The latest Pew Research Center poll on Religious Knowledge in American results are in: 41% of American Catholics polled answered that Catholicism teaches that the bread and wine used for Communion are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus. Although 55% get it right, and there is evidence that variables such as whether or not they regularly attend church, have more education, etc seem to affect the outcome, it is still rather sad.
All of this points to a huge need for better catehesis. When such a large percentage of people who identify themselves as Catholic cannot tell you that the consecrated bread and wine are really the Body and Blood of Jesus, we have failed to communicate one of the central truths of our faith. It is no wonder Mass attendance continues to dwindle - we have somehow failed to show people why it even matters.
I will be interested in seeing the three-night televised special on the results of this survey: "God in America", set to air on PBS on October 11-13.