Okay, now that CARA has provided more up-to-date statistics, presumably endorsed by the (either neutral or possibly prog-leaning) FDLC I guess we are no longer allowed to claim that that oft quoted stat about 2/3 of putative Catholics in the U.S don't believe in the Real Presence was bosh because of methodology.
I don't recall the source of the original study, (Gallup? early '90s?) but I was willing to believe those who claimed it was flawed, that it was clear that most Catholics did understand the truth of the doctrine of the Real Presence, even if they didn't necessarily understand the doctrine itself in precise theological terminology, yada, yada, yada....
Anyway, any Fr, Sr, (or more usually, Ms.) Pangloss who liked to wax poetic on how all's for the best in this best of all possible post VC II catechetical worlds, so those stats couldn't possibly be correct, why, all my Cooney-crooning parishioners understand the Real Presence -- will need to face the (cheezy, apostasy-breeding) music.
Of course, Ms Pangloss may point out that perhaps the first poll was NOT flawed, which would then prove that orthodoxy in regard to the Presence of Jesus Christ, Body and Blood, soul and divinity, in the Blessed Sacrament was on the rise! Yeah, that's it....
Liturgists discuss decline in Mass attendance
By Amy Guckeen
Catholic Herald Staff
MILWAUKEE - Only 23 percent of Catholics attend Mass every week, according to a February 2008 survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
Findings from the study, "Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice Among U.S. Catholics" and the implications of the study were discussed at the national meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, Oct. 14 - 18, which drew about 240 participants.
"We should not ignore the fact that we see the ebbing in interest of the liturgy," said Bishop Blase J. Cupich, from the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D.
An estimated 65 million Catholics live in the United States today, according to Sister of Mercy Mary Bendyna, executive director for CARA. From the survey of 1,007 self-identified Catholics, 20 percent attend Mass every week, 11 percent attend almost every week, 10 percent attend once or twice a month, and 3 percent attend more than once a week. Thirty two percent attend rarely or never.
"We've seen an erosion in the faith life of people because of that lack of practice," Bishop Cupich, a member of the U.S. bishops' ad hoc committee on liturgical translations, said in an informal discussion with participants on current liturgical issues.
The statistics force the church nationwide to ask what people are searching for in the liturgy, but the church cannot let the discussion be driven solely by people's desires, Bishop Cupich said. Respondents to the CARA survey placed higher importance on feeling the presence of God at Mass and receiving the Eucharist as opposed to the homily, music and environment.
Reasons for missing Mass ranged from 51 percent of those attending Mass at least once a month being too busy, to 48 percent of the same group citing family responsibilities. From the CARA survey, 68 percent of respondents believed they could be a good Catholic without going to Mass every Sunday and 57 percent believed that it was not a sin to skip Mass.
Bishop Cupich cited the upcoming revisions to the Roman Missal, which contains the texts used in the celebration of Mass, including the responses by the congregation, as a perfect opportunity to create enthusiasm and renewal in the church. (See related sidebar outlining coming changes.)
"How do we use this moment, this opportunity and be a teaser, inviting people?" Bishop Cupich said. "Something new is coming. Americans love that theme."
In 2001, the Vatican ruled that the translations of the Mass must more completely and strictly follow that of the original Latin. The U.S. bishops are in the process of creating the new English-translation, divided into 12 units. The earliest the Vatican could receive the final units of the translation is November 2010. The changes, while difficult for some, will call Catholics deeper into their relationship with Christ, Bishop Cupich said.
"The way the church is calling us to pray is going to deepen the lives of people," Bishop Cupich said. "We are a church always in reform. We are a church mining the depths of our tradition. This is a mine that is very deep and we should be excited about this.... We're pliable. We can stretch our lives. This is a moment for us to ask, how are we being renewed?"
Another trend noted by the CARA survey was the lack of belief in the real presence in the Eucharist. Only 57 percent of respondents said they believed that Jesus Christ was truly present in the Eucharist. [emphasis supplied]
"The mystery is a part of our lives," Bishop Cupich said. "We forget that the Eucharist is the only repeatable sacrament of initiation. It is to repeat what happens in baptism and confirmation. If people don't understand what baptism means, they won't understand what Eucharist means."