I tweeted last week an Irish Times article reporting (amongst other things) that 62% of Irish Catholics do not believe in Transubstantiation. This prompted a wide range of responses, some of which mirrored Dawkins’ own comment on this:
“If they don’t believe in transubstantiation then they are not Roman Catholics,” Prof Dawkins said. “If they are honest they should say they are no longer Roman Catholics.”
One of the lines of feedback I received on Twitter, was that perhaps these ‘doubting’ Catholics do not fully comprehend the nuance and complexities of the Doctrine of Transubstantiation.
If this is true, then aside from who is to blame for this failing, would it not be more accurate to state that most do not in fact believe a flawed understanding of Transubstantiation?
The assertion would then have to become: Because most folk do not fully comprehend a central doctrine, they are no longer Catholic.
It’s interesting to note that just under 31 % of Catholics said they attended Mass at least once a week. I don’t feel it is a stretch to deduce this group would comprise mainly of the 26 % that do believe in Transubstantiation.
If this is the case then the questions would then be:
Do those attending Mass regularly do so because they already believe in Transubstantiation?
Do those attending Mass regularly have more chance of becoming believers in Transubstantiation?
In conclusion, I think Dawkins’ assertion that “If they don’t believe in transubstantiation then they are not Roman Catholics” is at best a gross oversimplification.