Two Thirds of Catholics Are Protestants

What are the fundamental doctrinal beliefs that set Catholics apart from all other Christians?

The existence of God?  No.   That’s a given.

The virgin birth?  No.  Many Protestant churches accept this as fact.

Jesus rising from the dead?  No.  They all believe that.

Jesus was the son of God?  No.  They all believe that too.

If you claim to be a Catholic, it means that you believe the Virgin Mary was the Mother of God.  You believe in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.  You believe in the infallibility of the Pope when teaching on faith and morals — to do otherwise makes you a Protestant, one who protests his own beliefs.

But most importantly, you accept the central, fundamental teaching of Catholicism, which is this: during the sacrament of the Eucharist, a little piece of wafer is transformed mystically into the actual body and blood of Jesus. Not a symbol.  Not a sign.   Jesus is actually there in front of your eyes.  That’s his body, even though it looks like a biscuit, and you eat your Saviour.

This is known as the Real Presence, and believing in it is what makes you a Catholic as opposed to any general run-of-the-mill Christian.

You might have seen my previous foray into this territory when I wrote about a survey published by the Association of Catholic Priests.  The survey found that three quarters of Irish Catholics don’t accept the Pope’s position on women priests.  At the time, I suggested that this makes them Protestants, by definition, and I went further by suggesting that in my experience, most self-professed Catholics did not understand the central teaching of their church.

I didn’t have figures for that, but guess what?  Hard on the heels of the ACP report comes another survey, from the Irish Times and MRBI.

The results?

62% of Catholics think the Eucharist is just a symbol of the body and blood of Jesus.  Only a quarter of them believe the central doctrine of Catholicism: the Real Presence.  That ties in with my anecdotal experience of talking to committed Catholics.  They have no idea what the Eucharist means, and if you press them further, they also have not the slightest idea what the Immaculate Conception means.  Most of them think it has to do with the conception of Jesus when in fact it has far deeper roots in Catholic distaste for the human body.

Incidentally, we can thank an Irishman for brokering two of these insane teachings, Immaculate Conception and Papal Infalliblity.

It was Cardinal Paul Cullen who imposed the distinctively Irish Catholic life-hating puritanism on us, even as the Famine crushed the life out of our forebears.  Sweeping into a country destroyed by poverty and starvation, Cullen’s first priority was not to relieve human suffering but to establish clericalism, inventing things like Benediction and the Nine First Fridays, requiring people to call priests Father instead of Mister, and  supporting the establishment of mind-controlling cadres like the Confraternities.

Ireland suffered horribly as a result, and we still struggle to escape Cullen’s malignant influence 160 years later.

Maybe it’s about time those who call themselves Catholic admit that they have no idea what any of the mumbo-jumbo means and start to confront the big questions of existence on their own terms instead of mouthing formulas they neither understand nor believe.  And that includes the many tired, bored Catholic priests who go through the sacerdotal motions day in day out because if they didn’t, they’d have to look for a job.

It’s time for the Irish people to grow up.  If you’re a Catholic, well and good.  Practise your religion in peace.  If you don’t believe a word of it, why not admit it and find a different way to live, one that has some meaning for you?

15 thoughts on “Two Thirds of Catholics Are Protestants

  1. The Pope’s position on women priests is usually bent over on tippy toes and straight up the hole. Do not let anyone else tell you different.

  2. I remember years back having a conversation in the pub with some muppet that I used to tolerate due to, well, her being an in law of the boyfriend.. and she going on about when she has kids how she’d like the hubby to attend mass with her and the brood as, well, they’d be seen to be respectable .. upstanding sorts.. (the ole trollop)
    That when she sees the flock coming out from their get together on Sundays in their best frocks, that well she can’t help but admire them.. and wished that she too could have a muppet of a hubby who would just go along with her of a Sunday.

    I don’t think people give two fiddlers what they’re supposed to believe.. it’s all about the image.

  3. I’m rather attracted to wholesome girls in their summer frocks, regardless of what they believe or disbelieve.

  4. No news about the popes butler that is being held in a Vatican jail without access to a lawyer, as he has Vatican citizenship, he will go on trial at the Vatican courthouse but it appears that it will be held in camera. He was accused of passing secret documents to the press about vatican scandals.

  5. Who am I to argue with The (Most Rev.) Raymond Leo Burke, D.D., J.C.D. Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Former Archbishop of Saint Louis?

    Please tell me Jesus runs that website.

  6. Enthusiastic builder of churches and cathedrals was Cardinal Cullen. Must have provided a lot of work.

  7. If contemporary atheists etc. wish to emulate the job-creation programmes of the 19th century Cardinal Cullen they could embark on the construction of Humanist Halls and Temples of Humanity (proposed by Frenchman Auguste Comte) in cities and town across our small state. Just imagine jaded continental tourists driving into Ballydehob of a sultry July afternoon and asking locals for directions the the nearest secularist refreshment centre. Pardon, ou se trouve le temple laïque ici? Nous avons soif spirituel. They’d probably be directed to a pub.

  8. Not being a bible scholar myself, I do seen to remember that Jesus said and I quote ‘ Do this in memory of me’
    Would that be correct? If so, then it is obvious that he was creating a ritual for his followers to use in the future to remember him by. Now anyone who believes that Jesus is actually present in their little piece of bread or the drop of wine, needs to have a serious conversation with themselves.

  9. I sometimes wonder why people bother with all the catholic ceremonies/sacraments?

    I mean you don’t need the church if you want to get married..why bother getting married at all if you’re a would-be cheating rat-bag cretin, that would ride anything with a pulse? Not gonna happen.. go away.
    Why commit to forsaking all others, if you’re a complete dog?
    And you’d get the same type going to mass every Sunday.
    I think some people go to try and absolve themselves..

    And the other sacraments.. I think people do them for superstitous reasons.

    “Though not every individual has to receive every sacrament, the Church affirms that, for believers as a whole, the sacraments are necessary for salvation, as the modes of grace divinely instituted by Christ Himself”

    Marriage – salvation.. ha!

  10. Just two quick points on an interesting article.

    The central, fundamental beliefs of Catholicism are encapsulated perfectly in the Sermon on the Mount. There is nothing in there about a bit of wafer.

    The Immaculate Conception actually refers to the birth of Mary, absolved of original sin. Now, that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of question marks but the assertion that it is some deeprooted symptom of the church’s distaste for the human body is wholly inaccurate.

    And a further note, as I had the time:

    I am a catholic, and as you say at the end, all well and good. I found that statement a little at odds with the opening sentence of the previous paragraph though. Where you call on all those who call themselves catholics to come forward and admit we don’t know anything about all that mumbo-jumbo. Dude? How disrespectful is that? How can you possibly hope to create a dialogue with that sort of attitude? It’s a little perplexing.

  11. Peadar, the sermon on the mount encapsulates the teachings of Christianity, not the dogmas of Catholicism. There’s a difference. Just ask any Christian who isn’t a Catholic..

  12. The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5, 6 & 7) summarises how christians should behave corporally and spiritually towards other human beings. Mahatma Gandhi of pre-independence had a copy of the New Testament, the Koran and the Hindu scriptures at his bedside for many years and thought that the Sermon was a great guide to living. I’d say the Sermon (which may be a literary stitching-together of utterances from many discourses by Jesus over a period of months, that witnesses remembered and related to Matthew) is a guide to behaviour, but it is not a guide to beliefs and liturgical practices. Many christian liturgies came initially from Jewish liturgical practices, and later evolved and were formalised at church councils etc. Formulations of beliefs came with Nicea and subsequent councils. Formulations and theological expositions got complicated as European intellectual life expanded. Eggheads in church institutions often lost sight of the simple image of a baby being born in a village stable etc.

  13. “…pre-independence India…” is what I intended to say. Can’t leave out mention of India, where the hindus and muslims went for each other so terribly in 1947 and 1948. The Labour government in Britain handled the independence of India with fatal haste and lack of forward planning.

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