The official doctrine of the Catholic Church holds that this transformation is somehow literal, rather than metaphorical as is assumed by most outside observers (and some within the Church as well). The explanations for this belief are unclear at best, but at least one of them is based on an ontological fallacy.
It is because of the literalist doctrine that Eucharist desecration is claimed to be such a despicable act, i.e. desecrating the Eucharist wafer is somehow directly harming Jesus Christ and therefore cutting to the very heart of all Christianity. This of course this falls further into the trap opened up by Aquinas's artificial redefinition of "essence" as something undetectable and therefore unchallengeable on rational grounds (not falsifiable): if we don't know what Christ's "essence" actually is (or means), how do we know that harming it harms him? If it does harm him, why doesn't eating it harm him as well? And on what basis is it assumed that any deviation from the ritual (including not eating the wafer) also harms him? In what sense is he being harmed?
Furthermore, to get just a little more scientific, how can we determine when Christ has been harmed, so we can actually demonstrate that there is some sort of wafer-Christ entanglement effect?
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- Catholic Encyclopedia:
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