U.S. Bishops Aim to Curb Ignorance of Eucharist

Set to Vote on Document This Week

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ATLANTA, Georgia, JUNE 10, 2001 (Zenit.org).- When U.S. Catholic bishops meet here this week they hope to clear up confusion on a basic Church teaching: the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.



Polls in recent years show that only 30% of Catholics believe they are really receiving Christ´s body and blood in the Eucharist, and not symbolically, the Miami Herald said in a report today.

To spread Church teaching on the Blessed Sacrament, the bishops will vote on a statement called "The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: Basic Questions and Answers.´´

The statement notes from the outset that the Eucharist "is an inexhaustible mystery that the Church can never fully explain in words.´´

It says the language used to describe this mystery was developed by medieval theologians, such as Thomas Aquinas. They taught that "the substance of the bread and wine is changed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the substance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.´´

Its outer appearance remains as bread and wine, but, the bishops´ statement says, it is "in fact now the body and blood of Christ (at the level of substance or deepest reality).´´

The statement also discusses how Catholics should receive Communion, saying "it is preferable to receive Christ in both forms,´´ body and blood, under the species of bread and wine. Some parishes share only the consecrated Host; Christ is fully present in that form.