Sunday, October 3, 2010

So Much Catechesis Needed: 41 Percent of US Catholics Still Don't Get Real Presence

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.

Just as sad is the fact that Catholics are 1.1 percent below the national overall average in overall correct answers to this survey, which consisted of questions about the most prevalent religions in America. Atheists often, frankly, scored higher. Of great concern, too, is the outcome that Hispanics score lowest overall on this test of religious literacy, showing how much work is to be done among them, as they leave predominantly Catholic homelands and come to the US, a land of religious pluralism, where many of them are proselytized by other faiths.

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.


  1. Wow! You are right! If only 55% of Catholics actually know that the Eucharist is really the Body and Blood of Jesus, we have serious work to do. Well, that's job security right?

  2. Well, yes - but it also says we need to work harder! I am really convinced that we have failed to help people discover why faith is important - why they should even care if the Eucharist is Jesus.