Saturday, July 21, 2007

Surveys on Catholic Unity

In the comment section of Sampling Catholic Unity, a Catholic commenter made the following comment:

“We are unified in that there is a core set of beliefs (dogmas) that all catholics believe. There will always be people who disagree on this aspect or that one. But, our beliefs on these dogmas are resolute. Protestants, on the other hand, cannot agree on any aspect or teaching. They all claim Sola Scriptura, but that is all.”

In response I provided the following excerpts from surveys published on Catholic websites (see the comment section for full quotes):

Catholic beliefs and practices: the challenge ahead for Australia

-Only 6.8 per cent of 20-24-year-olds attended regularly (down from 7.2 per cent in 1996) and 5.6 per cent of 25-29-year-olds (down from 7.0 per cent) attended [Mass].

-Acceptance of the virgin birth among Mass attenders ranged from 73 per cent for 18-24-year-olds to 81 per cent for those aged 56 or over.

-In the case of belief in the Eucharist truly being the Body and Blood of Christ. Only 46 per cent of 15-17-year-old Mass attenders accepted this doctrine, whereas 81 per cent of those aged over 56 did so. In between these groups the level of belief rose with age.

-Belief in God as the Holy Trinity again reflected age differences, with 51 per cent of 15-17-year olds accepting it, increasing to 78 per cent for over 56-year-olds.

Young adults’ lack of participation problem for U.S. Catholic Church, study says

-One of the main results of the new survey was to confirm and reinforce earlier findings that younger adult Catholics tend to have a looser, more tenuous relationship with the church than their older counterparts.

-The younger Catholics are less likely to accept church teachings on issues of sex and marriage or to consider the church's teaching role important in such matters, for example, and they are less likely to attend Mass regularly or to consider Mass attendance important for being a good Catholic

-Only one-fourth go to Mass on a weekly basis.

-Less than half believe that the teaching authority claimed by the Vatican is very important. A majority disagree with church teachings related to sexual and reproductive issues.

-And if a sizable number of young adults report that they do not understand their faith well enough to explain it to their own children, they have a problem, and so does the church.

The Cara Catholic Poll

-Seventy percent of Catholics believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist while 30 percent believe bread and wine are only symbols of Jesus.

Clearly all Catholics do not agree on the essential dogmas (and very clearly they don’t agree on general teachings like prohibition of birth control). This is not unity.


kmerian said...

But one thing these surveys did show, was as the people got more mature, they believed more. Now, perhaps I was wrong in saying that we are resolute in our faith.

No, I was not wrong, there are core dogmas of Catholic belief. If you reject any of these, then I don't care what you call yourself or what church you attend on Sunday, you are not Catholic. For anyone not sure, read Dr. Ott's list:

So, throw around your surveys all you want, deny the true presence or virgin birth or the immaculate conception, and you are not Catholic.

Reginald de Piperno said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reginald de Piperno said...

Carrie -
What is your point in this post anyway? If your point is that there are many baptized Catholics who do not believe what the Church teaches...well, duh. We know that. And that has nothing to do with the far more critical issue of whether or not what the Church teaches is true: it is.

All you have shown is that there are sinful and/or ignorant Catholics. Again: duh. There are sinners everywhere. There are many, many, many Protestants who don't have a clue what they believe, nor what they as Protestants "should" believe, nor why they believe what they believe. And in the same way there are many, many, many Catholics suffering from the same affliction.

Big fat deal, if your goal is to try and tar the Catholic Church.

More to the point: many of those Catholics who don't believe what they ought to believe would gladly believe what they should, if their priests would teach them. Far from being hostile to the Catholic faith (as you would like to paint them, apparently), many of them are simply ignorant and would embrace the truth if they knew it.

Your understanding of what Catholic unity means is badly tainted by your notions of Protestant unity. A Catholic is a Catholic because he is baptized. After that comes catechesis, where he learns to live as a faithful Catholic. But he doesn't cease to be a Catholic because of ignorance. See Acts 19:1-7, where it says that there were disciples who had never even heard of the Holy Spirit...and yet they were called disciples despite the defect of the content of their faith (they couldn't believe in the Trinity, because they hadn't even heard of the Holy Spirit!!!) And see also Acts 18:24-28, where we learn of of Apollos, the content of whose faith was no less deficient, was nevertheless praised as a man of God even before Aquila straightened him out.

And sinning (by not assisting at Mass weekly) is certainly serious, but it doesn't mean that one isn't a Catholic. It means that he is a sinful Catholic. Or does Joe Methodist cease to be a Methodist because he skips a few Sundays? Poppycock. He's a sinful Methodist. Serious, yes: but it doesn't rise to the level of meaning that his profession of faith is false.

I fear that your open hostility towards the Catholic Church is blinding you to the weaknesses of the arguments that you attempt to make against her. :-(

[previous post deleted because I disliked my choice of words in one respect]

Carrie said...

The point of this post is that there is not unity amongst the beliefs of Catholics as Catholic apologists/e-pologist like to claim. These surveys prove that point.

kmerian, if you de-Catholicize all the Catholics who don't agree with every single dogma, you'll have very few people left. Besides, I could say the same thing about sola fide, and everything else for Protestants and boom, we are perfectly unified also (in the way Catholics see unity). It doesn't work that way.

Reginald, you are overreacting.

Kmerian said in a previous post that ALL Catholics believe the dogmas of the faith. Most Catholics e-pologists imply this when they declare Protestants are defective because of their many denominations (as opposed to the "unity" of the RCC). These surveys show otherwise, that is all.

BTW, you guys seem to disagree on what is or isn't a Catholic. Can we get a unified decision on whether all baptized are Catholics (despite ignorance) or do they have to assent 100% to all dogmas?

Reginald de Piperno said...

Carrie, you said:

The point of this post is that there is not unity amongst the beliefs of Catholics as Catholic apologists/e-pologist like to claim. These surveys prove that point.

First: which apologists (as opposed to which lay Catholics)? If some lay Catholic comes along and says something imprecise, I wouldn't blame him. I'd be surprised if someone who hangs his hat on the Apologist hook would be as loose in his definitions.

Second: there are two sorts of disunity. In the first, there is a disunity in which people who are obliged to hold to something but they do not. In the second, there is a disunity which is a natural conclusion of other principles.

If there is doctrinal disunity among Catholics, it is of the first sort. Catholics are simply not free to believe whatever they want when it comes to matters of faith and morals. To the extent that they disagree with the Church's teaching on these matters, they are either heretical, or ignorant, or uneducated, or some combination of these.

On the other hand, amongst Protestants the disunity that we see is an inescapable consequence of their false principle of the absolute primacy of the individual conscience.

If Joe Bob says "I believe doctrine X", but his denomination says "Doctrine X is false. We believe Y," Joe Bob is under no obligation whatsoever to say "Oh. I guess I'm wrong." In fact, if he says "No, my denomination is wrong," then he is perfectly free to either go on believing whatever the heck he wants in the congregation where he is, or he is free to move on to find some other congregation where they believe the same thing.

Disunity is an inescapable consequence of Protestantism.

On the other hand, for the Catholic, disunity is a consequence of sin and/or ignorance. The situation is broken when Catholics disagree with the Church. But when Protestants disagree with their denominational or congregational standards, the result is disunity - but it is a natural consequence of the perverse notion that one's own conscience must prevail in doctrinal or moral disputes.

The fact that some Catholics fail to believe the things that they are obliged to believe doesn't mean that they are not Catholics: as I said, that is defined by their baptism (and that, by the way, is why Protestant baptisms are accepted as valid). They are Catholics who are in need of instruction, if it is ignorance that has led to their error; or they are Catholics in need of discipline if they willfully and knowingly deny what the Church teaches.

kmerian said...

So, we are going to play word games? Yes, every validly baptised Christian is a part of the Catholic Church. Now, that does not mean that they are all GOOD Catholics or that they embrace the Catholic faith.

That means that at Baptism, they are Catholic, now if they go on to embrace heresy that is their choice.