Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Catholics want answers: Why did Harper pocket the host at LeBlanc's funeral?

This story almost seems unbelievable, but the Telegraph Journal is reporting that last week, at Romeo LeBlanc's funeral mass in New Brunswick, when Stephen Harper was offered the communion wafer by the priest he slipped it into his 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.

Henneberry said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office is in order.

"If I were the prime minister, I would at least offer an explanation to say no offence was meant, and then (clarifying) what happened to the consecrated host is in order," he said. "I would hope the Prime Minister's Office would have enough respect for the Catholic Church and for faith in general to make clear whatever happened."
According to the paper, the slight to the church was visible on the television feed of the event:
On Friday, during the mass, Harper reached out with his right hand and accepted the wafer from a priest.

A television camera lingered long enough to show New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Herménégilde Chiasson, the next person to receive the host, raise his to his mouth.

But the tape shows that Harper does not consume the wafer before the camera cuts away several seconds later.
Harper isn't even Catholic; he's a member of something called the Christian & Missionary Alliance, an evangelical Protestant denomination. So it's unclear why he would be accepting the host in the first place, instead of politely declining. Even among Catholics, you don't accept the host until you've had your First Communion, and then only if you've kept up with certain activities.

I think Harper owes an explanation, and a sincere apology, to the Catholic community. And one wonders, just what the heck happened with the host he was given anyways? Did it stay in his pocket? This is more than just a wafer in the Catholic community, and Harper's cavalier behaviour seems pretty insulting.

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Prairie Kid said...

OMG . . . Wafergate!! This needs to be investigated right away.

Why don't you get a life.

penlan said...

In many evangelical circles the Catholic Church is considered a cult & partaking in the host would be considered a form of "corruption" of self & Spirit. It wouldn't surprise me if that was Harper's reason for not eating it. He should have declined receiving it in that case, as you said.

As an aside, my mother was Catholic, she just passed away in April, & every year at Christmas, for 65 yrs. since she was 20 & immigrated to England, she would receive a wafer from her sister in Poland (my mom was from there) that had been blessed by the priest. But that is considered a special dispensation from what I understand.

Harper hasn't a clue beyond his small, narrow, & petty life view. It will be interesting to see if he makes a statement or an apology of some sort. I somehow doubt it.