Harper’s Communion Flap

OTTAWA, July 7, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in hot water over a video that caught him taking Holy Communion in a Catholic Church, despite being a non-Catholic Christian. To make matters worse, the video** shows him walking away without consuming the host – although a spokesman for the Prime Minister told LifeSiteNews.com that the PM did consume the host off-camera.The incident took place last Friday at the funeral of former Governor General Romeo Leblanc in Memramcook, New Brunswick.In the video Harper is shown being offered communion by the Archbishop of Moncton, André Richard. The Archbishop commented, regarding what Harper did with the host, that “I didn’t see anything wrong there because I was busy doing something else,” according to the Telegraph-Journal.According to Catholic teaching the communion wafer becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ after it is consecrated by the priest. The Church teaches that only practicing Catholics who are properly disposed to receive Holy Communion should present themselves to receive the sacrament.

Catholic officials are blaming Prime Minister Harper for the incident. Monsignor Brian Henneberry, Vicar General and Chancellor for the Diocese of St. John called for an explanation from the Prime Minister’s office. “If the prime minister is not a Catholic, he should not have been receiving communion,” he said, “and if he comes up it places the priest in an awkward position, especially at a national funeral because everyone is watching…”


Rev. Arthur Bourgeois, who preached the homily, however, said he did not have a problem with the prime minister receiving communion.  “Usually, to partake in holy communion in the Catholic Church, you have to be a member of it,” he said, “but if you’re not, exceptionally sometimes at major occasions (it is different).”

This is really unbelievable.  Why are Catholic authorities blaming the Prime Minister? The fault is hardly on him. The responsibility of instructing people at a public mass rests with the officiating priest. In this case it was the Archbishop himself!

Is not one of the chief responsibilities of a priest (and bishop no less) to protect the reverance and identity of  the Eucharist? 

Did I just hear the rocks crying out?

Oh by the way, did you catch what Fr. Bourgeois said above about non-Catholics partaking of the Eucharist on “major occasions.”?  I guess it’s a holiday special or something like that, eh?  Group discounts for all.

This kinda shows us the state of Catholicism in Canada today, dontit?

10 thoughts on “Harper’s Communion Flap

  1. Pro-abortion Catholic politicians have been receiving communion without an difficulty for about half a century now in Canada. Nothing to see here people, move on.

  2. We have a very sick Church in Canada and the rot runs deep. The Church’s teaching on the Eucharist is a cornerstone of the Catholic faith. If a bishop or priest can’t get that right, what hope do we have that they will get anything else right?

    The D&P scandal is likely only the tip of the iceberg, there are certaninly many other things going on that we don’t even know about.

    In addition to shining light in the dark places, like this blog and others do, we also have to remember to pray for their repentance and conversion. I forget that one sometimes.

  3. I totally agree with you John. In fact, I was going to comment the note yesterday in the Globe and Mail, but I abstained myself from that at the end, because I had just heard 2 minutes in the radio about the incident, and I thought to myself, that maybe I did not have all elements to comment on that. Then I read your note, and blended myself totally with it.

    Anyway, I agree, and I have seen that lack of proteccionism towards the Holy Eucharist in many churches. It is not a matter of leaving a piece of paper explaining the meaning of the Eucharist for visitors specially non-Catholics, which is a nice first step, but not sufficient. Who reads those papers placed in the cubicles where people sit during Mass?

    It should be mandatory that an oral explanation before Communion is done to the people participating in the Mass (not at the begining because people sometimes arrive late and do not get to know this). The explanation should be done specially:

    – During special events, like a funeral, 1st communiones, weddings, etc.
    – In Churches located in places visited by large amount of tourists.
    – Whenever the priest celebrating sees in the congregation, new people, different than regular participants, which is specially detected in small churches or small communities, where everyone knows everyone, to put it that way.

    Is not that difficult, and I will tell a simple example that happened to me to show how for the non-Catholic, the issue could become a less embarrased moment.

    I was in Quebec City a year ago attending Mass with a friend who is non-Catholic. As the time came for Communion, I was imploring to the Lord myself that this friend did not stand up to line up for Communion. I kept my eyes closed while praying hoping God would attach my friend to his sit, etc. However, it did nto happen and as I was going towards the altar, I turned back slowly and here he was coming 2 places behind me.

    Well, God, give me the courage to do what my Mom would do?

    I took my communion and wait and when my friend came before the priest, I tried to explained the priest in my French that my friend was non-Catholic, but that we were asking him (the priest) for a blessing for my friend.

    The Minister understood and blessed him.

    At the end of Mass, I was going to see how to deal with a potential offense towards my friend and how he would feel about the issue, but he was totally happy, because he did not know if he had to take Communion or not, and at the same time I was praying God to resolve the issue, he was doing the same to get an answer from Him about what was coming.

    He was totally pleased and was happy the way the Lord resolved the situation.

    So, if this simple Catholic like me did something like that, with the same help from God, more and better actions can be taken that involve the whole community participating in the Mass so that these things do not happen again and people understand.

    Let’s pray for all the ones that are responsible for these situations, and specially for the ones that did not take any action or have not taken any action about it doing the blind eyes thing, and for the ignorance, and that is the real issue, the ignorance of not weighting the solemnity of the most important part of Mass.



  4. When I wrote I agreed with John, it was John Pacheco, not the John that also commented to the note.

  5. Here Here.

    I have been saying the same for years (since 1993) when I tried to convince my pastor at the time to make such an announcement in our parish (about receiving a communion blessing only if you are not a practicing catholic in good standing).

    He was afraid to insult his parishioners, and said it was not up to him to refuse communion to anyone. He argued that it was up the the conscience of the person, whether or not to approach the altar. He still couldn’t see refusing Christ even to a grave sinner, because in his mind, Christ was the great physician and he came especially for the sick.

    He believed in the true presence, but was more afraid of denying someone God’s grace through judgement. One of his favourite bible passages was the one about the rich man who would not give up all his possessions. The disciples then said, how is it any of us can get to heaven then? “For men it is impossible, but for God, all things are possible.” That priest really felt it was God’s plan to commune with everyone regardless of their state of grace and regardless of the teaching of the church. He was a holy priest, and he erred on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion for very merciful reasons.

    I still disagreed with him, and continue to disagree, because I know of the power of spiritual communion. There was that alternative to be presented to the communicants and it would have protected everyone from sacrilege.

    Now that Christ has entered the soul of Stephen Harper through the Eucharist, let us pray that His True Presence may have an influence on our PM’s leadership of Canada. In God’s permissive will it happened. So watch how God will this incidence to bring about the greater good.

  6. A priest can do someone great harm by administering the Eucharist to someone unworthily (people who are not in a state of grace, but I would extend that to someone who does not recognize the True Presence of Christ at communion). This is not a game. Remember 1 Corintheans 11:
    27. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.
    28. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup.
    29. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.
    30. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying.
    31. If we discerned ourselves, we would not be under judgment;
    32. but since we are judged by [the] Lord, we are being disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

  7. Robert makes a great point, often overlooked by priests who don’t want to deny communion to anyone. The state of someone’s soul can get worse if they commit sacrilege.

    Too often, these “inclusive” priests really just lack backbone. Joanne said that her priest was “afraid to insult his parishioners”. That’s a big problem in our Church today. People want to be liked by others more than they want to speak the Truth. I’ve seen it in many priests. But confirming someone in their complacency and sin is the opposite of charity and mercy. It brings death to their soul.

  8. A quick note for Juan-Carlos:

    Thanks for sharing. If you have any family or friends living in one of the Latin American countries where D&P has some pro-abortion partners, I would encourage you to ask your family/friends to speak to their bishops and demand change, like the bishops of Peru did.

    God bless.

  9. The problem with the priest that doesn’t want to “judge”, is that judging is precisely what he is doing, when he decides that anyone can receive.

    It’s like a priest saying he wouldn’t counsel a couple to refrain from sex before marriage, because he wouldn’t want to judge the whether their love reaches the requirements for the conjugal act.

    Just as the marriage act is reserved for married people, communion is reserved for those in full communion with God and His Church.

    We must not judge people as being unworthy of hearing the truth.

  10. That is why our Pope invites us in this year dedicated to the Priests to apply for as many as possible Partial or Plenary Indulgences for the death priests who are in to Purgatory and to pray for the protection and sanctification of our beloved priests.

    About these indulgences:

    I hope people could acquire the book with the Sermons of the Cure of Ars. There are some sermons available at http://icatholicism.com/literature/sermons-of-st.-john-vianney-cure-of-ars.html.

    Just read one and you with get a glance at why this Saint was chosen by our Pope to enlight this year dedicated to the priests.

    Let’s pray for them.

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