CV NEWS FEED // A 2022 survey conducted among U.S. Catholics found that the majority have not rejected the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, contrary to popular belief and to a 2022 statement from Pope Francis.
Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal, a nonprofit organization committed to living out the teachings of the Church, conducted a survey among over 1,000 American Catholics last year. The survey asked a series of questions with the goal of finding out if Americans have truly rejected Vatican II, as Pope Francis said in 2022.
“Restorationism has come to gag the Council [Vatican II]. The number of groups of ‘restorers—for example, in the United States there are many—is significant,” Pope Francis said in a meeting with editors of several Jesuit journals. “An Argentine bishop told me that he had been asked to administer a diocese that had fallen into the hands of these ‘restorers.’ They had never accepted the Council.”
According to a report by Jayd Henricks, president of the organization’s educational project “What We Need Now,” the surveyors asked the participants if they could identify a problem that was discussed at Vatican II.
Henricks said that the administrators began with this question because “religious knowledge about Catholic doctrine is sorely lacking.”
“For example, only about half of Catholics in the United States know that the Church teaches that ‘during Communion, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ. The other half of Catholics incorrectly say the church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion are just symbols of the body and blood of Christ (45%) or say they are not sure (4%),” Henricks wrote.
According to Henricks, American Catholics tended to be just as ignorant about the teachings of Vatican II, as only 17% could correctly identify an issue discussed at the council. This question divided the 1,033 participants into two groups—a smaller one termed “knowledgeable,” and a larger one known as “ignorant.”
Even though 83% could not point to an issue discussed at Vatican II, about 25% of them still claimed to be “familiar with the teachings laid out in the documents of Vatican II.” Among the smaller knowledgeable group, only 59% said that they were familiar with Vatican II’s teachings.
Henricks wrote, “Therefore, when considering whether American Catholics support Vatican II, we must begin with the fact that hardly any of them actually know what it taught.”
The survey then asked all participants if they either accepted or rejected the teachings of Vatican II. Excluding the participants that responded with “I don’t know,” 85% of all respondents said they agreed with Vatican II.
The survey’s administrators then divided the participants again, dividing them into “weekly Massgoers” and “non-Massgoers.”
When looking at the weekly Massgoers, 92% were neutral or accepting of Vatican II’s teachings, which “flatly contradicts” the idea that traditional Catholics reject Vatican II, according to Henricks.
When asked how Vatican II impacted the Church, 44% of all participants said that the council was beneficial for the Church, while only 9% of the knowledgeable group said that Vatican II harmed the Church. Henricks also reported that only 8% of knowledgeable participants said that Vatican II wasn’t an “authentic development of the Church’s teachings.”.
“This suggests, interestingly, that those who weren’t knowledgeable about Vatican II were somewhat less supportive of it. But overall, it appears that the percent of Catholics who know anything about what Vatican II taught, who also evince some discomfort with Vatican II teachings, are in the single digits,” Henricks wrote.
“What’s the takeaway from this survey? U.S. Catholics, and especially those who are practicing, have not rejected Vatican II,” Henricks concluded. “The majority of them are ignorant of it, but even then, many more maintained they support the Council’s teachings than reject them.”