WASHINGTON (July 12, 2001) -- The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: Basic Questions and Answers is now available as a 20-page booklet from the office of Publishing Services, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The pastoral statement, a Q and A for Catholics confused about the Church's teaching on the Real Presence, was prepared by the Bishops' Committee on Doctrine and approved by the full body of bishops June 15 during their Spring General meeting in Atlanta.
The document originated with the 1999 General Meeting when a large number of bishops said: "Our pastoral experience, as well as published surveys, indicates that a significant number of Catholics are confused about the Real Presence. We consider this to be a grave situation which needs to be addressed by the Body of Bishops."
The Committee on Doctrine, assisted by theologians and religious educators, prepared the statement to respond to fifteen questions which commonly arise with regard to the Real Presence. It is being offered to pastors and religious educators to assist them in their teaching responsibilities.
After an introductory section, the statement provides answers to typically asked questions about the Church's teaching. Among them:
- Why does Jesus give himself to us as food and drink?
- When the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, why do they still look and taste like bread and wine?
- Does the bread cease to be bread and the wine cease to be wine?
- Are the consecrated bread and wine "merely symbols?"
- If a believer who is conscious of having committed a mortal sin eats and drinks the consecrated bread and wine, does he or she still receive the Body and Blood of Christ?
- Why do we call the presence of Christ in the Eucharist a "mystery?"