Only half of American Catholics know what their own Church teaches on core principles such as the Eucharist, a survey has shown. Source: Crux.
Published yesterday by the Pew Research Centre, the new report measures Americans’ knowledge about the beliefs and traditions of the world’s major religions.
According to Pew, exactly 50 per cent of Catholics in the US correctly answered a question about Church teaching on transubstantiation – the belief that during Mass, the bread and wine become the actual flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.
“The other half of Catholics incorrectly say the Church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion are just symbols of the body and blood of Christ,” and a small percentage are not sure, the study found.
Around 34 per cent of Americans overall were aware of this teaching.
More than half of those surveyed showed knowledge of the Catholic concept of purgatory as a place of purification for souls who have died before they reach heaven. Nearly a quarter of participants said they believed purgatory was a place of damnation for evildoers.
Only 71 per cent of Catholics got the purgatory question right, which, while not a perfect score, significantly outweighs the number of Catholics who showed a correct understanding of Church teaching on the Eucharist.
The online survey ran February 4-19, during which some 10,971 people responded.
It consisted of 32 questions, including 14 on the Bible and Christianity, 13 on other world religions – four on Judaism, three on the religious composition of specific countries, two for both Islam and Hinduism, and one for both Buddhism and Sikhism. There were also two questions on atheism and agnosticism, two on the size of religious minorities in the U.S. adult population, and one about religion and the US Constitution.
The report showed that US adults are generally able to answer basic questions about the Bible and Christianity and they showed knowledge of a few facts about Islam, but they were less familiar with other world religions.
Of those who participated, Jews, atheists, agnostics and evangelical Protestants scored higher. Catholics, mainline Protestants and Mormons were roughly in the middle, while young adults and ethnic and racial minorities emerged as less knowledgeable.