Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stats on Catholic dissent

Hemant Mehta posted some statistics on Catholic attitudes and beliefs in America.  The one-sentence summary is that Catholics don't really fall in line with official Catholic Church teachings.*  For example, only 21% of Catholics believe that having celibate male-only clergy is an important aspect of Catholicism, and 60% say you can be a good Catholic without adhering to church teachings on birth control.

*Not news

What struck me, were the statistics on transubstantiation.

In case you didn't catch it, 50% are aware that the Catholic Church teaches that transubstantiation is real rather than symbolic.1  But a higher percentage, 63%, believe it is real.  The 17% "unknowing believers" are Catholics who don't know the Catholic Church's teachings, but believe them anyway.

The source of the statistics, the National Catholic Reporter offers this explanation:
Perhaps this is just a classic case of source amnesia -- people believe many things that they have learned even though they are unable to recall the source of that belief.
Somehow, I feel insulted on behalf of reality.  It's like, people aren't even believing these things on the basis of some authority, they just believe them on the basis of... well, they forgot.

1. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1374 ... In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained." "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."

1381 "That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that 'cannot be apprehended by the senses,' says St. Thomas, 'but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.' ...