Less than a third of U.S. Catholics believe Christ is really present in the Blessed Sacrament, according to polls. A three-year effort to remedy this ongoing crisis is finally underway. In tonight's In-Depth Report, Church Militant's Paul Murano looks at the confusion and hope surrounding the bishops' new initiative on the Eucharist.
Bp. Andrew Cozzens, chair, bishops' advisory group, National Eucharistic Revival: "We chose the word 'revival' on purpose. And the way I've been talking about this is it's meant to really start a fire more than it is to be a program. We really hope to affect the Church at every level."
A three-year Eucharistic Revival spearheaded by the U.S. bishops began Sunday on the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. The three-part endeavor culminates in bringing the good news of God's eucharistic presence to the world.
Kristine Christlieb, Catholic convert: "I remember the first time I participated in the feast of Corpus Christi, and there was a procession in St. Louis. ... I thought it was both beautiful and powerful."
This initiative follows a 2019 Pew Research poll confirming the widespread ignorance and lack of faith of U.S. Catholics.
Only 31% say they believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Faith.
While the poll reveals half of American Catholics don't know the Church's teaching on Christ's Real Presence, it also shows almost a quarter do know the dogma and reject it.
The catechetical program is both necessary and exciting.
Bp. Cozzens: "I can say that the bishops are really excited about this opportunity to do a national Eucharistic Revival."
Its success, however, requires knowing the causes of the spiritual blindness in order to counteract them.
Observers note three major contributing factors: 1) the philosophy of materialism, 2) the loss of a sense of the supernatural and 3) woeful catechesis.
Through the contributions of men like Darwin, Marx and Freud, the philosophy of materialism — that all reality, including ourselves, consists only of matter — has become part of the cultural ethos.
Secondly, post-World War II opulence and the sexual revolution led to a loss of the sense of the supernatural in many. And this includes a loss of the sense of sin.
And thirdly, inept catechesis followed the new secular materialism.
William Mahoney, Ph.D., Scripture scholar:
In the last 40 years or so, catechesis has been absolutely abysmal. So, of course, there's a loss of faith in the Eucharist. Lex orandi, Lex credendi — the law of worship is the law of belief. So the Liturgy has to reflect what we actually believe. Talking about it is just one part of it. The other part is to actually do it.
The confusion is compounded by bishops who allow pro-abortion Catholic politicians to receive Holy Communion with no consequence.
It's laudable the bishops are attempting to reignite the faith in Christ's Real Presence. But unless they take action to protect and reverence the Eucharist, their words may fall on deaf ears.
In July 2024, a national Eucharistic Congress is scheduled for Indianapolis — the first of its kind since 1975.