The following post is one that I made on my own blog a few months back in response to some comments on another post on Catholic unity with regards to beliefs of the laity. The original comment said:
“We are unified in that there is a core set of beliefs (dogmas) that all catholics believe. There will always be people who disagree on this aspect or that one. But, our beliefs on these dogmas are resolute. Protestants, on the other hand, cannot agree on any aspect or teaching. They all claim Sola Scriptura, but that is all.”
Recently, "anonymous" had this to say on the Gerry Matatics post:
“go to 100 Catholic Churches, gather 500 people at random and ask them what are the roles of scripture, clergy, grace and the sacraments, then do the same with 100 Reformed Baptist churches and see what happens. There isn't a person reading this that does not know that the former group would be nearly homogeneous compared with the latter which would sport as many theories as a 9/11 Truther symposium.”
In response to these assertions on Catholic "unity", I am providing the following excerpts from surveys published on Catholic websites:
Catholic beliefs and practices: the challenge ahead for Australia
-Only 6.8 per cent of 20-24-year-olds attended regularly (down from 7.2 per cent in 1996) and 5.6 per cent of 25-29-year-olds (down from 7.0 per cent) attended [Mass].
-Acceptance of the virgin birth among Mass attenders ranged from 73 per cent for 18-24-year-olds to 81 per cent for those aged 56 or over.
-In the case of belief in the Eucharist truly being the Body and Blood of Christ. Only 46 per cent of 15-17-year-old Mass attenders accepted this doctrine, whereas 81 per cent of those aged over 56 did so. In between these groups the level of belief rose with age.
-Belief in God as the Holy Trinity again reflected age differences, with 51 per cent of 15-17-year olds accepting it, increasing to 78 per cent for over 56-year-olds.
Young adults’ lack of participation problem for U.S. Catholic Church, study says
-One of the main results of the new survey was to confirm and reinforce earlier findings that younger adult Catholics tend to have a looser, more tenuous relationship with the church than their older counterparts.
-The younger Catholics are less likely to accept church teachings on issues of sex and marriage or to consider the church's teaching role important in such matters, for example, and they are less likely to attend Mass regularly or to consider Mass attendance important for being a good Catholic
-Only one-fourth go to Mass on a weekly basis.
-Less than half believe that the teaching authority claimed by the Vatican is very important. A majority disagree with church teachings related to sexual and reproductive issues.
-And if a sizable number of young adults report that they do not understand their faith well enough to explain it to their own children, they have a problem, and so does the church.
The Cara Catholic Poll
-Seventy percent of Catholics believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist while 30 percent believe bread and wine are only symbols of Jesus.
Clearly all Catholics do not agree on the essential dogmas (and very clearly they don’t agree on general teachings like prohibition of birth control). A preemptive strike by a commenter on my introduction post said this:
"Are there dissneters in the Catholic Church? Sure. Does any Catholic claim we are 100% unified? No. Besides Carrie, what do you hope to accomplish? That Catholics are just as disunited as Protestants? So what?"
The answer is: parity is not good enough. Catholicism claims a superior position to Protestantism in matters of unity and certainty and yet those claims can not be backed up. The "so what, you're no better" answer does not cut it in these discussions.