The other day I was reminded of something that happened to me last year. A young student was struggling to fill out some college application forms. So I thought I would try to help them. I encouraged them to fill out every blank and told them, “You never know, you might get a scholarship.” Eagerly the person went to work filling out the forms. They were full of questions and finally about ten minutes into this exercise the person asked, “Should I write down what religion I am?” I immediately smiled and assured them, “Of course. It could be very good for you. Little did I know nor was I prepared for the next question. The question came, “Are Catholics Christians?”
I was mortified. This was a public school. The person had just gone through confirmation classes and was a Catholic. The question is what are students learning in religious education today and how come people do not know Catholics are Christians?
This is a perfect lead in to today’s article. Misconceptions what are they?
Bishop Fulton Sheen said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
Combine this quote with another one from Bishop Sheen, “ If you don't behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave,” The combination of these two quotes brings you the essence of what is wrong in the 21st century in the United States- perceived ignorance.
Look all around you and you too can see the signs all round us today. Look at them. We will address three of these signs in this article today.
First look at the August 8, 2019 National Catholic Reporter and an article written by Matt Pattison entitled, “Pew survey shows majority of Catholics don't believe in 'Real Presence.”
The Pew study, issued Aug. 5, showed that 69% of all self-identified Catholics said they believed the bread and wine used at Mass are not Jesus, but instead "symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ." The other 31% believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, known as transubstantiation."Most Catholics who believe that the bread and wine are symbolic do not know that the Church holds that transubstantiation occurs," said Gregory Smith, associate director of research at Pew Research Center in Washington. "Overall, 43% of Catholics believe that the bread and wine are symbolic and also that this reflects the position of the Church."Still, one in five Catholics — 22% — reject the idea of transubstantiation, even though they know about the Church's teaching," Smith said.
Clearly, the majorityof Catholics in the United States are exposing a belief that is contrary to the teachings of the Church. How can this be? Notice that the survey said self identified Catholics. This is not really a sample of Church going, regularly attending, money giving, confirmed Catholics but it is still part of a much greater problem.
Second, look at the position of US Catholics on Birth Control. According to June 26, 2018 article in Vice written by Susan Rinkunas:
In 1970, just two years after Humanae Vitae, two-thirds of Catholic women were using banned methods of birth control. By 1974, 83 percent of Catholics said they disagreed with Humanae Vitae. And, by 2008, 98 percent of Catholic women who’d had sex said they’d used a birth control method other than natural family planning, according to the National Survey of Family Growth.
Clearly, the majority of Catholics in the United States are exposing a belief that is contrary to the teachings of the Church. How can this be? Notice that the survey said self identified Catholics. This is not really a sample of Church going, regularly attending, money giving, confirmed Catholics but it is still part of a much greater problem.
Third, according to the 2014 Religious Landscape Study Catholicism has experienced a greater net loss due to religious switching than has any other religious tradition in the U.S. Overall, 13% of all U.S. adults are former Catholics – people who say they were raised in the faith, but now identify as religious “nones,” as Protestants, or with another religion. By contrast, 2% of U.S. adults are converts to Catholicism – people who now identify as Catholic after having been raised in another religion (or no religion). This means that there are 6.5 former Catholics in the U.S. for every convert to the faith. No other religious group analyzed in the 2014 Religious Landscape Study has experienced anything close to this ratio of losses to gains via religious switching.
Clearly, this large group of Catholics in the United States are exposing a belief that is contrary to the teachings of the Church. How can this be? Notice that the survey said self identified Catholics. This is not really a sample of Church going, regularly attending, money giving, confirmed Catholics but it is still part of a much greater problem.
The problem is tolerance and broad mindedness. Adopting other people’s beliefs has not helped us. Bishop Sheen said, “Broad mindedness, when it means indifference to right and wrong, eventually ends in a hatred of what is right and you must remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people”
Are we doing a good job today? What will the results of this accounting be taken? Will be be able to count on people if we do not train those people in the correct principles? Will we have vocations if we are not willing to do them ourselves? The sad truth here is the largest misconception rests not with our neighbor but with our self. We must be willing to change or we will never be able to change others.