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New study says 69 per cent of Massgoers believe in Real Presence

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Eucharist Real Presence - The catholic Weekly
Dominican Father Peter Martyr Yungwirth carries the monstrance as pilgrims journeying through the Archdiocese of New York on the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s Seton (East) Route process through Central Park in New York City 25 May, 2024. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

A new study suggests that Catholic belief in the Real Presence may be higher than previous data indicated — but measuring that belief accurately remains a tricky task for researchers.

Regular Mass attendance, however, has emerged as a key factor in determining an individual’s belief in the Real Presence.

On 3 June, Vinea Research, a Maryland-based market research firm that focuses on the Catholic Church in the US, released “Do Catholics Truly Believe in the Real Presence?” — which concluded that 69 per cent of Mass-going Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Higher levels of belief correlated with more frequent Mass attendance, Vinea found.

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The report revisited a landmark 2019 survey by Pew Research that found only 31 per cent of Catholics in the US believed that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.”

Pew reported at the time that among Catholics attending Mass at least once a week, 63 per cent believed in transubstantiation — the theological term used to describe the change of the Eucharistic bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ — but another 37 per cent believed “the bread and wine are symbols.”

Vinea founder and president Hans Plate told OSV News that Pew’s survey wording was problematic. Gregory A Smith, associate director of research at Pew, said his firm’s question phrasing “has a number of strengths,” including neutrality.

Both Plate and Smith cautioned their studies are not directly comparable due to methodological differences.

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