“Regardless of the official teaching of the Catholic Church, what do you personally believe about the bread and wine used for Communion?”
A few options shown below were given for answers.
“During Catholic Mass, the bread and wine…
1. Actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ
2. Are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ
3. No answer”
The problem with the question, the report said, is that respondents could choose both 1 and 2 and still be correct, citing the U.S. bishops’ conference, which said: “The transformed bread and wine are truly the Body and Blood of Christ and are not merely symbols.”
The Eucharist is “substance and symbol,” the CARA report said.
Mass attendance and education
Respondents in the CARA study were also surveyed on a host of other questions, including Mass attendance and where they learned about the Eucharist.
The study said that 95% of weekly Mass attendees and 80% who attend at least once a month believe in the Real Presence.
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Seventeen percent of adult Catholics attend Mass at least once a week, the report said. Before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, 24% of Catholics attended Mass weekly, it said.
Almost 20% of adult Catholics attend Mass at least once a month and 26% attend a few times a year, the report said. Thirty-five percent rarely or never attend.
Those who entered the Church as adults or served in parish ministry polled at higher levels for belief in the Real Presence. Those who attended Catholic schools at any level were more likely than those who never attended to believe in the Real Presence.
The survey also asked respondents where they learned about the Eucharist, leading to their belief or unbelief in the Real Presence.
Fifty-three percent said they learned from their parents, while 44% said they learned through sacramental preparation or religious education. Just over 40% said they learned at Mass, and 37% said they learned at Catholic school.
For those who said they learned from their parents, 67% believe in the Real Presence. Seventy-three percent of those who learned from parish programs believe, while 75% who learned their information in Catholic schools believe.