Can you imagine that an American archbishop would not know that President Bush, or current President, Barack Obama, are not Catholic and should not be given Holy Communion?
Well, Canadian Archbishop, Andre Richard of Moncton, New Brunswick, distributed Communion to the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper - an evangelical protestant - who did not consume the Eucharist within the video footage shown. Various sources are claiming that the Consecrated Host went into the pocket of the PM, but this cannot be proven by what is seen. However, what did Mr. Harper do with Our Lord? His staff is claiming that the Eucharist was consumed by Mr. Harper after he was out of view.
When I watched the video, I saw what appeared to be an awkward approach by the Prime Minister. He puts one hand out, while in the other hand is, perhaps, a program. Catholics typically do not receive this way. Archbishop Richard does look up momentarily before putting the Host into the hand of the PM. Harper's hand never goes up to his mouth, but drops to his side.
At Assumption Grotto during weddings and funerals, the priests typically address those present immediately following the homily, explaining that only baptized Catholics who are in communion with the Catholic Church, accepting of her teachings and properly disposed, should present themselves. Then, they explain what it means to be properly disposed.
This is rarely seen in the vast majority of parishes.....unfortunately.
It was wrong for the PM to present himself, but it's possible, with all of the ambiguity coming from Catholic pulpits these days (and winks & nods given offline), that there was ignorance on his part that he was doing something offensive. One report suggests he asked a Catholic what to do with it following Mass which, if true, is a manifestation of the sad position in which this Protestant was put when he was not denied or offered a simple blessing instead (a manner of denying Holy Communion that is not condescending, and recognizes the awkward position some may be in when an entire pew is emptied into procession).
The Toronto Star quotes Archdiocese of Toronto spokesman Neil McCarthy, who stated (my comments bracketed in red; emphases in bold; I have changed, to capital letters, all references to the Eucharist which are bracketed):
...that Harper should not have accepted the [C]ommunion given that he isn't Roman Catholic [was this explained to him during the Mass]?
"In the Roman Catholic faith we say that Roman Catholics are the only ones who should present themselves for [C]ommunion because we believe that are actually consuming the [B]ody and [B]lood of Jesus Christ," he told the Toronto Star. [was this explained during the Mass]?
MacCarthy said he is sure Harper meant no disrespect but should have politely declined by crossing his arms over his chest [and he would know to do this how? Was it explained?] "We encourage those who are non-Catholic ... to present themselves for a blessing (instead)," he said. [Again....was this explained during the liturgy, which is where it should be explained. If it was, and the PM still presented himself, then we can shift some blame to him. Otherwise, it is most charitable to assume he didn't know any better].
Responsibility falls with the celebrant of the Mass (or other priest who steps out as Fr. Perrone sometimes does when other priests have the liturgy) and those distributing Communion. They must protect not only the Eucharist, but others from participating in scandal. As for the Archbishop, please pray for him, especially, if he was aware that he was giving the Eucharist to someone who was not in Communion with the Catholic Church.
Here is the video, and below you will find some posts and news coverage links from around the internet.
- Canadian Communion Blunder (Ed Peters, JD, JCD)
- Catholics demand explanation for PM pocketing communion wafer at LeBlanc funeral (Canada East Telegraph-Journal)
- Canadian Non-Catholic PM and a consecrated Host (Fr. Z)
- American Papist blogs the story
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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!