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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

It's Just a Cracker

From the Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick [It's a scandal!].
A senior New Brunswick Roman Catholic priest is demanding the Prime Minister's Office explain what happened to the sacramental communion wafer Stephen Harper was given at Roméo LeBlanc's funeral mass.

During communion at the solemn and dignified service held last Friday in Memramcook for the former governor general, the prime minister slipped the thin wafer that Catholics call "the host" into his jacket pocket.

In Catholic understanding, the host - once consecrated by a priest for the Eucharist - becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is crucial that the small wafer be consumed when it is received.

Monsignor Brian Henneberry, vicar general and chancellor in the Diocese of Saint John, wants to know whether the prime minister consumed the host and, if not, what happened to it.

If Harper accepted the host but did not consume it, "it's worse than a faux pas, it's a scandal from the Catholic point of view," he said.

I am not a fan of Steven Harper but I don't see anything wrong with what he did. I probably would have done the same thing under the circumstances. Friendly Atheist agrees and PZ Myers offers to help Harper dispose of his wafer.


  1. Unless there was an announcement that people who were not Catholic should not come up for communion, or some other reason to think Harper knew what he was doing violated the ritual, Harper did nothing wrong. It has to be assumed by the church authorities that people at a politician's funeral might not be Catholic and wouldn't know what the rituals mean. And the priest surely might have had a hint who Harper was and that he wasn't Catholic. It was a cock-up on the church's side that they can't reasonably complain about.

  2. Having grown up a Catholic, I know that rationally they shouldn't complain; but for them it is not a matter of "faith" that transsubstantiation takes place during the liturgy. It is a matter of fact, and whether Harper intended to wrongly dispose of the host or not, he may have committed a Mortal Sin (no purgatory.) Everyone is Catholic in these matters, they just don't know it.

  3. John: I have the funny feeling that Larry's reason for excusing Harper is not the same as yours and mine. But ICBW.

  4. I personally would have brought a can of clam dip and enjoyed the little cracker.

  5. "I am not a fan of Steven Harper but I don't see anything wrong with what he did."

    Imagine being at a party or a reception and being offered something unfamiliar to you to eat or drink; you don't want to be rude and refuse, so you put the piece of food in your pocket or throw the drink in the soil of the nearest potted plant. I'm sure the people who invited you would be understanding of your ignorance and bad manners.

    PS. I so pleased that Harper gave PEE ZED Myers another opportunity to grab more than the 15 minutes of fame he deserves.

  6. "I am not a fan of Steven Harper but I don't see anything wrong with what he did."


    You will soon receive a letter from the PMO that says, "Thank you Dr. Moran for your contribution to Steven Harper's upcoming election campaign."

  7. Harper manoevered himself into a no-win situation.

    If he accepted the Host, he would have comitted some sacrilege according to his own branch of christianity.

    Now, he comitted a sacrilege from the viewpoint of the Catholic Church.

    He could have politely declined the sacrament, or his aides could have clued the priest.

    Well, he might try to square it all with the Pope ...

  8. Oh goodie! Another Great Frackencracker Caper!

  9. Food for thought: this may simply reflect the state of play with religion into today's society? Now something that might once have been common knowledge is now not known by all, or even a majority.

    I'm learning on this, too. One remark claims you're supposed to be baptised and "in a state of grace" in order to receive the thing. I mention this, because if this is "common knowledge" according to the writer, then it's not something I've ever known.

    I think this just reflects that religions aren't the force they once were, and that as a result they can't really "expect" people to "just know".

  10. Supposedly he is evangelical Christian which would mean he should be familiar with the communion ceremony. Am I correct?
    In any case, I totally don't care about his religious gaff, and I'm sure I have done more offensive things in a church, however it speaks to his lack of knowledge of his religious conservative base. To me it makes it seem as if he has just pretended to be religious for social benefit and not an active participant in order to not know one of the fundamental Christian ceremonies.
    Or he's on a low carb diet.