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New study suggests more than two-thirds of Catholics believe the Eucharist is truly Jesus

Archbishop Samuel Aquila carries the Eucharist out of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver on June 9, 2024. / Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

CNA Staff, Jun 16, 2024 / 07:30 am (CNA).

A new study has found that 69% of Mass-going Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist — a result that calls into question the accuracy of a bombshell 2019 study from Pew Research Center, which found that only a third of Catholics believe in this core tenet of the faith. 

Vinea Research, a Catholic firm that conducted the new survey in late 2022, says the survey language it used, which was different from Pew’s, produced a figure that “more accurately represents how Catholics understand the Eucharist.”

“[U]sing language more commonly understood by Catholics, Vinea’s research indicates that many more Catholics than originally thought have an authentic understanding of the core Catholic teaching of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” the group said in a press release. 

The 2019 Pew study was widely cited as a catalyst for the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, an initiative of the U.S. bishops beginning in 2022 to spread and deepen devotion to Christ in the Eucharist. The revival will culminate with the National Eucharistic Congress, a major gathering in Indianapolis from July 17–21. 

As part of the 2022 survey, Vinea sampled 2,200 people, giving half of the respondents the original Pew wording and the other half questions the group revised to better reflect Catholic language. (The Vinea study was done independently, said Hans Plate, founder of Vinea Research, with no involvement or sponsorship by the U.S. bishops or the Eucharistic Revival.) 

The Pew study asked respondents what they think the Church teaches about the Eucharist and also what they personally believe, using the same question for both: 

“During Catholic Mass, the bread and wine… 

a. Actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ 

b. Are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ”

Vinea’s revised questions, taking into account the fact that the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Jesus as “truly present” in the Eucharist, read as follows:

  1. Which of the following best describes Catholic teaching about the bread and wine used for Communion? 

    a. Jesus Christ is truly present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist 

    b. Bread and wine are symbols of Jesus, but Jesus is not truly present 

    c. Not sure 

  2. Regardless of the official teaching of the Catholic Church, what do you personally believe about the bread and wine used for Communion? 

    a. Jesus Christ is truly present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist 

    b. Bread and wine are symbols of Jesus, but Jesus is not truly present

Plate told CNA that among their respondents who got the original Pew questions, 41% expressed belief in the Real Presence — slightly higher, but not dissimilar, to Pew’s result. However, among those who got the revised questions, 69% overall expressed belief. 

“I don’t want to compare my study to Pew’s study, but I am comparing Pew’s language to more Catholic-accurate language … wording matters significantly,” he said. 

Plate also noted that the level of belief in the Real Presence varied considerably by self-reported Mass attendance.

Among those Catholics who say they “seldom” attend Mass, only 51% expressed belief in the Real Presence. By contrast, 81% of Catholics who attend weekly and 92% who attend more than weekly said they believe. Even among Catholics who only attend a few times a year, nearly two-thirds said they believe in the Real Presence.

This study is not the first to attempt to revise the questions posed by Pew to get more a more accurate sense of Eucharistic belief; in 2023, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University conducted a study tweaking the wording of the questions and found that 64% of those surveyed “provided responses that indicate they believe in the Real Presence.” That study also found that 95% of weekly Mass attendees and 80% who attend at least once a month believe in the Real Presence.

Plate was quick to point out that Vinea’s study does not in any way refute the need for a national “Eucharistic revival.” In addition to the still-sizable portion of Catholics who don’t believe in the Real Presence, he noted that their study uncovered a Catholic population that rarely attends Mass yet believes Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. 

“That’s something that, I think, can be nurtured with a lot of the things that the Eucharistic Congress and Revival are doing,” he said. 

“That’s where the revival and further catechesis on the Eucharist is really important, to get them to want to know and love the Eucharist, and want it for themselves.”

In addition, Plate said a large majority of Catholics in the survey — 88% — who were aware of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist also said that is what they themselves believe. 

“What this tells me is that for the ‘symbol only’ people, it’s less about rejecting Church teaching and more about being misinformed,” he explained. 

“I’m drawing a conclusion on the basis of just two questions, but that seems to me to be a reasonable hypothesis that could be explored in future Eucharistic-centered research.”

Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress, told CNA that they are “grateful to Vinea for this research, which shows the reality of Catholics in the pews with greater precision.”

“Catholics do love and believe in the Real Presence and are coming out in droves to encounter Our Lord in the Eucharist as he passes through the country along the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage routes,” he said in an email to CNA. 

“Though a larger number believe in the Real Presence than previously thought, the Church is still far from 100% of Mass-going Catholics holding that core belief,” Glemkowski noted. 

“In response to this, the National Eucharistic Congress has been preparing for the last two years to prepare disciples to go out and share the good news of our Eucharistic Christ with the world. This will continue to be the core mission of the National Eucharistic Congress organization as we complete the revival and go forward from there.”

New study suggests more than two-thirds of Catholics believe the Eucharist is truly Jesus

Archbishop Samuel Aquila carries the Eucharist out of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver on June 9, 2024. / Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

CNA Staff, Jun 16, 2024 / 07:30 am (CNA).

A new study has found that 69% of Mass-going Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist — a result that calls into question the accuracy of a bombshell 2019 study from Pew Research Center, which found that only a third of Catholics believe in this core tenet of the faith. 

Vinea Research, a Catholic firm that conducted the new survey in late 2022, says the survey language it used, which was different from Pew’s, produced a figure that “more accurately represents how Catholics understand the Eucharist.”

“[U]sing language more commonly understood by Catholics, Vinea’s research indicates that many more Catholics than originally thought have an authentic understanding of the core Catholic teaching of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” the group said in a press release. 

The 2019 Pew study was widely cited as a catalyst for the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, an initiative of the U.S. bishops beginning in 2022 to spread and deepen devotion to Christ in the Eucharist. The revival will culminate with the National Eucharistic Congress, a major gathering in Indianapolis from July 17–21. 

As part of the 2022 survey, Vinea sampled 2,200 people, giving half of the respondents the original Pew wording and the other half questions the group revised to better reflect Catholic language. (The Vinea study was done independently, said Hans Plate, founder of Vinea Research, with no involvement or sponsorship by the U.S. bishops or the Eucharistic Revival.) 

The Pew study asked respondents what they think the Church teaches about the Eucharist and also what they personally believe, using the same question for both: 

“During Catholic Mass, the bread and wine… 

a. Actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ 

b. Are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ”

Vinea’s revised questions, taking into account the fact that the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Jesus as “truly present” in the Eucharist, read as follows:

  1. Which of the following best describes Catholic teaching about the bread and wine used for Communion? 

    a. Jesus Christ is truly present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist 

    b. Bread and wine are symbols of Jesus, but Jesus is not truly present 

    c. Not sure 

  2. Regardless of the official teaching of the Catholic Church, what do you personally believe about the bread and wine used for Communion? 

    a. Jesus Christ is truly present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist 

    b. Bread and wine are symbols of Jesus, but Jesus is not truly present

Plate told CNA that among their respondents who got the original Pew questions, 41% expressed belief in the Real Presence — slightly higher, but not dissimilar, to Pew’s result. However, among those who got the revised questions, 69% overall expressed belief. 

“I don’t want to compare my study to Pew’s study, but I am comparing Pew’s language to more Catholic-accurate language … wording matters significantly,” he said. 

Plate also noted that the level of belief in the Real Presence varied considerably by self-reported Mass attendance.

Among those Catholics who say they “seldom” attend Mass, only 51% expressed belief in the Real Presence. By contrast, 81% of Catholics who attend weekly and 92% who attend more than weekly said they believe. Even among Catholics who only attend a few times a year, nearly two-thirds said they believe in the Real Presence.

This study is not the first to attempt to revise the questions posed by Pew to get more a more accurate sense of Eucharistic belief; in 2023, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University conducted a study tweaking the wording of the questions and found that 64% of those surveyed “provided responses that indicate they believe in the Real Presence.” That study also found that 95% of weekly Mass attendees and 80% who attend at least once a month believe in the Real Presence.

Plate was quick to point out that Vinea’s study does not in any way refute the need for a national “Eucharistic revival.” In addition to the still-sizable portion of Catholics who don’t believe in the Real Presence, he noted that their study uncovered a Catholic population that rarely attends Mass yet believes Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. 

“That’s something that, I think, can be nurtured with a lot of the things that the Eucharistic Congress and Revival are doing,” he said. 

“That’s where the revival and further catechesis on the Eucharist is really important, to get them to want to know and love the Eucharist, and want it for themselves.”

In addition, Plate said a large majority of Catholics in the survey — 88% — who were aware of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist also said that is what they themselves believe. 

“What this tells me is that for the ‘symbol only’ people, it’s less about rejecting Church teaching and more about being misinformed,” he explained. 

“I’m drawing a conclusion on the basis of just two questions, but that seems to me to be a reasonable hypothesis that could be explored in future Eucharistic-centered research.”

Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress, told CNA that they are “grateful to Vinea for this research, which shows the reality of Catholics in the pews with greater precision.”

“Catholics do love and believe in the Real Presence and are coming out in droves to encounter Our Lord in the Eucharist as he passes through the country along the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage routes,” he said in an email to CNA. 

“Though a larger number believe in the Real Presence than previously thought, the Church is still far from 100% of Mass-going Catholics holding that core belief,” Glemkowski noted. 

“In response to this, the National Eucharistic Congress has been preparing for the last two years to prepare disciples to go out and share the good news of our Eucharistic Christ with the world. This will continue to be the core mission of the National Eucharistic Congress organization as we complete the revival and go forward from there.”

Men’s group at Ave Maria University aims to form selfless husbands and loving fathers

Young men at Ave Maria University take part in an event hosted by the St. Joseph's Men's Group, which strives to form selfless husbands, loving fathers, and emulate the group's namesake. / Credit: Ave Maria University

CNA Staff, Jun 16, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

A men’s group on the campus of Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida, is equipping young men with the tools necessary to become selfless husbands and loving fathers. The St. Joseph’s Men’s Group is made up of roughly 190 men striving to emulate the group’s namesake.

Through fellowship, presentations, and small-group discussions, these young men help one another grow and support one another in their vocations. The group is made up of two kinds of members — regular members who actively participate in the group’s community life and “fraternity” members who lead smaller, more intentional gatherings on specific topics. There are currently 12 fraternity members.

Young men at Ave Maria University take part in an event hosted by the St. Joseph's Men's Group, which strives to form selfless husbands, loving fathers, and emulate the group's namesake. Credit: Ave Maria University
Young men at Ave Maria University take part in an event hosted by the St. Joseph's Men's Group, which strives to form selfless husbands, loving fathers, and emulate the group's namesake. Credit: Ave Maria University

Joseph Cox, a recent Ave Maria graduate, founded the group in 2022. He spoke with CNA about his inspiration for creating the group and how it helped him find his own vocation — the priesthood. 

Cox shared that he knew he wanted to create a group on campus the summer before his sophomore year; however, he initially wanted the group to help young men struggling with pornography. After thinking more about it, he decided to make the group more broad so that even those who may not be Catholic could join.

“I thought of the idea of just simply starting a men’s group on campus — the St. Joseph’s Men’s Group — really with the idea of creating an environment where guys can come together with no sort of commitment but could come together and just grow in fraternity, grow in masculinity, a greater set of holiness,” Cox said.

He added: “The idea was also to bring together, to create a common ground, those at Ave that are bought into the mission and bought into the spiritual life, and those that are not bought into the mission and those that may not be Catholic or who may not practice the faith anymore.”

The 21-year-old explained that the group’s events begin with food and socializing, followed by a speaker who talks about a topic tailored to men. The attendees then break out into small groups for the last part of the event, which are led by the 12 fraternity members. Cox pointed out that most of the fraternity members are actually athletes on campus.

“These athletes are guys that are very respected by their teammates because they’re athletically gifted — they may be a captain on a team for whatever sport they play — but as well as them being athletically gifted, they also have a relationship with Christ,” he shared.

In addition to hosting events on the campus of Ave Maria, Cox partnered with the University of Miami’s men’s group that is a part of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) to have combined events a couple of times each semester on their campus. 

This past Lent, the members of the St. Joseph Men’s Group took part in the “Consecration to St. Joseph” by Father Donald Calloway, MIC, which is a 33-day consecration to the beloved saint. 

“We had a little over 200 guys that went through with the consecration,” Cox recalled. “So in addition to all the guys doing the 33-day consecration on their own, we would have a weekly meeting [with] smaller groups … and then on the 33rd day, when they would actually make their consecration to St. Joseph, we had a big event. It was a big Mass, with adoration and confession, and all the guys who had done the consecration consecrated themselves collectively as a group of guys together.”

He encourages both men and women alike to “look to the virtues of St. Joseph — his purity, his silence, his obedience.”

Young men at Ave Maria University take part in an event hosted by the St. Joseph's Men's Group, which strives to form selfless husbands, loving fathers, and emulate the group's namesake. Credit: Ave Maria University
Young men at Ave Maria University take part in an event hosted by the St. Joseph's Men's Group, which strives to form selfless husbands, loving fathers, and emulate the group's namesake. Credit: Ave Maria University

Now Cox will be heading to the seminary in three weeks and credits, in part, his involvement with the men’s group in finding his vocation. 

“I would say that what inspired me more for the priesthood was seeing guys with options,” he shared. “Meaning that guys that could be the best fathers, the best husbands, in the best jobs, and they were willing to sacrifice all of that for something that they believe is greater.”

He added that being a part of the group has given him the “desire to live out mission especially on the college campus.”

Cox explained that he originally wanted to become a FOCUS missionary after college, but when he came across the Legionaries of Christ he noticed that they were now focusing more on serving as campus chaplains for different colleges around the country. 

“So when I came to kind of this crossroad it was really could I see myself doing college ministry as an occupation with something like FOCUS or potentially as a vocation for the rest of my life with the priesthood,” Cox explained. “If anything, this group, what it’s done is given me that desire to continue the college route.”

“At the end of the day, I’ve always said if the Lord calls me out of the seminary and I don’t become a priest I go right in FOCUS. College ministry is where I want to spend my life — whether that’s with FOCUS or the priesthood, the Lord will make it known but it will be through that mission.”

Men’s group at Ave Maria University aims to form selfless husbands and loving fathers

Young men at Ave Maria University take part in an event hosted by the St. Joseph's Men's Group, which strives to form selfless husbands, loving fathers, and emulate the group's namesake. / Credit: Ave Maria University

CNA Staff, Jun 16, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

A men’s group on the campus of Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida, is equipping young men with the tools necessary to become selfless husbands and loving fathers. The St. Joseph’s Men’s Group is made up of roughly 190 men striving to emulate the group’s namesake.

Through fellowship, presentations, and small-group discussions, these young men help one another grow and support one another in their vocations. The group is made up of two kinds of members — regular members who actively participate in the group’s community life and “fraternity” members who lead smaller, more intentional gatherings on specific topics. There are currently 12 fraternity members.

Young men at Ave Maria University take part in an event hosted by the St. Joseph's Men's Group, which strives to form selfless husbands, loving fathers, and emulate the group's namesake. Credit: Ave Maria University
Young men at Ave Maria University take part in an event hosted by the St. Joseph's Men's Group, which strives to form selfless husbands, loving fathers, and emulate the group's namesake. Credit: Ave Maria University

Joseph Cox, a recent Ave Maria graduate, founded the group in 2022. He spoke with CNA about his inspiration for creating the group and how it helped him find his own vocation — the priesthood. 

Cox shared that he knew he wanted to create a group on campus the summer before his sophomore year; however, he initially wanted the group to help young men struggling with pornography. After thinking more about it, he decided to make the group more broad so that even those who may not be Catholic could join.

“I thought of the idea of just simply starting a men’s group on campus — the St. Joseph’s Men’s Group — really with the idea of creating an environment where guys can come together with no sort of commitment but could come together and just grow in fraternity, grow in masculinity, a greater set of holiness,” Cox said.

He added: “The idea was also to bring together, to create a common ground, those at Ave that are bought into the mission and bought into the spiritual life, and those that are not bought into the mission and those that may not be Catholic or who may not practice the faith anymore.”

The 21-year-old explained that the group’s events begin with food and socializing, followed by a speaker who talks about a topic tailored to men. The attendees then break out into small groups for the last part of the event, which are led by the 12 fraternity members. Cox pointed out that most of the fraternity members are actually athletes on campus.

“These athletes are guys that are very respected by their teammates because they’re athletically gifted — they may be a captain on a team for whatever sport they play — but as well as them being athletically gifted, they also have a relationship with Christ,” he shared.

In addition to hosting events on the campus of Ave Maria, Cox partnered with the University of Miami’s men’s group that is a part of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) to have combined events a couple of times each semester on their campus. 

This past Lent, the members of the St. Joseph Men’s Group took part in the “Consecration to St. Joseph” by Father Donald Calloway, MIC, which is a 33-day consecration to the beloved saint. 

“We had a little over 200 guys that went through with the consecration,” Cox recalled. “So in addition to all the guys doing the 33-day consecration on their own, we would have a weekly meeting [with] smaller groups … and then on the 33rd day, when they would actually make their consecration to St. Joseph, we had a big event. It was a big Mass, with adoration and confession, and all the guys who had done the consecration consecrated themselves collectively as a group of guys together.”

He encourages both men and women alike to “look to the virtues of St. Joseph — his purity, his silence, his obedience.”

Young men at Ave Maria University take part in an event hosted by the St. Joseph's Men's Group, which strives to form selfless husbands, loving fathers, and emulate the group's namesake. Credit: Ave Maria University
Young men at Ave Maria University take part in an event hosted by the St. Joseph's Men's Group, which strives to form selfless husbands, loving fathers, and emulate the group's namesake. Credit: Ave Maria University

Now Cox will be heading to the seminary in three weeks and credits, in part, his involvement with the men’s group in finding his vocation. 

“I would say that what inspired me more for the priesthood was seeing guys with options,” he shared. “Meaning that guys that could be the best fathers, the best husbands, in the best jobs, and they were willing to sacrifice all of that for something that they believe is greater.”

He added that being a part of the group has given him the “desire to live out mission especially on the college campus.”

Cox explained that he originally wanted to become a FOCUS missionary after college, but when he came across the Legionaries of Christ he noticed that they were now focusing more on serving as campus chaplains for different colleges around the country. 

“So when I came to kind of this crossroad it was really could I see myself doing college ministry as an occupation with something like FOCUS or potentially as a vocation for the rest of my life with the priesthood,” Cox explained. “If anything, this group, what it’s done is given me that desire to continue the college route.”

“At the end of the day, I’ve always said if the Lord calls me out of the seminary and I don’t become a priest I go right in FOCUS. College ministry is where I want to spend my life — whether that’s with FOCUS or the priesthood, the Lord will make it known but it will be through that mission.”

Al Kresta, longtime Catholic radio host, dies at 72

Al Kresta. / Credit: EWTN

CNA Staff, Jun 15, 2024 / 14:35 pm (CNA).

Al Kresta, a longtime Catholic radio host, author, and founder and president of Ave Maria Radio, died Saturday at his Michigan home after a battle with liver cancer. He was 72. 

A former evangelical Protestant who rose to prominence as a radio host before his conversion to Catholicism in 1992, Kresta’s voice was heard on hundreds of radio stations daily, including EWTN Catholic Radio, via Ave Maria’s flagship program, “Kresta in the Afternoon.” 

According to a webpage set up by Kresta’s family to provide updates, Kresta was admitted to the University of Michigan Hospital on April 29 “after a month of tests,” which culminated in a liver cancer diagnosis on May 3. 

Born in 1951 in New England and raised Catholic, Kresta’s road back to the faith of his baptism was winding. Despite his upbringing, he described himself as a “stereotypical 1960s kid” who as a young man leaned into the worldly desires of “drugs, sex, and rock ’n’ roll.” The Catholic Church “didn’t hold much appeal to me,” he told EWTN’s “The Journey Home” in 2004. 

“I was a musician and I wanted to pursue my music and a hedonistic, self-centered lifestyle,” he told the National Catholic Register in a 2000 interview. 

“In 1969 I left home and became homeless by choice. I lived on the street, slept in vacant apartments, stayed on the beach in the Florida Keys and bummed off of friends. After some hallucinogenic LSD experiences, I hitchhiked along the eastern seaboard looking for someone who could help me make sense of my hallucinations. I ended up in a New Age group.”

Later, though, through “a series of remarkable, providential occurrences,” Kresta said he became convinced that the New Age movement’s depiction of Jesus as a hippie guru was not correct. In 1974, as a student at Michigan State University, he embraced evangelical Protestantism, in large part thanks to the writings of C.S. Lewis. He leaned into his newfound faith, eventually opening a Christian bookstore and even pastoring a nondenominational church for five years. 

As a pastor, Kresta said he was sometimes tripped up by the fact that there were authoritative questions he had to answer about the Christian faith and that he realized that “the Bible alone couldn’t settle these matters.”

“I had no authority,” he admitted in a later, 2007 “Journey Home” interview.

In the early 1990s, Kresta hosted a Catholic priest on his evangelical-focused radio program as part of an episode dedicated to “Catholic answers to Catholic questions.” Kresta said he was so moved by the priest’s answers that it hit him like a ton of bricks: “My God, I’m a Catholic.” In 1992, he repented and returned to his Catholic faith; his entire family converted at the same time. 

Kresta would later say that the “intellectual integrity of the Catholic faith is unlike anything in Protestantism.”

“The Catholic faith has never disappointed me when it comes to my use of reason or intellectual coherence,” he said. 

Colleagues remember Kresta as ‘deeply thoughtful’ and ‘courageous’

EWTN President and Chief Operating Officer Doug Keck on Saturday said that Kresta’s passing was “a titanic loss not only for EWTN and Ave Maria Catholic Radio but for the entire Church." 

“As his show intro said, he always had the Bible in one hand and a copy of the New York Times in another,” Keck said. 

“He was fearless in his willingness to take on tough issues both inside and outside the Church!” he continued. “But always with a wisdom-driven, balanced approach designed to meet the listeners where they are but never leave them there.” 

“He was an inspiring figure who overcame incredible physical roadblocks to serve his God, his family, and his Church.”

Teresa Tomeo, the host of the radio show “Catholic Connection,” said she would “always remember meeting [Al] long before I started in Catholic radio.”  

“I was so impressed with his knowledge of Scripture and the faith as well as his early and courageous pro-life work,” she told CNA. “We lost a warrior on so many fronts. These are tough times but we continue the work in his honor and memory.”

Scott Hahn, meanwhile — a renowned biblical scholar, author, convert, and founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology — called Kresta “one of the most deeply thoughtful and thoroughly converted men I’ve had the privilege of knowing — and calling a good friend.” 

“He will be greatly missed by many,” Hahn said. “Requiescat in pace.”

Matthew Bunson, vice president and editorial director of EWTN News, told CNA on Saturday: “Aside from his goodness, his greatness as a father, husband, and friend, his passing will be a massive loss to the Catholic cause.” 

“He was one of the keenest observers in the Church of contemporary culture and the ecclesiastical landscape,” Bunson said. “We are intellectually poorer for his passing but even more we have lost a truly prayerful, gentle, and faithful disciple of Christ.”  

Rob Corzine, the vice president of academic programs at the St. Paul Center, told CNA that he first became acquainted with Kresta through the radio host’s “bridge group.”

“It was a room filled with about equal numbers of Protestants and Catholics who wanted to hear him explain basic Catholic doctrines once a week throughout Lent,” Corzine said.

“Al had the gift of hearing your real question, however poorly you put it or even understood it yourself, and answering that.”

At the time of meeting Kresta, Corzine was “an evangelical who had been reading my way toward the Church for the last few years.” Shortly after, Corzine was coming into full communion with the Church; in several more months Kresta was showing him the ropes of Catholic radio.

“Al is one of the many people to whom I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude,” Corzine said. “And I am only one of the thousands of whom that is true.”

Helped launch Ave Maria Communications 

In 1997, Tom Monaghan — the founder of Domino’s Pizza and also Ave Maria University in Florida — called Kresta and asked if he wanted to move to Ann Arbor to help create Ave Maria Communications. Monaghan “funded the media enterprise for years,” Kresta said in a 2013 Catholic World Report (CWR) interview. Ave Maria later became a major affiliate of EWTN (which also owns Catholic News Agency).

“There’s absolutely no doubt that Catholic radio’s principal mission has been catechesis,” Kresta told CWR.

“I think in the next generation of Catholic radio that’s going to become increasingly clear. Because the last generation was spent defending the faith and defending papal infallibility … We’ll continue to defend magisterial teaching, but I think we now have to help people distinguish [between what] we owe religious assent and what are prudential judgments.” 

In 2003, Kresta suffered with and survived a serious bout of necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection. It resulted in the loss of one leg, necessitating the use of a wheelchair.

Kresta said a year or so after the illness on “The Journey Home” that the experience helped him to learn that even in the midst of terrible suffering, “you can think on the cross of Jesus, and you can offer up that suffering.”

His Catholic faith helped him, he said, to “enter more deeply into a sense of Christ’s sufferings … through being buffeted by pain, your sense of self is firmed up and strengthened, moment by moment there’s a stronger sense of who I am before God ... Christ living in me.”

“The Catholic Church’s teaching on suffering got me through arguably what was the most severe crisis I’ve had in my life ... it was my leg, or my life. So, it was my leg. Which was a very easy decision all things considered,” he said with a laugh. 

Kresta is survived by his wife of nearly five decades, Sally, as well as his five children and many grandchildren.

This article has been corrected to reflect Al Kresta's age at the time of his passing. He was 72, not 73.

Al Kresta, longtime Catholic radio host, dies at 72

Al Kresta. / Credit: EWTN

CNA Staff, Jun 15, 2024 / 14:35 pm (CNA).

Al Kresta, a longtime Catholic radio host, author, and founder and president of Ave Maria Radio, died Saturday at his Michigan home after a battle with liver cancer. He was 72. 

A former evangelical Protestant who rose to prominence as a radio host before his conversion to Catholicism in 1992, Kresta’s voice was heard on hundreds of radio stations daily, including EWTN Catholic Radio, via Ave Maria’s flagship program, “Kresta in the Afternoon.” 

According to a webpage set up by Kresta’s family to provide updates, Kresta was admitted to the University of Michigan Hospital on April 29 “after a month of tests,” which culminated in a liver cancer diagnosis on May 3. 

Born in 1951 in New England and raised Catholic, Kresta’s road back to the faith of his baptism was winding. Despite his upbringing, he described himself as a “stereotypical 1960s kid” who as a young man leaned into the worldly desires of “drugs, sex, and rock ’n’ roll.” The Catholic Church “didn’t hold much appeal to me,” he told EWTN’s “The Journey Home” in 2004. 

“I was a musician and I wanted to pursue my music and a hedonistic, self-centered lifestyle,” he told the National Catholic Register in a 2000 interview. 

“In 1969 I left home and became homeless by choice. I lived on the street, slept in vacant apartments, stayed on the beach in the Florida Keys and bummed off of friends. After some hallucinogenic LSD experiences, I hitchhiked along the eastern seaboard looking for someone who could help me make sense of my hallucinations. I ended up in a New Age group.”

Later, though, through “a series of remarkable, providential occurrences,” Kresta said he became convinced that the New Age movement’s depiction of Jesus as a hippie guru was not correct. In 1974, as a student at Michigan State University, he embraced evangelical Protestantism, in large part thanks to the writings of C.S. Lewis. He leaned into his newfound faith, eventually opening a Christian bookstore and even pastoring a nondenominational church for five years. 

As a pastor, Kresta said he was sometimes tripped up by the fact that there were authoritative questions he had to answer about the Christian faith and that he realized that “the Bible alone couldn’t settle these matters.”

“I had no authority,” he admitted in a later, 2007 “Journey Home” interview.

In the early 1990s, Kresta hosted a Catholic priest on his evangelical-focused radio program as part of an episode dedicated to “Catholic answers to Catholic questions.” Kresta said he was so moved by the priest’s answers that it hit him like a ton of bricks: “My God, I’m a Catholic.” In 1992, he repented and returned to his Catholic faith; his entire family converted at the same time. 

Kresta would later say that the “intellectual integrity of the Catholic faith is unlike anything in Protestantism.”

“The Catholic faith has never disappointed me when it comes to my use of reason or intellectual coherence,” he said. 

Colleagues remember Kresta as ‘deeply thoughtful’ and ‘courageous’

EWTN President and Chief Operating Officer Doug Keck on Saturday said that Kresta’s passing was “a titanic loss not only for EWTN and Ave Maria Catholic Radio but for the entire Church." 

“As his show intro said, he always had the Bible in one hand and a copy of the New York Times in another,” Keck said. 

“He was fearless in his willingness to take on tough issues both inside and outside the Church!” he continued. “But always with a wisdom-driven, balanced approach designed to meet the listeners where they are but never leave them there.” 

“He was an inspiring figure who overcame incredible physical roadblocks to serve his God, his family, and his Church.”

Teresa Tomeo, the host of the radio show “Catholic Connection,” said she would “always remember meeting [Al] long before I started in Catholic radio.”  

“I was so impressed with his knowledge of Scripture and the faith as well as his early and courageous pro-life work,” she told CNA. “We lost a warrior on so many fronts. These are tough times but we continue the work in his honor and memory.”

Scott Hahn, meanwhile — a renowned biblical scholar, author, convert, and founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology — called Kresta “one of the most deeply thoughtful and thoroughly converted men I’ve had the privilege of knowing — and calling a good friend.” 

“He will be greatly missed by many,” Hahn said. “Requiescat in pace.”

Matthew Bunson, vice president and editorial director of EWTN News, told CNA on Saturday: “Aside from his goodness, his greatness as a father, husband, and friend, his passing will be a massive loss to the Catholic cause.” 

“He was one of the keenest observers in the Church of contemporary culture and the ecclesiastical landscape,” Bunson said. “We are intellectually poorer for his passing but even more we have lost a truly prayerful, gentle, and faithful disciple of Christ.”  

Rob Corzine, the vice president of academic programs at the St. Paul Center, told CNA that he first became acquainted with Kresta through the radio host’s “bridge group.”

“It was a room filled with about equal numbers of Protestants and Catholics who wanted to hear him explain basic Catholic doctrines once a week throughout Lent,” Corzine said.

“Al had the gift of hearing your real question, however poorly you put it or even understood it yourself, and answering that.”

At the time of meeting Kresta, Corzine was “an evangelical who had been reading my way toward the Church for the last few years.” Shortly after, Corzine was coming into full communion with the Church; in several more months Kresta was showing him the ropes of Catholic radio.

“Al is one of the many people to whom I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude,” Corzine said. “And I am only one of the thousands of whom that is true.”

Helped launch Ave Maria Communications 

In 1997, Tom Monaghan — the founder of Domino’s Pizza and also Ave Maria University in Florida — called Kresta and asked if he wanted to move to Ann Arbor to help create Ave Maria Communications. Monaghan “funded the media enterprise for years,” Kresta said in a 2013 Catholic World Report (CWR) interview. Ave Maria later became a major affiliate of EWTN (which also owns Catholic News Agency).

“There’s absolutely no doubt that Catholic radio’s principal mission has been catechesis,” Kresta told CWR.

“I think in the next generation of Catholic radio that’s going to become increasingly clear. Because the last generation was spent defending the faith and defending papal infallibility … We’ll continue to defend magisterial teaching, but I think we now have to help people distinguish [between what] we owe religious assent and what are prudential judgments.” 

In 2003, Kresta suffered with and survived a serious bout of necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection. It resulted in the loss of one leg, necessitating the use of a wheelchair.

Kresta said a year or so after the illness on “The Journey Home” that the experience helped him to learn that even in the midst of terrible suffering, “you can think on the cross of Jesus, and you can offer up that suffering.”

His Catholic faith helped him, he said, to “enter more deeply into a sense of Christ’s sufferings … through being buffeted by pain, your sense of self is firmed up and strengthened, moment by moment there’s a stronger sense of who I am before God ... Christ living in me.”

“The Catholic Church’s teaching on suffering got me through arguably what was the most severe crisis I’ve had in my life ... it was my leg, or my life. So, it was my leg. Which was a very easy decision all things considered,” he said with a laugh. 

Kresta is survived by his wife of nearly five decades, Sally, as well as his five children and many grandchildren.

This article has been corrected to reflect Al Kresta's age at the time of his passing. He was 72, not 73.

10 inspiring Catholic quotes about fatherhood

null / Credit: maxim ibragimov/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jun 15, 2024 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

Every Father’s Day, we recognize and give thanks for the fathers in our lives. It’s a day to honor all men who love and sacrifice for others and to remember the love each of us receives from God the Father. Whether you’re writing out a Father’s Day card or pondering the great vocation of being a father, here are 10 quotes from Catholic figures and writings about fatherhood:

Pope Francis:

“Every family needs a father — a father who shares in his family’s joy and pain, hands down wisdom to his children, and offers them firm guidance and love.” 

St. John Paul II:

“In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family.”

Pope Benedict XVI:

“God is a father who never abandons his children, a loving father who supports, helps, welcomes, forgives, saves, with a fidelity that immensely surpasses that of men, opening up to an eternal dimension.”

Pope Francis:

“A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he also knows how to correct with firmness: He is not a weak father, submissive and sentimental. The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the one who knows how to protect without sparing himself.”

G.K. Chesterton:

“God chooses ordinary men for fatherhood to accomplish his extraordinary plan.”

Father Lawrence Lovasik: 

“Fatherhood is a vocation in God’s service to be not held lightly or frivolously, but with the serious determination of serious men.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2214:

“The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents.”

St. John Paul II:

“Love for his wife as mother of their children and love for the children themselves are for the man the natural way of understanding and fulfilling his own fatherhood.”

St. Vincent de Paul:

“A man of prayer is capable of everything.” 

Servant of God Father John Hardon:

“St. Joseph is the divinely revealed model of human fatherhood.”

10 inspiring Catholic quotes about fatherhood

null / Credit: maxim ibragimov/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jun 15, 2024 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

Every Father’s Day, we recognize and give thanks for the fathers in our lives. It’s a day to honor all men who love and sacrifice for others and to remember the love each of us receives from God the Father. Whether you’re writing out a Father’s Day card or pondering the great vocation of being a father, here are 10 quotes from Catholic figures and writings about fatherhood:

Pope Francis:

“Every family needs a father — a father who shares in his family’s joy and pain, hands down wisdom to his children, and offers them firm guidance and love.” 

St. John Paul II:

“In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family.”

Pope Benedict XVI:

“God is a father who never abandons his children, a loving father who supports, helps, welcomes, forgives, saves, with a fidelity that immensely surpasses that of men, opening up to an eternal dimension.”

Pope Francis:

“A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he also knows how to correct with firmness: He is not a weak father, submissive and sentimental. The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the one who knows how to protect without sparing himself.”

G.K. Chesterton:

“God chooses ordinary men for fatherhood to accomplish his extraordinary plan.”

Father Lawrence Lovasik: 

“Fatherhood is a vocation in God’s service to be not held lightly or frivolously, but with the serious determination of serious men.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2214:

“The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents.”

St. John Paul II:

“Love for his wife as mother of their children and love for the children themselves are for the man the natural way of understanding and fulfilling his own fatherhood.”

St. Vincent de Paul:

“A man of prayer is capable of everything.” 

Servant of God Father John Hardon:

“St. Joseph is the divinely revealed model of human fatherhood.”

Priest says schismatic Spanish nuns are in state of ‘paranoia’ according to own thesis

Calle de Bailén Almudena Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madrid. / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Madrid, Spain, Jun 15, 2024 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Father Jesús Silva of the Archdiocese of Madrid explained in a video posted on his YouTube channel the reason why the schismatic Poor Clares of the Belorado Monastery are experiencing “paranoia” according to their own thesis by which the religious vows they took would not even be valid.

The Spanish nuns announced May 13 that their community “is leaving the conciliar Church to which it belonged to become part of the Catholic Church.” They complained that in recent years “contradictions, double and confusing language, ambiguity, and loopholes in clear doctrine have been coming from the chair of Peter.” These Poor Clares also claimed that “H.H. Pius XII was the last valid supreme pontiff,” thus leaving the papal office vacant since then.

According to an analysis Silva made of the Catholic Manifesto the nuns made public a month ago, the sisters, who risk looming excommunication for schism, are in a situation that, according to their own reasoning, “everything they themselves have done is invalid, because since they have been nuns under Vatican II, they are not real nuns.”

Ten of the 16 nuns who comprise the Poor Clares community of Belorado and Orduña in Spain have adhered to the referenced manifesto. Of the other six, one of them left the community “in order to not belong to this sect” and five elderly nuns have not spoken.

Silva pointed out that the nuns would have to repeat all the sacraments they received after Vatican II using the formulas and rituals of the pre-Vatican II Roman rite conferred by a priest ordained under that rite and they even “have to repeat their vows, because according to them their own vows are invalid.” 

According to the Madrid priest, “they have fallen into this paranoia in which at this point they have placed themselves outside the Catholic Church and, finally, according to them, they have found the truth” under the protection of the excommunicated bishop Pablo de Rojas.

Rebuttal of three points

Silva analyzed three of the postulates of the sedevacantist and schismatic manifesto: that the Catholic Church is the only true church, the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist, and changes made to the rite of ordination for priests and bishops.

Regarding the first question, Silva explained that unity “is already achieved in the true Catholic Church,” which doesn’t mean there’s no work to be done “so that this unity becomes broader” so that “the rest of the Christian communities that are not Catholic would join the Catholic Church. That’s called ecumenism.”

The priest refuted the nuns’ allegation that the Second Vatican Council denied the sacrificial character of the Eucharist.

“It’s true that the Church has changed, because it has that power to adapt the formulas, the forms, the language of the liturgical books to the more current mentality of the present. But she has not changed the essence. The Church has the power to change [those things], because the Church has been established by Christ to safeguard the faith and the sacraments. And of course the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist is maintained, as can be perfectly seen in the Eucharistic prayers that speak of the Eucharist as a victim of propitiation for the sins of the entire world,” the priest pointed out.

Silva added that “the Church has the power to reform the liturgical books and to change the rites for the ordination of priests, deacons, and bishops. And therefore, this reform made by John XXIII, Paul VI, the Second Vatican Council, is perfectly valid. Since they were not heretics, they did not incur in excommunication.”

Confusion in doctrinal matters

The priest of the Archdiocese of Madrid explained that a possible remote origin of the schismatic positions of the Poor Clares of Belorado can be found in that “there have been many doctrinal issues lately, quite confusing, that have made many people say: ‘Listen, you have to be a little more critical sometimes of the things that are said or how they are said, because they are not expressed well and maybe you have to qualify things.’”

However, Silva emphasized, “going from there, to deny the unity of the Church and to leave it, is a very major step.”

The priest of the Archdiocese of Madrid took the opportunity in his video to remind his viewers that “we must pray a lot for them so that they reconsider” that “the true Catholic Church is that of Christ, which is in communion with the Holy Father in the Vatican, who is currently Pope Francis, and that what has changed in its structure and in its documents is perfectly licit and perfectly valid.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Priest and martyr of communism Father Michał Rapacz beatified in Krakow

The beatification Mass of Father Michał Rapacz at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow-Łagiewniki, Poland, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. / Credit: Episkopat News

Rome Newsroom, Jun 15, 2024 / 07:35 am (CNA).

A 20th-century Polish Catholic priest killed by communist authorities was beatified on Saturday at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow-Łagiewniki, Poland.

Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of Father Michał Rapacz in January. The 41-year-old priest was shot twice by communist authorities on the night of May 10-11, 1946, after being taken from his village parish in the south of Poland to a nearby woods.

A memorial graces the spot where Father Michał Rapacz was killed by communist authorities in Płoki, Poland, on the night of May 10-11, 1946. Credit: Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kraków
A memorial graces the spot where Father Michał Rapacz was killed by communist authorities in Płoki, Poland, on the night of May 10-11, 1946. Credit: Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kraków

“From the celebration of the Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, [Rapacz] drew inner strength and energy, capable of transforming life and the world, everyday life and history,” Cardinal Marcello Semeraro said in his homily at the beatification Mass on June 15.

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro at the beatification Mass of Father Michał Rapacz at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow-Łagiewniki, Poland, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Credit: Episkopat News
Cardinal Marcello Semeraro at the beatification Mass of Father Michał Rapacz at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow-Łagiewniki, Poland, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Credit: Episkopat News

Semeraro, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, traveled from Rome to celebrate the beatification in Krakow. He pronounced the formula of beatification before a packed shrine of approximately 1,800 people, including Rapacz’s great-great niece and nephew, Karolina Basista and Michał Pietrzak.

The Mass also marked the end of a Eucharistic congress in the Archdiocese of Krakow. 

According to Semeraro, for the new blessed, “spreading love for Christ present in the consecrated bread was the only effective remedy against atheism, materialism, and all those worldviews that threaten human dignity.”

From the Eucharist, the cardinal added, Rapacz drew a love that “does not remain paralyzed in the face of hatred, violence, and everything that causes fear.”

Rapacz was recognized as a martyr, according to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, because of his refusal to leave his parish or to abandon his pastoral ministry, despite a ban on the celebration of Catholic liturgies and activities under the occupations of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

During one of his homilies, the priest, who was being harassed by communist authorities for his zealous service to parishioners, said: “Though I should fall dead, I will not stop preaching this Gospel and will not renounce my own cross.”

In his homily, Semeraro drew attention to the new blessed’s deep spirituality, including his habit of praying every evening before the tabernacle in his church with a cross and his parish directory.

“A list of parishioners became his prayer book, through which he commended to God one by one the individual families and individuals of his community,” the cardinal said.