Bishop Barron on Catholics Misunderstanding the Eucharist

well I just read the most recent Pew

Forum study of religion and sometimes

they wonder why I read these things

because the news again is pretty bad and

I would say this it confirms a lot of my

own intuitions the last many years what

I'm talking about here is this recent

study of Catholic belief around the

Eucharist now any Catholic worth his

salt or her salt knows this is a central

teaching of Catholicism but Jesus is

really truly and substantially present

under the forms of bread and wine right

it's a it's a basic tenet of Catholicism

the Pew Forum study revealed that

overall seventy five percent of

Catholics mind you not not just anyone

out in the street seventy five percent

of Catholics think the Eucharist is a

nice symbol of Jesus now go to the

younger cohort forty and younger it now

goes up to eighty percent think that the

the Eucharist is a nice symbol of Jesus

well you know came right to my mind like

one of my heroes Flannery O'Connor of

course when it was proposed to her oh

the Eucharist is a lovely symbol she

said well if it's only a symbol I say

the hell with it and that's a very good

way to sum up the Catholic attitude

toward the Eucharist if it's only a

symbol why bother

I mean you and I can come up with a

symbol of Abraham Lincoln or a symbol

for that matter of Jesus you know if we

want to big deal what central to

Catholicism is the claim that Jesus is

really truly and substantially present

okay that to me should be a commonplace

affirm throughout the tradition affirmed

up to the Catechism of you know 1993

central to the Catholic faith

seventy-five percent of our own people

don't believe it as I've been saying for

a long time it represents a massive

failure and I include myself in this

what we're all guilty a massive failure

on the part of Catholic educators and

catechists evangelists teachers I don't

know any way to say it nicely but if on

this central matter of our belief and

practice there's this much deep

misunderstanding something is gone

substantially wrong now

here's the other thing and I have been

top of this recently a lot there are

those in the church today and I just

think it's so stupid that want to drive

a wedge between apologetics or

catechesis or the intellectual on the

one hand and then you know being

friendly and reaching out to people on

the other well just do that and we'll be

great and you know all its apologetics

intellectual stuff that's all beside the


yeah tell me about it how's that worked

out for us how's that little strategy

and trust me I grew up with it I know

all about it

go back to the 1960s and 70s when I was

a kid it was all about let's be nice and

let's reach out and oh don't worry about

books and ideas and all that well what

we're seeing is the bitter fruit of it

that's what happens when you utter Leigh

Brackett the apologetic the catechetical

the intellectual you get 75% of our own

people don't believe a central teaching

of our faith and so I would say again

I'm blaming myself bishops priests

everybody don't write me letters and say

oh you're picking on catechist we're all

guilty okay but it's been a massive

failure on the part of the church

carrying on its own tradition here's the

other thing too that strikes me is again

I grew up with this church and it's it's

making a comeback now my suspicion is a

lot of people might say oh well you know

who cares if people don't believe in the

real presence as long as they're

committed you know to the poor or

they're committed as social justice

isn't that what really matters well of

course that's a Content ISM as I've said

many times that's a reduction of

religion to morality which is repugnant

to Catholicism caring for the poor is an

essential aspect of the church's life

but it's not the whole of the church's

life but but more to it look at the

truly great figures in our tradition who

care for the poor go back to Vincent

DePaul come up through Mother Teresa and

Dorothy Day look at one of my heroes

Reynold Hillenbrand it was great you

know committed to social justice what do

they have in common all these people

what they have in common is a profound

understanding of and love for the

Eucharist if you line up Dorothy Day

Katharine Drexel Jacques Mary tan

Reynold Hill and branch

depaul in this room and you said hey is

this is the Eucharist a nice symbol of

Jesus they'd go into open rebellion my

point is you take away these key

doctrines and of course the Eucharist is

tied to the divinity of Jesus is tied to

the Incarnation tied to the to the

sacraments into the church and

everything else you take away the

central teachings of our church at the

doctrinal level trust me when I tell you

you will take away eventually the

commitment to the poor that will even as

as quickly as the doctrines have even us

it belongs together as a whole you know

now perhaps you've gathered by now that

I'm rather animated about this because

this to me is it deeply disturbing

statistic and it should be a wake-up

call to all of us and don't listen to

people who want to drive a wedge between

our pastoral you know friendliness to

people and catechesis that's led us

nowhere or those that want to drive a

wedge between doctrine and and the

social work of the church that brings us

nowhere so I think this should be a bit

of a wake-up call and should be a you

know a call to action on the part of

everybody in the church