The Pew Research Center released a new study explaining that most Catholics in the United States believe the Eucharist is symbolic of Jesus’ body and blood, rather than believing in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ under the forms of bread and wine.
The teaching of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, according to the Catechism, is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” (CCC, 1324)
The Pew Research study, conducted in Feb. 2019, found that only 31 percent of Catholics believe the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation — the moment during the consecration at Mass where the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Here’s one breakdown of the study:
According to the image above, out of 31 percent of the United States Catholics surveyed, only 28 percent of Catholics actually know the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation, while the remaining three percent either do not know the teaching at all, or believe the Church teaches that the bread and wine are merely symbols.
However, this 31 percent believes the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation.
The image then states that of the 69 percent who believe the bread and wine are symbols, 22 percent do know the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation, but reject the Church’s teaching of the Real Presence.
Additionally, 43 percent of these non-believing Catholics think the Church teaches that the bread and wine are symbols. The other five percent are either unsure of the teaching, or did not answer at all.
The Pew Research Center also conducted an in-depth study regarding both the belief in the Real Eucharistic Presence and the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation, based on age, gender, education, and Mass attendance.
“Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread…by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood.
“This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.” (CCC, 1376)
“This should be a wake-up call to all of us in the Church”
Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said in a recent tweet that “it’s hard to describe how angry I feel” about the new Pew Research Center study. He said this “should be a wake-up call for all of us in the Church.”
He also posted a video along with the tweet, saying “it confirms a lot of my own intuitions over the last many years.”
“If it’s only a symbol, why bother? You and I can come up with a symbol of Abraham Lincoln, or for that matter, of Jesus, if we want to. Big deal!” Bishop Barron continues.
“This is a central teaching of Catholicism–that Jesus is really, truly, and substantially present under the forms of bread and wine. It’s a basic tenet of Catholicism.