09 July 2009

Stephen Harper Pockets a Consecrated Host

It looks like Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper put a consecrated host in his pocket after Archbishop André Richard gave It to him during the funeral Mass for former Governor General Romeo LeBlanc. Watch the video below:

It seems that some devout Catholics are outraged by this and want a public apology. I even read one headline on the internet that said, "Canadian PM Commits Sacrilege." Sacrileges have been committed and public apologies should be made; however, Mr. Harper is not guilty of sacrilege and he should not be the one to apologise. For a person to be guilty of committing a sacrilege, he must be aware that what he is doing is a sacrilege. It looks more like Mr. Harper may have been extending his hand to shake Archbishop Richard's hand. When he was given the Body of Christ, he accepted It, not wanting to look like he didn't know what he was doing. Since he really didn't know what he was doing, he didn't consume It; at least, not as long as the camera was on him. Mr. Harper, like many who visit a Roman Catholic church, is not guilty of anything other than not knowing what Catholics do at a Mass.

The problem is not that Mr. Harper didn't know what to do, but that he was put in a situation that should not have happened. Communion in the hand while standing has never been officially approved by the Church. It is only allowed where an indult has been granted. While many Roman Rite bishops have made standing the norm for receiving Communion and receiving in the hand or on the tongue  as optional, no pope has ever approved it. In fact, every pope that mentions it has discouraged it, if not condemned it.

If we turn the clock back only forty years, Mr. Harper still wouldn't know what he was doing, but he would have been in a much different situation. All Catholics would have processed to a Communion rail, where they would have knelt down and then received Communion on the tongue. Most non-Catholics, such as Mr. Harper, would have been too intimidated to do anything other than stay in the pew. If they did go forward, it would have been very difficult to commit sacrilege. As it is, sacrilege is very easy, both intentionally and, as in Mr. Harper's case, unintentionally .