View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Canadian PM: Ignorance of/disrespect for Catholic teachings

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a major faux pas.

At a funeral, he took the Host - verboten for non-Catholics to do - and walked away without eating it.

A spokesman said he later consumed it - and did not just stick it in his pocket, as some folks alleged. He should not have received anyway.

Perhaps he was ignorant of what he was doing. After all, Protestant churches often don't have rules about Communion, and many Catholics ignore the very clear Catholic rules. But still - an apology is in order. And in the future, he should not stick out his hand to take a Host.


Anonymous Bernie said...

Everyone in the video looked to me as if they were unsure what to do. The PM perhaps did not want to appear to be refusing the Host and, yet, perhaps had a feeling he should not consume it. It appeared to me he put it in his pocket for safe keeping until he could figure out what to do! Even the archbishop looked a little confused and hesitant. He probably didn't want to appear to be refusing communion to the PM and, yet, couldn't quite remember why he should. I think we should let it go. Everyone involved is probably embarrassed for being confused.

4:09 AM  
Anonymous Bernie said...

I'm thinking now that it looks like he actually did keep the Host between his thumb and index finger while holding onto the program. So he probably did consume it after sitting down.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

A quick apology would probably suffice. I don't think malice was intended.

But this is a teachable moment. Why not have Church leaders simply remind people (including Catholics) of Church teachings. At the least, priests officiating at weddings and funerals should be told to provide reminders - either verbally, or in programs. (Missalettes already contain the information).

6:26 AM  
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10:05 AM  
Anonymous Bernie said...

Dr. K is right. In the past, Communion on the tongue while kneeling at a communion rail was sufficiently intimidating that only Catholics felt comfortable approaching. Personally, I'm not a big fan of going back to communion on the tongue to the exclusion of communion in the hand.

I dislike instructional directions during the liturgy. Funerals, weddings and the such, where non-Catholics are often present, are occasions to announce before the start who may receive. At the same time a fuller explanation could be printed in the order of service/program. If a family doesn't want the instructions in he program, then the parish should be prepared with a separate handout and insist that those be handed out in addition to the program. Some things just seem so obvious and easy to do one wonders why they aren't done. Simple steps could be taken to avoid the awkward and probably embarrassing situation of having to refuse communion to someone coming forward to receive.

"I'm afraid I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry" would have been sufficient. You are right.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Damned if you do, damned if you don't when you're a head of state (or government, in Harper's case)...

Maybe Canada should do like we used to do here in Mexico, where state officials did not attend church events in public. While here it was largely a matter of not upsetting anti-clerical perceptions, it's also true that no matter what a prime minister or president does, it's going to be seen as a political act.

Vicente Fox got a lot of guff for kissing JP-II's ring on his last state visit here. As a practicing Catholic, undoubtedly correct. As head of state greeting the head of the Vatican state, a diplomatic faux pas. Had Harper (a non-Catholic) taken communion, there would have been a different set of political issues (you can see the headlines: "Harper Catholic?")

3:47 PM  

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