Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Crackergate in Canada
So, according to news reports (eg here and here), Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper has created a "scandal" by not properly taking communion at a Catholic funeral.
Monsignor Brian Henneberry, vicar general and chancellor in the Diocese of Saint John, says that 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."
Amazingly, this puts me in the position of defending Stephen Harper (yikes). But here's the thing: It is not up to Harper, even if he is Prime Minister, to be cognizant of the church rules for a church of which he is not a member - it is the height of arrogance for the Roman Catholic Church to have such an expectation. If the holy body of their Lord Jesus Christ was improperly handled, it is entirely the fault of the priests for not providing proper instruction (not to mention the fact that presumably they should have known that Harper was not a Catholic, so they should not have given him the wafer in the first place).
[I am not, and never have been a Catholic, but I have been to a few Catholic masses, where, in preparation for Communion, the priest provides instructions indicating that the elements are only to be consumed by members of the Catholic Church, and inviting those who are ineligible to partake of the elements to fold their hands and receive a blessing from the priest instead. If the priest did not provide such instructions in this case, they have no one to blame but themselves.]