A November, 2010 a CARA 1 poll of U.S Catholics shows that only 23% of respondents who described themselves as Catholic regularly attend Sunday Mass. A September 2010 Pew Research poll put the number of Catholics that did not know that the bread and wine became the actual Body of Blood of Jesus Christ during the consecration at 60%.
A 2009 Pew poll on Religion and Public Life showed that the number of Catholics who believe abortion to be a critical issue, dropped form 24% (already quite low) in 2006 to 15% just 3 years later, and indicated that 47% of Catholics do not believe there should be any restrictions on abortion.
The Pew poll differentiated between those who attend Mass regularly and those who do not, but attitudes on abortion between the two groups varied little.
The “Sunday Obligation”, belief in the Real Presence, and abortion are seemingly three separate concerns. But for Catholics, all three are “non-negotiables”, and we seem to be fairing quite poorly according to the polls.
Lest we (on Guam) think that these are just stateside matters, consider the number of our own family members who attend Mass infrequently or not at all. As regards abortion, consider that - according to the abortion reports available form Guam Medical Records - at least one-half to two-thirds of abortions on Guam are performed on women who are most likely Catholic 2.
Such matters are not easy to speak of or to face. Many explanations for the dismal numbers are proffered. On the low Mass attendance it is common to hear that “this is a different generation, there are more distractions these days, etc.” Some blame the clergy sex abuse crisis.
On the lack of knowledge of the Real Presence and Catholic teaching in general one often hears that people don’t take the time to learn about their Faith. On abortion we hear a variety of things: everything from “I had no idea” (some do not believe abortions occur on Guam) to “Hey, it’s legal, what can we do.”
Solutions are hard to come by. On the low Mass attendance we are told that the the Mass has to be more interesting, more appealing, and so on. On the lack of religious literacy and catechetical knowledge we continue to experiment with this or that program.
On the abortion issue, we are told that if the Church would just relax its teaching on birth control, abortions would decrease. (Never mind that birth control is more widely available and used than ever before.)
Cardinal Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments, has a different answer: “...there is no hope for man that is not grounded in God, that would come from God, and would return everything to God as His glory. The future of humanity is in the liturgy...(and) for Catholics, between the Eucharist and the defense of human life, there is an unbreakable connection." (7/27/09)
Perhaps we should not be surprised by the correlation between the decline in reverence for the Body of Christ and the decline in respect for the body in the womb.