Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ok, now this is a dumb attack on Stephen Harper

So far as I know Harper is a Christian and while accepting the wafer may be theologically fraught -- can a non-Catholic properly accept communion? (It depends on the relation of the communion -- so Coptic yes, Lutheran not; but all Christians are in some way in connection to the Roman Church, at least from Rome's view) -- this hardly seems likely a legitimate attack. It's a bit like attacking his choice in literature.

Stephen Harper committed no etiquette blunder at the funeral mass of former governor-general Roméo Leblanc, his spokesman said, denying speculation that the Prime Minister pocketed a communion wafer offered to him by a priest.

The Prime Minister's Office was reacting after a high-ranking New Brunswick Catholic church official asked that Mr. Harper clarify what happened. Catholics consider that the host is the body of the Christ once it is consecrated by the priest and is supposed to be consumed after it is received.

Footage of the service, shown on Cable Public Affairs Channel, shows Mr. Harper receiving the wafer but the camera cuts away before the Prime Minister can be seen putting it in his mouth.

The two people who received wafers before and after Mr. Harper - Jean-Daniel Lafond, the spouse of the Governor-General, and New Brunswick Lieutenant-Governor Herménégilde Chiasson - can be seen putting the host in their mouths right away.

"He accepted it and consumed it," Mr. Harper's spokesman, Dimitri Soudas, said from Italy where the Prime Minister is meeting G8 leaders.

"The camera was on for two or three seconds. One cannot assume that because the camera was not on him that he did not consume communion."

Excerpts from the video have been posted on YouTube, where some viewers speculated that Mr. Harper looked like he wanted to shake hands with the priest and wasn't expecting to get the wafer instead.

"It's not the first time that he's attended a service," Mr. Soudas said however.

The issue was initially raised by Monsignor Brian Henneberry, vicar general and chancellor in the Diocese of Saint John.

"It's worse than a faux pas, it's a scandal from the Catholic point of view," he told the Saint John Telegraph-Journal.

Father Henneberry, who spoke up after receiving a call from a concerned Catholic, was not available for comment today, the diocese said.

The other matter is whether Mr. Harper should have declined the wafer since he is as an evangelical Protestant, a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church.

"Who is the Prime Minister to question a priest offering him communion?" Mr. Soudas said.

James Morton
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Anonymous said...

It's the Catholic priest that is concerned and offended - a little appology out of line? Simple, but Harper can't ever admit he's wrong and it's always someone else's fault.

Mark Francis said...

Hmmm... Maybe not so silly. Checkout Jeff:

Cherniak_WTF said...

It's extremely silly.

Sure the "spokesthinghy" for Harper is not helping with his spin, but overall this is much ado about nothing.

Skinny Dipper said...

It's a cultural and religious faux pas in the making. Had Harper refused the wafer, he could have been accused of insulting the priest. Had he eaten the wafer, he could have been accused of participating in a Roman Catholic ritual when he is not Roman Catholic. Had the PM been Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu, what should he or she have done?

When the Inuit offer seal heart, does one eat it?

When an Aboriginal offers a smoke from the ceremonial peace pipe, does one inhale or just touch the pipe?

Anonymous said...

Well, Harper as our PM could have learned the protocol/manners/, etc. prior to the event if he didn't know - it was a State funeral afterall.

RuralSandi said...

It's not the action/issue - it's the "cover-up" that always causes the problem.

A simple apology and explanation that he didn't understand could have save a lot of trouble here.

Fish said...

Yeah, I mean sure he looks pathetic for trying to lie his way out of it, but this is hardly a big deal.

rampant reader said...

hiya, great to see you writing about this, but when you lift a complete newspaper article from another site ((, you must, MUST source it. please respect the work of the person who did the research & interviews so that you could learn about the event!
(and no, I'm not the writer nor do I have any relationship to them - I'm simply an avid reader & writer myself)

foottothefire said...

"Leadership", is what Harper likes to sell, isn't it? Shouldn't the leader of the country understand the concept of protocol? The man is a hillbilly huckster; a politico carpetbagger who'd kiss the devil if there was a photo op in it.
The shoe fits!

Anonymous said...

Harper - the perfect idiot!

Gordie_Canuk said...

Just some basic facts, the Priest erred in giving Harper the host...or wafer, or whatever noun you choose to ascribe to it. Only confirmed members of the ROMAN Catholic church are supposed to receive communion according to RC dogma. Harper can consider himself a Catholic still though, Catholic merely means universal.

If the priest in question is not hyper political he can be forgiven for not knowing Harper isn't RC.
At some masses, when many non RCs are thought to be in attendance, an announcment is sometimes made explaining that communion is for confirmed members only...not everyone gets a seat at the Lord's table according to Rome.

The proper etiquette (for lack of a better word) would have been for Harper to go up with his arms folded across his chest, then the priest would have made the sign of the cross as a form of blessing.

At the end of the day though...politically speaking this means squat.

Rome was probably happy with the way Stevie reacted to Toronto's Gay pride celebrations receiving government funding. Sure government is supposed to be about 'The People'...but Harper shares the same views as Rome about 'those' people. Maybe they'll make him an honourary Roman Catholic for his socially conservative views.

Savant said...

We now have a 'witness' who assures that they saw Harper consume the host...

The Speaker of the Senate of Canada, the Noël A. Kinsella, (a Catholic) even issued a statement refuting the claims the Prime Minister pocketed the holy wafer: “I would like to state that I personally witnessed Prime Minister Harper consume the host that was given to him by Archbishop André Richard. Sitting only a few seats behind him I had a full view of the proceedings and clearly saw the Prime Minister accept the host after Archbishop Richard offered it. The Prime Minister consumed it.” (ref)

Anonymous said...

"It's a bit like attacking his choice in literature. "

No, it's vastly more vicious than that. You appear to be the only Liberal smart enough to see this is dumb. No matter. We will destroy you on this one, the warpaint is on.

A Governor General's funeral, James. And they used it to launch a concerted, sleazy attack. It raises serious, legitimate questions about whether the Liberals are just too nasty, too vicious, too catty, and too immature to lead a G8 country. You should be ashamed of yourself for being associated with these people and reflect upon the appropriateness of your political support.

The warpaint is on, we want nothing less than the deregistration of the LPC, the seizure of its assets, and the NDP to fill the void. Sorry, your party is just too ugly to lead this country.

Again, good for you for being apparently the only Liberal to have a problem with this vicious, immature attack, but too little, too late. We will bury you on this one. As savant above notes, the story was bogus, it was questionable at first glance to begin with.

Dead. The Liberal party is dead. Too ugly, too nasty, too vicious, too immature for this great nation. Looks like the "timeout" - 3 years wasn't long enough. I cannot overemphasize how badly your party fouled this up, exposing the latent ugliness of virtually every supporter of the Liberals, hardly any objected to this ghastly stunt.

Hideous! Shame! How can you stand being associated with these people James? It calls *your* question into judgment.

Downes said...

The scandal isn't that Harper declined to consume communion - that was actually defensible - but rather the fact that the Conservative press office's first instinct was to lie about it.