and "journey" homilies?

The Eucharist will be the next battleground. Too many "problems" are connected to the fear of sacrilege that properly surrounds it. It's not pastoral to send people out of the communion line, and certainly not ecumenical. After all, "A little bread and wine does no harm," as Pope Francis is reported to have told the Argentine woman who had divorced and remarried.

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