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Half of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence September 28, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals.

Well, I’m shocked!  Actually, I had seen previously surveys, which I now cannot find, that showed 3/4 of Catholics don’t understand that the Blessed Sacrament really is the Body and Blood of Christ.   But it gets worse – of all religions, including atheists and agnostics (proving again that atheism is just the religion of rejecting God), Catholics scored the worst on a general religious aptitude test, with such difficult questions as “What is the first book in the Bible” and “What is the name of the Islamic Holy book?”  There were 32 questions, of which Catholics got an average of 5 questions right, for a whopping 15%. 

Some time back, I had a discussion with a local Catholic priest, wherein I asked if he would agree that most Catholics are not well formed in their Faith.  He would NOT agree with that, except very conditionally, as in, yes, perhaps a very small number of Catholics are not well formed in their Faith.   But, I’m afraid this poll, and others like it, illustrate that this belief is badly mistaken – Catholics do not know their Faith well at all. 

I came into the Church as a convert.  I went through RCIA.  I can say that as of several years after my entering the Church, I had no conception of the Real Presence, I still didn’t get the Church’s Mariology, I did not understand the concept of Purgatory, and I thought the Church taught that contraception was a sin because they historically have tried to encourage large families.  I actually was taught, in RCIA, by a priest, that one day, women would be priests in Christ’s One Church.  All of the above was completely wrong. 

Today, I know my Faith much, much better.  Most all of that knowledge has been arrived at through the Holy Spirit prompting me to individual efforts.  Some has come from a couple of priests who go into a level of depth in their homilies that is almost unheard of in the Church today.  A fair amount has come from EWTN.   But there are scads of Catholic Churches out there where formation is at the very best an afterthought, and where both the Catholic school/CCD education for children and the formation for the whole parish through homilies is incredibly basic – often times sophomoric.  It seems that many priests are either afraid to go into too much depth out of fear they will bore people, or will make them mad by declaring plainly what the Church believes, or because they are focused too much on pet social projects or because they reject whole swaths of the Faith themselves (like that pastor in Nashville).

What can we do to improve this?  How can we, as the laity, impress upon our priests the fact that knowledge is very sadly lacking and that there is a hunger for it in the Church, sometimes just an unconscious hunger, but for others it is very real?  Numbers of Catholics leave the Church because their Faith, this One, True Faith instituted by Jesus Christ, isn’t relevant to them because they have no conception of it whatsoever beyond a very bland, indistinct, indifferentist vision.  Is there a bigger crisis in the Church today than a lack of formation? 

I’m teaching a class on apologetics, hopefully helping a small group to learn more about the Faith.  Perhaps those who do have some good understanding of the Church and its Doctrine can do more, but ultimately I will pray that our pastors and especially bishops  redouble, triple their efforts at formation.  I don’t think anyone in the Church should be happy that Catholics are the most religiously ignorant sector of society.

UPDATE: You can take the quiz here.  After taking it, I’m even more depressed.  The “Real Presence” question is either/or – you have a fifty percent chance of getting it right just guessing.  I did not miss one question. 

h/t to culturewarnotes.


1. Mary - September 28, 2010

This post ties in with your last post; we as lay people don’t know our faith, and therefore cannot spread the good news.

It’s interesting, in the last 40 years we lay people have become very ‘involved’ in the mass and the church, but we know far less. We all want to be up at the altar, but don’t know what’s really going on at the altar. Perhaps if we were more knowledgeable, we wouldn’t feel worthy to be there???

2. LarryD - September 29, 2010

I got 13 right. I guessed wrong on who started the Great Awakening, and the one on whether or not public school teachers can read passages of the Bible as a work of literature.

I’m going to come up with my own quiz.

tantamergo - September 29, 2010

If I hadn’t read the article first, I would have missed the one about being able to read the Bible to students.

LarryD - October 1, 2010

I’ve posted my quiz. Check it out!

3. Religion quiz for American Catholics « A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - October 3, 2010

[…] October 3, 2010 Posted by tantamergo in General Catholic, silliness. trackback I posted recently about the seeming failure of formation/religious education for huge numbers of Catholics, who could […]

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