Prime Minister Harper (on the left) with Spiritual Advisor
Astonishing! Scandalous! Sacrilege! Heresy! Sinful! In his ongoing effort to shamelessly hustle votes by trying to be all things to all people, Prime Minister Harper recently tried to pass himself off as a Roman Catholic at the funeral service for former Governor General Romeo Leblanc in Memramcook, New Brunswick by accepting sacramental communion.
Given his sparse worldliness, his early background as a frequenter of United and Presbyterian Churches, and his current affiliation with his fellow arch-social conservatives in the Evangelical Christian and Missionary Alliance, it is little wonder that the klutzy Harper found the ceremony quite foreign and confusing to him. Unlike Roman Catholics who rise and gulp the wafer and bolt real vino (if they so wish) when communion is served by the Priest, in Harper’s ho-hum religious world communion involves seated parishioners discretely passing along wafers which each of them consume, together with small glasses of unfermented grape juice.
It would appear from a video of the Harper communion that when the Priest gave Harper the wafer, he did not immediately gulp or devour it. He slipped it into his pocket! See it for yourself here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/08/stephen-harper-puts-commu_n_228023.html as it disappears amongst his loose change, kleenex and other personal debris.
What made the Prime Minister do such a thing? Was he confused? Disoriented? Did he have qualms of guilt? Was he playing an improvised shell game? See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_game
In the Roman Catholic Church, not to swallow the wafer immediately is a grave no-no! In case you are interested in this ancient practice, read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucharist
The Roman Catholic clergy in New Brunswick is up in arms at the insult and is demanding an explanation. The wafer – properly called “the host” in Roman Catholic ritual – is the body and blood of Christ and must be consumed when received. No ifs, ands, or buts. Not only that, in order to receive “the host” you must be a Roman Catholic, unless perhaps there is a real emergency - like imminent death.
Monsignor Brian Henneberry the vicar general and chancellor in the Diocese of Saint John says, if Harper accepted the wafer but did not eat it, ". . it's worse than a faux pas, it's a scandal from the Catholic point of view." See: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/front/article/722036
So with a multitude of Canadian Roman Catholics being irked and upset at the gaffe (or sin, insult, heresy, scandal and/or sacrilege), all of this bodes ill for Harper’s audience with the Pope, expected to take place over the next few days in Rome.
Today, Dimitri Soudas, Harper’s chosen mouthpiece in the debacle, said that Harper ate the wafer within seconds and that all is well with the world. And surprise, surprise, he blamed the CBC for the whole affair saying that regardless of what the video shows, the cameras were not on the prime minister long enough. Read: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2009/07/08/harper-archbishop.html
Well, have another look at the video and see if you agree: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/08/stephen-harper-puts-commu_n_228023.html