As readers of Socon or Bust are aware, I have only taken a cursory notice of the manufactured Communion flap involving the Prime Minister. Until now, I have mostly laid the blame at the feet of the presiding church officials for their lax approach to the protocol concerning Communion for non-Catholics. Later, as all of the artificial “outrage” by pseudo-Catholic Liberals started to reach its crescendo, I started to entertain the idea that this “scandal” was a manufactured Liberal smear to recapture the Catholic vote the Liberal Party had lost during the last couple of elections . Given Fife’s report, it looks like my original suspicions were on the money. I also made some remarks on the admission that the MSM was responsible for pushing this bogus story with “no credible support”. All in all, then, I’ve been merely reporting on this story as a casual observer.
A couple of my colleagues have since poked me and set a bee in my ear to get more involved and do a little more digging. So that’s what I did. I looked around for a couple of hours on the internet to follow up on some of my suspicions and other leads of interest, but, for the most part, the effort was largely in vain. The longer you take to react to a story on the internet, the harder it is to get in the game when you’re already in the ninth inning.
Sometimes, however, it’s not necessary to do extensive research and prodding around, especially, as in this case, when the evidence is right before one’s eyes in the original story which started the whole ruckus in motion in the first place. I had never completely read the entire article, mostly relying on small citations from other blogs and news sources, but when I finally settled myself to read through it, a few things, which just didn’t fit right and whose timing was more than coincidental, jumped out at me.
Let’s start with a little bit of geography. The Funeral Mass was held in Memramcook, New Brunswick which is within the episcopal jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Moncton and whose ordinary is Most Reverend André Richard. Archbishop Richard was also the officiating priest at the Funeral of Roméo LeBlanc on July 3 at Saint Thomas parish in the Archdiocese of Moncton.
The reporters who were to have ostensibly written the story were based in Ottawa and Moncton, as the title of the article makes apparent:
Questions Catholics demand explanation for PM pocketing communion wafer at LeBlanc funeral
One of the reporters (Linke) was from Ottawa, the political center of the country, while the other reporter (Huras) was based in the (Archdiocese of) Moncton where the Funeral took place. And yet curiously in the report, in addition to seeking out the opinion of the parish priest and homilist, Rev. Arthur Bourgeois, and Monsignor André Richard, the Archbishop of Moncton where the so-called controversy erupted, the writer of the more controversial elements of the story (not the above named reporters as we were all later to discover) also opted to seek out the opinion of the Vicar General of the Diocese of Saint John which is located southeast of the Archdiocese of Moncton. This is unusual since the Diocese of Saint John had no relevant connection to the Funeral Mass. Nor does this diocese have any particular preeminence among the others in the province, like the Archdiocese of Moncton has. (An “Arch-diocese” is so named because it typically has a primacy of position among the other dioceses, largely because of its size and prominence in a geographical area. In the case of New Brunswick, there is one Archdiocese [Moncton] and three dioceses [Saint John, Bathhurst, Edmunston].) Furthermore, as already pointed out above, one of the noted reporters of the story was based in Moncton, covering a story in the Archdiocese of Moncton. There would have been no genuine reason to seek out yet another opinion from officials of the Catholic Church in a neighboring diocese, when the homilist and the Archbishop presiding at the Funeral had already given their comments for the story.
The likely real reason why a “second opinion” was sought by the Telegraph Journal was because Rev. Arthur Bourgeois and Archbishop André Richard did not express the anticipated religious outrage at the Prime Minister which would have been required to make a story out of it. Rev. Bourgeois didn’t see any problem with Prime Minister Harper receiving Communion (that’s the real scandal in this story, by the way, but the media was not interested in that), while the Archbishop disavowed any knowledge of what the Prime Minister did with the Host and was seemingly unconcerned (at least to the media) that a Protestant should receive a Catholic Sacrament, in any event. This was not exactly the kind of reaction the Telegraph Journal wanted to hear. So, what’s a liberal paper supposed to do? Seek a second opinion from someone who actually knows what the Church teaches on reception of the Eucharist on the allegation that Harper pocketed the Host. Enter Msgr. Henneberry, the Vicar General of Saint John which, coincidentally, happens to be in the same city where the Telegraph Journal is headquartered. And what does he say?
“It’s worse than a faux pas, it’s a scandal from the Catholic point of view“.
There be the money quote, ladies and gentlemen, and the poor Msgr. didn’t even know he was being squeezed by the liberal MSM to foment a faux scandal.
The Telegraph Journal’s apology stated that the reporters in question did not write the statements about pocketing the host or discussing the issue with Msgr. Henneberry:
The story stated that a senior Roman Catholic priest in New Brunswick had demanded that the Prime Minister’s Office explain what happened to the communion wafer which was handed to Prime Minister Harper during the celebration of communion at the funeral mass. The story also said that during the communion celebration, the Prime Minister “slipped the thin wafer that Catholics call ‘the host’ into his jacket pocket”….Our reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras, who wrote the story reporting on the funeral, did not include these statements in the version of the story that they wrote. In the editing process, these statements were added without the knowledge of the reporters and without any credible support for them.
There are two things to note here. First, the Telegraph Journal implied in their apology that the alleged statements by Msgr. Henneberry could not be supported at all, but I doubt very much that they were fabricated. They sound very plausible and in line with what the Church teaches about the proper disposition concerning the treatment of the Blessed Sacrament. The more likely scenario is that the Telegraph Journal wanted to disavow almost everything in the article in order to extricate itself from a very messy situation in which the reporters who were credited with writing the original article never conducted the interview with Msgr. Henneberry. It was probably an editorial staffer of the Telegraph Journal who later conducted the interview with Msgr. Henneberry in order to obtain the “second opinion” which helped stoke the “scandal”. But as for the comments themselves, they were almost certainly accurate. Indeed, Msgr. Henneberry has never complained about his interview with the Telegraph Journal being inaccurately reported. Furthermore, while the apology says that the reporters did not write the statements attributed to Msgr. Henneberry, it did not similarly deny that these reporters reported the comments by Rev. Arthur Bourgeois and the Archbishop of Moncton correctly. In fact, it suggests the opposite since it acknowledges that they “wrote the story reporting on the funeral”. This suggests that someone at the Telegraph Journal was “opinion shopping” with Msgr. Henneberry in order to get a desired result.
But why did the editorial staffer(s) do this? They were not the the original reporters on this story. The story was published 5 DAYS after the funeral. Editorial staff are not supposed to be reporters. Therefore, if they received new facts of the story i.e. on how the Prime Minister allegedly “pocketed the host”, and they did not get this information from the original reporters as the Telegraph Journal’s apology stated, just who did they get this information from? If it was not gathered from their own reporters, then who provided them with this singular piece of information? And why?
The answer, I suspect, can be found in this segment of the report:
When Harper took the host, “everybody just paused and said, ‘What did he do with it?'”‚” said one official who watched the pool feed with reporters who were not inside St. Thomas Church in Memramcook.
“You could see he was, ‘Uh oh, I don’t know what to do with this.'”‚”
The curiosity among Catholics has not gone unnoticed among Liberal insiders in Ottawa, either.
The editors did not get this account from the original reporters. So they received it from someone outside of the Telegraph Journal’s press corp. And since this particular account was not reported by any other news media at the time, it raises troubling questions about the identity of the source. Notice, for instance, in the first sentence, there is a quote from “one official“. But it does not say who that official was or what kind of official it was (for obvious reasons). Certainly, it was not another reporter who made the statement since there would have been no reason to distinguish an “official” from “reporters”, and it would not likely be a priest since the priests would be involved in the Mass. Moreover, notice the way the first sentence in the quote above is written. It is not written the way a reporter would be explaining the event at all. It is written in the form of hearsay, as if the information was merely being retold. If the Telegraph Journal reporter had been with the reporters watching the pool feed and commented on the reaction to the Prime Minister accepting the Host, he would have made the observation himself and not written it as if the statement were coming from the mysterious “official”.
A third party account (same as above): “When Harper took the host, ‘everybody just paused and said, ‘”What did he do with it?”‘ said one official who watched the pool feed with reporters who were not inside St. Thomas Church in Memramcook.”
A reporter account: “When Harper took the host, many of those assembled paused and said, ”What did he do with it?”…”
The grammar of the story’s account, therefore, only makes sense if it was provided to the Telegraph Journal by someone other than one of their reporters who witnessed the incident.
One must also ask just what kind of “official” was passing along this information? The last line in the selection above provides a clue. When I read the sentence “the curiosity among Catholic has not gone unnoticed among Liberal insiders in Ottawa, either”, to me, the sentence was completely out of place since the Liberal Party was not mentioned anywhere before or after this line. There was no further clarification on which Liberal insiders in Ottawa took notice of the event, unless, of course, the sentence was trying to contrast the (Liberal) “official” at the funeral who “watched the pool feed with reporters” with the Liberal officials (insiders) in Ottawa. Furthermore, it is also unclear how the author of the report seems to know that Liberal insiders have “taken notice”, unless of course, the Liberal insiders were the ones pointing out the “scandal” to the editorial staff in the first place. Perhaps even more troubling was the fact that this story was virtually unknown by the general Catholic population before the Telegraph Journal broke it on July 8, and yet the report says that Liberal insiders knew about the “curiosity among Catholics”. Really? And just how did the Liberal Party know about the curiosity among Catholics before the report became public and gained widespread recognition? Did any Catholics make any public statement about the alleged misconduct by the Prime Minster before they were prompted to by the Telegraph Journal? No. Of course not. There was no curiosity until the report became public, and was pushed by Liberal Party operatives on the internet by YouTube and by Blog.
But wait…there was one woman who coincidentally came forward to express some consternation. She was not just upset. She was “very upset”:
Henneberry said he has received a call on Harper’s actions from a concerned Catholic, and he doubts that she is the only one puzzled and perturbed.
“She said she was very upset,” he said, adding he had not seen the footage.
“She said, ‘All weekend long it has been bothering me and I know I can’t do something about it, but someone should.’
First of all, no faithful Catholic has been scandalized by the Prime Minister’s conduct. No one is disputing that Mr. Harper should have been more careful, but no group or individual believes that Harper was not acting in good faith. The Catholic groups that have spoken out have been more critical of Church officials for their negligence in giving proper instruction rather than blaming the Prime Minister . In fact, I know of no faithful Catholic or Catholic group who has taken serious issue with Harper’s conduct. Not one.
Secondly, the woman in question phoned Msgr. Henneberry on Monday July 6 or Tuesday July 7 (in the morning), as is evident by “her struggle” over the Prime Minister’s conduct during the preceding weekend. The report was written on Tuesday in order for it to be published on the morning of Wednesday July 8. It is more than somewhat suspicious that Msgr. Henneberry, who has nothing to do with the scandal and is situated in another diocese altogether, happens to hear the complaints of a woman whose reaction will be reported in the article. And, of course, her complaints are on record with the Archdiocese before the Telegraph Journal’s interview with Msgr. Henneberry. That’s reminiscent of what occurs at all-candidates debates. When the time comes for questions from the audience, Party hacks flood the microphone in order to control the “turf”, to ask the soft ball questions to their candidate, and to pepper the hard questions to the opposing Party’s candidate. In other words, politics is all about manipulating the environment in order to secure the most advantageous outcome for your side. Similarly, this woman and her reaction was likely a plant by Liberal strategists to put some meat on the bones of the “scandal”.
The facts of this story, therefore, certainly confirm the claims of CTV reporter, Robert Fife, about this “scandal” being an insider job by Liberal tacticians:
Well, I’m told that the Liberals passed the story to young Jamie Irving who was the publisher of the paper. He passed it to the editor who put it in the paper without checking it out, and today the editor has been fired, and Jamie’s father has suspended his son for thirty days, and I’m told the prime minister is pretty thrilled with that.” (Source)
And so, in summary, the questions remain:
1. Why did the the Telegraph Journal seek the opinion of a Church official disconnected to the controversy?
2. Who was this “official” which fed the information to the Telegraph Journal’s editorial staff about the alleged pocketing of the host, if it was not one of their own reporters or other reporters?
3. Why did the report say that “Liberal insiders” knew about the “curiosity among Catholics” when no such sentiment was expressed before the story broke on July 8?
4. Why did the woman who was interiewed call the Vicar General of Saint John (Msgr. Henneberry) and not the Vicar General of Moncton where the dispute happened?
It is indeed a sad and low day for the political and media class in this country when they cannot restrain themselves from attacking their political opponents by using the most sacred element in Catholicism to do it. This is in addition to making the funeral mass of a Governor General a political circus designed to humiliate our Prime Minister.
Perhaps not much is sacred for them, but have they no class whatsoever?
Jesus once told his disciples not to flash their pearls before the swine, lest they trample them under their feet. Let this solemn admonition serve as a sobering reminder to the Catholic hierarchy in this country to guard the dignity of the Eucharist zealously, and to not let the media and political swine in this country have an opporunity to use the Eucharist for some cheap political weapon. Never again should the media be permitted to use our most sacrosanct belief in the Holy Eucharist as some kind of money chip to buy political currency for their pimps in the Liberal Party.
To read other Socon or Bust Special Investigative Reports, click here.