A Little Clarity on Some Big Questions
The Pew Research Center, a reliable source on American attitudes about religion, found in 2019 that 43 percent of American Catholics were “unaware” of Church teaching about Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Twenty-two percent said they knew, but didn’t believe it. Only 28 percent both knew and believed the teaching. And this, as we’re often hearing these days, about what Vatican II called the “source and summit” of Christian life. (Lumen Gentium 11) No wonder that on many other matters, Catholics – even educated and publicly visible Catholics – also display a stunning casualness and ignorance about the Faith.
Take abortion. A senator from my own state of Virginia, Tim Kaine, wrote recently:
a decision by U.S. bishops to elevate issues of human sexuality, however important, above all others seems contrary to the Gospel. No reading of the life of Jesus would suggest these issues as his primary, or even secondary, concern. His towering message is about love of neighbor as oneself with a special focus on the poor, sick, hungry, marginalized.
Kaine spent time in Honduras as a young man with a Jesuit mission, so he can’t be entirely faulted (as many other Catholic politicians can be) for thinking that Jesus’ concern for others only means voting for ever-larger government spending on social “programs.” But Kaine can be tasked – again like many others – for not knowing what he’s talking about.