I don’t know why they keep on doing these polls; it’s been years since they’ve shown anything new or interesting. This one, discussed in USA Today, offers the same old, same old:
The survey, a comprehensive look at the beliefs and practices of 1,442 U.S. Catholic adults, also finds that 86% say “you can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church.” Only about 30% support the “teaching authority claimed by the Vatican.”
. . .
And 40% say you can be a good Catholic without believing that in Mass, the bread and wine really become the body and blood of Christ — a core doctrine of Catholicism.
That could reflect the decline in Mass attendance. The survey finds it’s fallen from 44% attending at least once a week in 1987 to 31% in 2011, while those who attend less than monthly rose from 26% to 47%.
Okay, so why, if I find these polls so boring, do I insist on talking about this one? Because of the incidental pleasures of clumsy phrasing. In a graphic accompanying the story, we are informed that 73 percent of Catholics consider Jesus’ resurrection “very important.” Not that 73 percent think that it happened literally, or that it happened at all — merely that they consider the matter a very important one. I would be delighted to read some follow-up interviews with the 27 percent who thought the resurrection might or might not have happened, but that it would not have been especially noteworthy in any case.