In one of his recent syndicated columns (The Catholic Advance, 1/15/93), Fr. John Dietzen properly notes in reply to an inquirer that:

Transubstantiation is still "essential doctrine".  "The reality behind the word, the true presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, 'Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity', under the appearance of the Eucharistic bread and wine, IS and always will be at the heart of our Catholic Christian faith".

Less satisfactory is his explanation as to why the word "Transubstantiation" is not used as frequently today:

"It is too much of a Latin mouthful, and it is perfectly possible plainly to express what we believe about this sacrament without resorting to such (for us) unfamiliar and arcane terminology".

Of course, if the word Transubstantiation is "unfamiliar and arcane terminology" resulting in some Catholics now doubting as to whether it "is still a part of Catholic doctrine," the reason is because too many pastors and religious educators have failed miserably to instruct the faithful properly concerning a term which safeguards the authentic meaning of the awesome mystery of the Eucharist. It is a shameful blot on the recent history of post-conciliar catechesis that a 1992 poll has revealed – in the words of the editor of "Our Sunday Visitor" – that:

"only 30% of U.S. Catholics believe – as the Church teaches – that the Eucharist received is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine... In other words, people do not know what it is when they say that they are members of the Catholic Church. Nor is it just Transubstantiation. Catholics also appear equally confused about Christ's physical Resurrection, the Virgin Birth, the existence of Hell, and a growing list of other teachings."

None of the above is news for members of Catholics United for the Faith (CUF). For 25 years we have noted the radical errors and deficiencies of "modern" catechetical texts, and attempted to bring them to the attention of pastors, parents and teachers. One serious error was to ignore or deny the Church's explanation of Transubstantiation. "The most educated children in the world" did not need to have withheld from them the truth of Transubstantiation.

As the "Credo of the People of God" of Paul VI emphasized in opposition to the heresies of the Dutch Catechism:

"Christ cannot be thus present in the Sacrament (of the Eucharist) except by the change into His Body of the reality itself of the bread and the change into His Blood of the reality itself of the wine, leaving unchanged only the properties of the bread and wine which our senses perceive.
This mysterious change is very appropriately called by the Church 'Transubstantiation'. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the Blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word Whom they cannot see, and Who, without leaving Heaven, is made present before us."

Shortly after the CREDO was published, dissenter Monika Hellwig wrote in her best-selling "What are the Theologians Saying?" (Pflaum, 1970):

"It is the Pope's personal judgement that for most adult Catholics the full spiritual meaning of the Eucharist is carried in the word 'Transubstantiation'. Many theologians hope because the word is so offensive to devout Protestant Christians and because young Catholics are quite confused by it, that one day it will slide out of the official formulations into history."

Certainly, the influence on catechists of such dissenters as "Monika the Modernist" also helps explain the present appalling ignorance characterizing all too many adults and youth concerning the Mass and Eucharist. Incidentally, Hellwig's "re-thinking" the Eucharist and other aspects of Catholic doctrine (evident in more than a dozen books) has recently won her the University of Dayton's 1993 Marianist Award for her "contribution to American Catholic scholarship." (Upon reception of her award, the noted dissenter proceeded to foolishly predict the Catholic Church's future ordination of female priests).

Lastly, with regards to Fr. Dietzen's article, it has been noted that he defends the doctrine of Transubstantiation. He even refers to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) as reinforcing such teaching in its sections 1333, 1373-5. What is, however, quite peculiar in his use of the CCC is his failure to note that the Catechism insists on the dogmatic Council of Trent's formulation of doctrine on the subject including specific use of the word Transubstantiation! (See § 1376 of CCC)

About James Likoudis
James Likoudis is an expert in Catholic apologetics. He is the author of several books dealing with Catholic-Eastern Orthodox relations, including his most recent "The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy: Letters to a Greek Orthodox on the Unity of the Church." He has written many articles published by various religious papers and magazines.
He can be reached at:, or visit  Mr. James Likoudis' Homepage

Dissent from the Magisterium.... is not compatible with being a "good Catholic".
- Pope John Paul II -