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Do most Roman Catholics still believe that Christ's physical body is present in the Eucharist, or do most Roman Catholics believe that it is Christ's spiritual presence in the Eucharist? It is difficult to believe that, if one took the bread during communion and physically analyzed it, that physically it would be anything other than bread. It seems that spiritual presence would be sufficient for a sacrament.

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    There is more to the Roman Catholic argument than you have stated. The concept of 'accidents' (as well as 'substance') is introduced.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 25 at 12:23
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    Your question is ambiguous: it's phrased as a sociological question yet the substance of the question is for the explanation and the motivation of the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Many Catholics don't have the right understanding of the doctrine, so it's possible that BOTH a "no" (sociological) and a "yes" (the medieval doctrine is still held unchanged today) is the answer. Commented Feb 25 at 12:47
  • @raygrant Please stop adding irrelevant tags.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 10 at 22:22
  • There's a big difference between Christ's body being present in the Eucharist and the Eucharist becoming part of Christ's body. Which does the Church teach? Commented Apr 11 at 0:21
  • "It is difficult to believe that, if one took the bread during communion and physically analyzed it, that physically it would be anything other than bread." — Does anyone claim otherwise? ¶ If I cut down a tree, run it through a lumber mill, and construct a table and chair set out of it, would anyone be surprised to find that the chair is actually made out of tree? But it really is a chair, not a tree. Should it be surprising that part of Christ's body happens to be physically composed of bread? Commented Apr 11 at 0:25

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Your question is a mixed question, I will try to answer both as much as I can:

  1. Do most Roman Catholics believe X?

Answer: only God knows what anyone believes. As far as I know there is no scientific relevant research into what “most Roman Catholics” say they believe, let alone what can be proven they believe.

I do know that such research is done in at least one country (where I live), so probably such research is done in more countries. In my country most of the population declares themselves as atheists. Most of the people who declare themselves as Roman Catholics (less than 20% of the population) do not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Only a very small minority holds beliefs that could be called something like “orthodox Roman Catholic”.

But my country is by no means statistically significant enough to base any statement about the belief of “most Roman Catholics” on.

  1. Is it difficult to believe that, if one took the bread during communion and physically analyzed it, that physically it would be anything other than bread?

Well, yes it is. It is also not what the Roman Catholic Church exactly teaches. The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t teach any explanation, but it accepts the idea of “transubstantiation” as one possible explanation. All the Church teaches is that Christ is really, yes, really physically, present in the offering of the altar, bread and wine become body and blood of Christ. How? That is one of the mysteries of our faith. What happens then, according to the theory of transubstantiation? In (very) short: the bread still has all empirical characteristics of bread, yet it has actually become the body of Christ, it has the substance of the body of Christ.

Is that hard to believe? Yes, probably. But I don’t think it is much harder to believe than the idea that God is three Persons in one God, that the second Person is fully God and fully human, and so on, and so on. And to make it even a bit more interesting, I don’t think it is much harder to believe than the idea that light is both a particle and a wave. Yet we build computers and microwave ovens based on the theory that comes from that direction. So please, leave the idea behind that truth and ease to believe have any relation at all.

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  • There was a study done in the 1980s that showed two interesting things about the doctrine of transubstantiation and Catholic belief: first, that what about three-fifths of priests in English-speaking countries believe was actually "consubstantiation", while for the laity the portion was about fifty-fifty between the two. This stuck in my mind since the laity seemed more 'orthodox' than the priesthood. Interestingly, a similar study in 2023 showed a substantial shift, though IMO the questions were not suitable for getting clear results.
    – Traildude
    Commented Feb 26 at 20:41
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    In our country we say “go to Louvain to become an atheist”. Louvain being one of the most important universities in the neighbourhood to stude theology. Academic studies are not always the best way to stay orthodox, and priests are required to do some academic studies.
    – ABM K
    Commented Feb 27 at 13:26
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Is it still prevalent among Roman Catholics to believe that Christ's physical body is present in the Eucharist?

There exists polls that suggest that the majority of Catholics no longer believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The Catholic Church admits that there is a serious crisis of faith amongst the faithful in our days. This has been enhanced by the fact of clerical sex abuse and other factors. The Church will survive this crisis as smaller, yet more profound group of faithful. The Covid-19 pandemic saw number of the faithful decline from Sunday Masses.

Transubstantiation – the idea that during Mass, the bread and wine used for Communion become the body and blood of Jesus Christ – is central to the Catholic faith. Indeed, the Catholic Church teaches that “the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’”

But a new Pew Research Center survey finds that most self-described Catholics don’t believe this core teaching. In fact, nearly seven-in-ten Catholics (69%) say they personally believe that during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine used in Communion “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Just one-third of U.S. Catholics (31%) say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.”

Just one-third of U.S. Catholics agree with their church that Eucharist is body, blood of Christ

Nevertheless I take solace in the prophetic vision of St. John Vianney the that the Church in England will one day be restored to her former splendour. I hope also equally that the the Catholic faith will be restored to its’ former splendour in other lands!

Of his gift of prophecy one instance must suffice—it is of enormous interest to us in England. On May 14th, 1854, Bishop Ullathorne called on the holy man and asked him to pray for England. The bishop of Birmingham relates that the man of God said with an accent of extraordinary conviction: "Monseigneur, I believe that the Church in England will be restored to its splendour." May this prophecy receive a full and speedy fulfilment—not least through the prayers of him who made it!

The Cure of Ars (St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney)

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