Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper was given a Communion Wafer at a recent funeral. He put it in his pocket.
Check it out at the 0:30 mark of this video:
Now the uproar begins.
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 agree with PZ and others on this: it’s just a cracker and while Catholic can give it whatever symbolic meaning they wish, the rest of us can choose to be realistic about it.
Let’s assume a couple things. One, since Harper is an evangelical Christian, he probably doesn’t buy into the cracker-is-really-the-body-of-Christ nuttiness. Two, he doesn’t put himself in many situations in which he is offered a Communion Wafer so he probably doesn’t know the proper protocol to refuse it.
So really, what options did Harper have?
Either he publicly shuns the wafer because he’s not Catholic — and Catholics would’ve been offended.
Or he takes it and eats it — and because he’s not Catholic, Catholics would’ve been offended.
Or he takes it and pockets it in order to not cause a scene. Which he did. And now Catholics are offended.
I’m not sure what else he could’ve done.
I don’t know if this is a big story in Canada… but can you imagine the Catholic reaction in America if this happened to President Obama?