Canadian Non-Catholic PM and a consecrated Host

Biretta tip  o{]:¬)   to Lifesite for what follows.

First, watch the video (not from Lifesite):

Canadian Non-Catholic PM Says he Did Consume Communion after Offered, Will Meet Pope Saturday

By John-Henry Westen

OTTAWA, July 7, 2009 ( – 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. spoke with Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas who explained that the Prime Minister was offered Communion and therefore "accepted it and consumed it." He said, "Any allegation that he put it in his pocket is absurd and ridiculous."   [If he didn’t put It in his jacket pocket, what did he do with It?  Drop It on the ground?  Consume it?]

When questioned about the video showing the PM walking away without consuming the Host, Soudas replied: "He was holding a program in his hand and he went to put the program down and then consumed it." That took place, he said, after the camera stopped following the PM. 

Asked why the PM as a non-Catholic would receive Communion, which in Catholic teaching is reserved for Catholics and even only those Catholics who are properly disposed to receiving Communion, Soudas replied: "Who is the Prime Minister to judge once Communion has been offered to him?"

Soudas added, "It is a well known fact that he’s a Christian." Soudas then turned to the Prime Minister’s upcoming meeting with Pope Benedict XVI Saturday. "He’s very much looking forward to his audience with the Pope this Saturday," said Soudas. He would not state if the PM had any agenda for that meeting,  but did acknowledge that Mr. Harper would be accompanied by his wife and children. 

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  1. Jack says:

    I wonder if Obama will receive Communion ? Jusk asking… I think Bill Clinton got communion in a Novus Ordo celebration one time or another.

  2. Matthew says:

    Honestly, I’ve seen the video twice now and it is not clear what Mr Harper did with the Host. What is clear is that he did not seem to have any idea what was about to happen or what to do when it did. The man receiving before him also seemed to be taken somewhat by surprise. Mr. Harper at first, I think, is extending his hand to the priest expecting to shake his hand and then rather awkwardly takes the Host that was rather well..forced on him. The priest is the one who ought to be the center of attention here not Mr. Harper. Are you telling me that this priest was unaware the Mr. Harper is not a Catholic? There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that he could be ignorant of this fact.

  3. Mike M says:

    It seemed like an honest mistake to me.

  4. Hermeneutic of Reform says:

    What do you mean “..then what did he do with It?”

    (1) In a preceding sentence, it was already noted that the Blessed Sacrament was “consumed.” That’s what he “did” with “It.”

    (2) Our Lord Jesus Christ is a “Him” and not an “It”!

  5. Henry Edwards says:

    “He was holding a program in his hand and he went to put the program down and then consumed it.”

    Ok, so he consumed the program. But that wasn’t the question.

  6. Patricia says:

    Sadly, I have found out that non-Catholics offered Communion is not that unusual. At a friend’s funeral at a Bay Area church, all attendees were invited to come up and take Communion, not just Catholics. I got into an argument with another friend about it, as she encouraged another mutual non-Catholic friend attending to take Communion. Her argument to me was that the “old rules” didn’t apply and that they had been changed. Sadly, she taught religious ed to the children of the parish and was a teacher at that parish school. No wonder our children aren’t properly catechized these days.

  7. fr william says:

    Hermeneutic of Reform: “It” (often, though certainly not obligatorily, with a capital “I”) is the correct pronoun to use of our Lord’s Body and/or Blood. One never refers to the Sanctissimum [note the neuter ending] as “He/Him”.

  8. Hidden One says:

    As a Canuck Catholic, I just want a public apology, better training for Harper’s protocol officers (I mean, really!) and maybe Harper should… oh, wait, that was about to be politics, and we’re talking about sacrilege. I’m done.

  9. vox borealis says:

    Harper should have know better, but at the same time, should not the people distributing communion have known who the prime minister was? Shouldn’t someone have gone over this ahead of time to ensure smooth “choreography” and make sure there were no embarrassing moments, which is precisely what happened?

    Jack, you wrote:

    I wonder if Obama will receive Communion

    No way–Obama is far too slick. If anything, he’ll make a big show of “respecting” Church rules on communion, perhaps commenting later on how he always used to receive blessings from Cardinal Bernadin when he was a community organizer in Chicago, blah-blah-blah.

  10. SD says:

    Did anyone notice that the priest was an archbishop? He was wearing a pallium. It seems unlikely to me that he didn’t know who the prime minister is.

  11. As a Canadian who is both a “Catholic” and a “Conservative” who has voted for Stephen Harper, I am quite angry about this including the tabloid headline in the Toronto Star, “…ate the wafer.”

    Harper should have known better and so should have his staff. As a former political staffer federally and provincially, they should have briefed him. However, he has been in Ottawa for years and certainly knows many Catholics…his Chief of Staff is Catholic, and should have known. But it looks like he is uncomfortable in a ritual he is not totally familiar with.

    I really blame the Archbishop (yes, that is a pallium). Why don’t they announce this and then the PM and others would have known. But I agree with others, the Archbishop would be well aware that the Prime Minister is not Catholic and could have given him that dumb, ubiquitous blessing!

  12. Andrew, medievalist says:

    Ditto Vox Borealis. When world leaders are in town, clearly someone should do their homework.

    As wrong as this is, it’s interesting to note that Mr Harper’s brand of Christianity is more Catholic than some recent Quebecois ‘Catholic’ Prime Ministers. While he does maintain the artifical political/religious views divide, his personal views on issues of life and morality are generally thought to be closer to Catholic teaching than publicly dissenting Prime Ministers.

  13. Joan M says:

    I have watched the video five times, pausing it at times, so as to see – as clearly as possible – what might have happened.

    I saw the PM receive the host in his hand and then, still holding It, appear to slip it inside the program that was held in his left hand. As the bishop moved along, I saw his hand draw back from the program. Then the bishop passed in front of him, so we could not see what, if anything, happened at that moment. When he could, again, be seen, both of his hands were holding the program.

    Possibilities? He consumed it when the bishop was obscuring our view of him – but that was only about 2 seconds and there was no sign on his face that he might be chewing or swallowing; or he put It in his pocket, or inside the program; or he dropped it on the floor.

    Whatever he did, It was no longer in his hand. It is my opinion that he slid it into the program, since I do not think his hand was close enough to his pocket to do that. If that was the case, what happened It afterward?

  14. paul says:

    I think that if Communion were only received on the tongue- incidents like this would be far less likely to happen. Just my opinion. The bishops and priests are going to have to make it clear that Holy Communion is only to be given to Catholics.

  15. Andrew, medievalist says:

    Knowing that two wrongs don’t make a right…Canadian press reports are coming to the conclusion that Mr Harper consumed the Host, which the Speaker of the Senate, a Catholic, attests to witnessing.

    An interesting line from the Prime Minister’s Office however:”Who is the Prime Minister to question a priest offering him communion?”

    Indeed, what priest handed him the Blessed Sacrament? The pictures, and his wearing of the pallium during the Mass, strongly suggest that this was the Most Rev. Andre Richard, CSC, Archbishop of Moncton, appointed by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

  16. David says:

    Sadly, Prime Minister Harper is the best leader that the larger Canadian political parties presently have to offer (his Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada -historically supported by Catholics-, the New Democratic Party, separatist Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party).

    Unfortunately, the Christian Heritage Party of Canada is unable to give an option to voters in ALL federal ridings.

  17. Matthew says:

    This all took place about two hours from where I live. First, let me say that the Archdiocese in Moncton is perfectly liberal. Archbishop Richard still seems to think that Pope Paul Vi is Pope and the Beetles are still together, judging by his theology. He is reaping the rewards: he has been Archbishop since 2002, and in that time has yet to ordain a priest. He suffragan sees aren’t much better. In all of New Brunswick, only one prominent clergyman, Msgr. Brian Henneberry, Vicar General of the neighboring Diocese of Saint John, dared criticize the Prime Minister.

  18. Prof. Basto says:

    “Who is the Prime Minister to question a priest offering him communion?”

    If the PM did not consume the Host and simply trew It away, then it is a most grevious sacrilege.

    But the above question sure is relevant. Of course, the PM is not stupid, and everybody, even non-Catholics, are aware of the widely public Catholic doctrine reserving Holy Communion to Catholics only.

    That being said, it is surely the Priest who is the main guilty party. For, while the Canadian PM isn’t Catholic, the Priest (in this case a Metropolitan Archbishop), is, and is aware of the Church’s doctrine and of the Church’s canons, and probably is aware that the prime minister of the coutry is a non-Catholic. So it was up to the priest, Minister of Holy Communion, as steward of the Blessed Sacrament, to avoid that situation. And he failed. Also, he should have remained in place watching the communicant until the Most Holy Sacrament was consumed.

    Of course, this is only additional evidence of how Communion in the hand is an open door to sacrilege.

  19. Jeff M says:

    Nice single-handed snatch of the host. I guess he didn’t get the memo about making your hands “like a throne.” Of course, I see Catholics doing that as well…

  20. This is the reason I always make an announcement at weddings and funerals. And I keep a close eye on those who take a host and don’t know what they are doing. If they don’t receive, I go to them immediately and ask them if they are Catholic. If I get a blank stare, I take the host from them, and if they are Catholic, I tell them to receive immediately. This is our obligation as priests of the Church. We will be judged for allowing desecrations! Would a mother allow someone she does not know and may harm her baby hold it? Of course not!

    I once warned a priest about having Adoration when no one was present, he said “no one can hurt our Lord”. This is the slack attitude that has brought us to where we are. Well don’t you know, the Blessed Sacrament was desecrated, and it was his fault!

  21. Ceile De says:

    Even if Harper and the bishop made honest mistakes, why did the prime mininister’s spokesman put the blame on the bishop? Harper was offered Communion because he went up to the Altar for It. Any protestant at a Catholic service should know to stay seated during Communion. This is not rocket science.

  22. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    If memory serves, this is not the first Eucharistic scandal to come from the Dominion (where I happily lived for 3 years):

    Wasn’t Card. Ouellet of Quebec caught a few years back for giving Holy Communion–several times, in fact–to Canada’s non-Catholic Governor-General? When caught, however, he just said he wouldn’t do it again.

    Who is more to blame: PM Harper, who is not Catholic and mayn’t have known the protocol, or the Canadian priest, who is Catholic and surely knows that the PM is not.

    As the “heteropraxic” Bishop Chaput of Denver, Colo., would have joked: “I guess PM Harper received his First Holy Communion!”

  23. Phil Atley says:

    I’m sorry, but the blame in my view rests squarely with the Archbishop. Sure, whoever planned the ceremony messed up badly, but if this is a Metropolitan Archbishop, then the buck stops with him (or was this funeral held outside his province?). In any case, his feet need to be held to the fire. This is outrageous. The prime minister was clearly uncomfortable. Is it not probable that he simply expected to be passed over? Did the communicants actually come from their seats to a rail or were these dignitaries not rather in the first row of seats and the Minister of Communion came to them? If that’s the case, then I could fully understand his surprise and consternation at being presented with the Host.

    Yes, his protocol people should have anticipated this and dealt with it, but beyond them are the clerics who planned this.

    And if the Metropolitan Archbishop doesn’t recognize his own Prime Minister and doesn’t know he’s not a Catholic and doesn’t realize he ought not offer Communion to him, then the blame rests with him. Even given bad planning, unless the Archbishop simply didn’t care one way or the other about non-Catholics receiving Communion, then he ought not have extended the Host.

    That he didn’t recognize Harper or did not know he is not Catholic is simply not credible. Surely it was by planning and not accident that the Metropolitan was designated to bring Communion to the top dignitaries?

    This can only mean the Archbishop thought it a matter of indifference (perhaps even an act of generosity) to offer Communion to the Prime Minister.

    And that, it seems to me, is the true scandal here and the reason why the archbishop’s feet should be held to the fire.

  24. Sed says:

    An excommunicated married priest in Rochester NY received Communion in the row right next to the bishop during an installation Mass for a WOC activist as Pastoral Administrator.

    These abuses of the Blessed Sacrament are becoming far too common, and should not be tolerated. These people, both the married priest and the Prime Minister, are known personalities, there is simply no excuse for this to happen. All the blame is squarely on the one who administered Communion to these persons.

  25. ben says:

    I’m horrified. Nuff said.

  26. EJ says:

    Who the HECK was the Archbishop who administered the Most Holy Eucharist to the PM??? This is outrageous and very demoralizing… when will the Churchs OWN ministers going to stop these sacrileges? And we lament over the loss of belief in the Real Presence….

  27. Edward Martin says:

    I agree that it is the Archbishop who should shoulder most of the blame on this one. Should PM Harper known better, perhaps but it is not the given that many people here expect. I grew up an Anglican and prior to coming to the Faith I really did not know the significance of Communion.

    Certainly the Prime Minister’s handlers should have made the PM aware prior to attending the Funeral Mass. I am sure some heads will roll as a result. Perhaps even more so than the average politician he tends to react very unkindly to being embarrased.

  28. Jim Dorchak says:

    Wonderful thing comunion in the hand. Maybe we should do this through out the world.

    Oh I forgot, we already are.

    Jim Dorchak

  29. David the Deacon says:

    No this should not have happen. But i don’t understand why people make a big deal about it. Mistakes happen, believe me worse people have received communion. I rather see Harper receive communion them some of our Catholic PM’s. Blaming this person or that person won’t change what happened. Reading everyone’s negative comments about what goes on in the Church makes me wonder if anything good happens. Maybe many of us have become bitter watchdogs.

  30. fxr2 says:

    This is certainly makes the case for the reception of Holy Communion only kneeling and on the tongue. This practice excludes most protestants simply because they refuse to kneel. I don\’t believe many would spit out the blessed sacrament, and it would certainly be more easily observed.

    The Archbishop should know the Prime Minister by sight. I have never seen anyone receive Holy Communion with his right hand while holding a program in the other. In all charity, perhaps the Archbishop is legally blind and forgot his glasses.


  31. Matthew says:

    People are making a big deal out of it because sacrilege is a big deal. Mistakes do happen but this was so avoidable. As a Catholic in this diocese I can say that Priests under this Archbishop will say from time to time that Communion is for Catholics only. If the Archbishop said that (he was the Main Celebrant) just prior to Communion then this would NEVER have happened.

  32. Andrew says:

    Matthew W.I. Dunn: Just to set the record straight, that was NOT Cardinal Ouellet, but another archbishop (now retired).

  33. Mitchell NY says:

    Communion on the tongue….This would not have happened..What more needs to be said..I don’t buy the ignorance thing, and if so the Priest was way out of line….Please Holy Father, remove the indult for communion in the hand..

  34. Michael P says:

    Does the priest or deacon who knows this very prominent man, is not a Catholic, bear any responsibility for offering communion to him??

  35. Mike Morrow says:

    I appears to me that Prime Minister Harper was, in fact, unfamiliar with the entire proceedings, including the need to *not* get in the communion line. Thence, when an archbishop pointedly offers him the host, it is hard for me to blame the PM when he accepts (with some obvious surprise). It is likely that he thought it would be some sort of insult to not accept. Remember that Protestant “communion services” are treated as being strictly symbolic.

    The fault is 100 percent with the archbishop, unless he is as an earlier post suggested, visually impaired.

    Perhaps it was an honest mistake.

    Not such an honest mistake was that novus ordo “musical” caterwalling going on the the background. I thought my dad’s novus ordo funeral Mass was bad, but at least it didn’t have *that* going on! But that’s a different issue.

  36. Stephen says:

    Obviously he was confused because of the liturgical music

  37. Rancher says:

    Easily solved IF Priests instead of trying to be politically correct and “all inclusive” would do their jobs. Too often at Mass when it is likely non-Catholics are in attendance Priests will say NOTHING about communion. Or, they will say something to the effect that non-Catholics or Catholics not presently in communion with the Church may come up for a blessing.

    How about at such Masses (funerals and weddings in particular which attract non Catholics) Priests make it clear that at communion only Catholics presently in communion with the Church ought to present themselves for the Eucharist and everyone else should remain seated? Oh, I forgot–Priests can’t be so restrictive lest someone not like them.

  38. laurazim says:

    Kneeling, on the tongue. Kneeling, on the tongue. This should be our mantra. There would never be a question about it, were this the common practice. I see there are others here who think the same thing….

    (Stephen, that’s hilarious. I almost couldn’t see the video for cringing at the music, so it could be a viable theory…….)

  39. Dr. Eric says:

    I’m pretty sure that if we went back to kneeling and Communion on the tongue, that would be Catholic enough to keep the riff raff off of the Communion Rail.

  40. Timbot says:

    the state of the Western Church today reminds me of this: 2 MAccabees Book 6

    4 For the temple was full of the riot and revellings of the Gentiles: …And women thrust themselves of their accord into the holy places, and brought in things that were not lawful. 5 The altar also was filled with unlawful things, which were forbidden by the laws.

    6 And neither were the sabbaths kept, nor the solemn days of the fathers observed, neither did any man plainly profess himself to be a Jew. 7 But they were led by bitter constraint on the king’s birthday to the sacrifices… 12 Now I beseech those that shall read this book, that they be not shocked at these calamities, but that they consider the things that happened, not as being for the destruction, but for the correction of our nation. 13 For it is a token of great goodness when sinners are not suffered to go on in their ways for a long time, but are presently punished.

  41. Matt Q says:

    First of all, Mr Harper knew exactly what he was doing. Can’t claim ignorance there. Secondly, I detest that smart-@ass reply his slimy spokeshole gave, “Who is he to judge when once it’s offered to him?” He knew what he was doing. He’s the one who went up there in the first place. How dumb. Like he just happened to wander into the wrong line?

    = = = = =

    Michael P commented:

    “Does the priest or deacon who knows this very prominent man, is not a Catholic, bear any responsibility for offering communion to him??”



    = = = = =

    Rancher commented:

    “Easily solved IF Priests instead of trying to be politically correct and “all inclusive” would do their jobs. Too often at Mass when it is likely non-Catholics are in attendance Priests will say NOTHING about communion. Or, they will say something to the effect that non-Catholics or Catholics not presently in communion with the Church may come up for a blessing.

    How about at such Masses (funerals and weddings in particular which attract non-Catholics) Priests make it clear at Communion only Catholics presently in communion with the Church ought to present themselves for the Eucharist and everyone else should remain seated? Oh, I forgot—Priests can’t be so restrictive lest someone not like them.”


    True. Nothing more needs to to be said about that… oh, other than perhaps the priest doesn’t believe in the True Presence ( and thus doles out Communion right and left ). Yes, there are Catholic priests who really don’t.

  42. Kradcliffe says:

    The reason Catholics can’t receive communion without prior catechesis is that they won’t understand the significance of what they are doing. So, it follows that a non-Catholic cannot be expected to understand what they are doing if they receive Holy Communion. The onus falls on the Archbishop who gave it to him.

  43. Brendan says:

    I’ve watched it 7 times now. I had to turn the sound off after the second time. If I’m not mistaken, that song is “Here I am, Lord” in which the chorus bears a striking resemblance to the Brady Bunch theme song.

    It appears that the man before the PM receives Communion and then looks confused because he isn’t expecting the Prime Minister to receive. The Minister of Holy Communion (appears to be the metropolitan Archbishop) comes over to the Prime Minister, who smiles and looks like he is expecting a handshake. The Archbishop does not appear to say anything along the lines “the Body of Christ.” The Prime Minister then says “Thank You.”

  44. I am a Canadian Catholic, and I am horrified. And I will not be voting for
    the Conservatives as long as Harper is the head of the party. Whoever is to
    blame–Harper, Archbishop, MC, Harper’s etiquette coaches–this was a
    sacrilege plain and simple.

    Here is a find opportunity to prove in non-violent ways that Catholics, just
    as passionately as Muslims, are opposed to sacrilege and will not brook such
    cavalier treatment of the sacred.

  45. danh says:

    This is entirely in keeping with the Sacramental Sharing guide lines quietly endorsed by the Canadian Bishop’s conference. A pamphlet was issued along with a letter in my diocese(Saskatoon). I am aware of another diocese(Calgary) that has implemented this too.

    This protocol allows the reception of the Eucharist for baptized non-Catholics at weddings, funerals, and “other special occasions”. It also allows Confession and Anointing of the Sick on request. A person is supposed to consult the pastor first and there is a list of requirements and special considerations to be met. There are lengthy admonitions about taking this very seriously. The person is supposed to manifest the Catholic faith in the sacrament and have proper disposition (how can you without Confession?).

    HOWEVER, this whole system of careful reflection is bypassed by the idea of “Serious Spiritual Need” introduced in paragraph 8 and by paragraph 12 which states that,

    “…If such a person, however, approaches Communion without a prior meeting, he/she may be understood to be in serious spiritual need and to be requesting the Eucharist out of this need…”

    I was away the weekend this was presented. I would love to have a copy of the letter read out but cannot find one. My five adult children were thoroughly put out by the way it was presented. One said, “What is the point of being Catholic then?”

    Fr Z, if you wish a copy of the pamphlet, I could transcribe it for you. This guideline should maybe be taken to Rome for assessment???

  46. JohnTBissell says:

    and I know a Baptist who received under similar circumstances and was converted on the spot. Daily communicant now.

  47. “Daily communicant now.”

    Did he bother with instruction and being received formally into the Church?
    You left out that rather crucial information.

  48. Maureen says:

    I’ve got an idea. Let’s blame the system! :)

    Seriously, though, I think the way things were arranged was really the problem. If non-Catholics and those not disposed to receive at this time had been told to stay seated, or had been otherwise instructed in proper things to do, there would have been less chance of a problem.

    Similarly, if the Archbishop (no doubt rather occupied with overseeing all that was going on) could have been reasonably assured that everyone coming up was meant to be there, he wouldn’t have had the flustering choice to give someone Communion or not. Heck, he might not have even been looking at Harper’s face, and so may not have known who he was; and not every archbishop in the world has perfect vision and a memory for faces. (Or even perfect cognitive abilities at a certain hour of the day.)

    The point of having a system, with programs and announcers and masters of ceremonies and ushers and all, is to reduce the chance of having problems with the fundamentals of the sacred liturgy itself. Whether or not communion in the hand is part of the system, it’s fairly obvious that the non-sacramental bits of this system failed badly.

    And if you think Protestants would never ever join the communion rail line… oh, come on. Don’t you ever watch travel shows? Out of sheer peer pressure and unthinking tourism, there are tons of people every year who render acts of homage and worship to pagan gods while visiting Asian temples on tours. They don’t even think about it; they just follow the system and do what they’re told. Of course they only think it’s “for luck”, and would be horrified if you told them the local religious meaning of their acts.

  49. Vincenzo says:


    “Fr Z, if you wish a copy of the pamphlet, I could transcribe it for you. “

    Is this the pamphlet?:

  50. Allan says:

    As a Canadian, I think what happened is that Harper found himself in a line, decided it would be rude to refuse an “offering” being made to him by the AB, but realizing he wasn’t Catholic wasn’t sure what to do, so he took it away to think it through a bit or ask someone who said “just eat it already.”

    Sin requires knowledge and intent. If Harper did not know who the “wafer” was, then no sin attaches whatever he did with it.

    The fault here lies entirely with the Celebrant who risked profanation by distributing communion to a non-Catholic.

  51. mike says:

    It seems to me the problem is that the priest failed to even notice what he did with the Eucharist; there was little care or attention in his distribution of the sacrament. It’s not so much the PM’s fault, unless he has evil intentions, but more the priest. The priest should know the PM is not Catholic and care enough to have a watchful eye in distributing Communion. It’s also another reason to have Communion on the tongue – stuff like this would never happen.

  52. Why Harper was not briefed on how to behave at a religious service is beyond
    me. The average polite person does a little research or asks how he should
    behave at a religious service with which he is unfamiliar. I doubt Harper
    would march into a Canadian mosque wearing shoes. Whosever fault this was
    (Harper, his handlers, the MC, the pastor, the archbishop), there was a sacrilegious
    reception (or worse), and a very high profile one to boot. And now,
    of course, Catholic beliefs are once again held up for the scrutiny and
    mockery of the anti-Catholic press in Canada.

    As for the unthinking pagan offerings, whereas tour guides might be happy to
    have non-believers offer their pinch of incense, Catholics do not usually
    want non-believers to receive the Blessed Sacrament. But we have to be
    clearer on this. Meanwhile, we do realize that it is BAD for people to
    receive the Eucharist wrongly, right? St. Paul is quite clear on this, as
    are the prayers of the TLM.

  53. Me says:

    Perhaps everyone can make an act of reparation for what seems to be an intentional sacrilege, by faithfully receiving our Eucharistic King. Pray for the souls of all who were involved.

  54. Cel says:

    Most non Catholic Christians simply do not know to not receive. They have no understanding of what the Eucharist is. For them it is a symbol and to not eat or participate when at someone else’s house would be to insult them.

    That said, you would think a PM would have done at least a minimal amount of research here on protocol. He has a staff, it would not have taken long. But then, we live in a very impolite society and nobody bothers with or thinks about protocol anymore, at least with respect to religion.

    The best, most charitable thing to have done would have been for the archbishop or one of his staff to a PM or his staff, and explained the protocol before hand. Even if it had to be done during the liturgy of the word it would have been better.

    I am sure the Archbishop, seeing the PM extend his hand, simply didn’t want to embarrass. He did seem a little unsure at the end there. It is not a good excuse by any means though. Which is better, to embarrass your PM or to dishonor your King.

    Ultimately I think the greater blame has to go with the ministers. We can hope that other Christians would be better informed before showing up but we can’t really expect them to do something other than what they “think” is the most respectful.

  55. j says:

    The Honourable Noel A. Kinsella, the Speaker of the Senate of Canada (and a Roman Catholic) has issued a statement which says in part : “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.” The full text of Kinsella’s statement in both official languages may be seen, for example, at

    There is no reason to suppose that Kinsella is lying about this. It is, however, very troubling that he goes on to say that he was “pleased to see the Prime Minister of Canada express his solidarity and Communion with all those present in the sanctuary.” In any case, we can now be reasonably certain that the Prime Minister consumed the Sanctissimum.

  56. Mike Morrow says:

    As unfortunate as this obviously unintentional event was, I find it far, far, far more of an upsetting abomination that here in the U.S.A., many of the abortion-supporting members of the Congress and the BO administration deliberately receive communion each week (or as often as their publicity schedule allows), with the enthusiastic cooperation of their priests and bishops.

    This Canadian stumble doesn’t begin to compare!

  57. David Vandemore says:

    The ultimate responsibility lies with the Archbishop. He could have prevented this sacralige at any time prior, and up to the moment of the infraction

  58. danh says:


    Yes that is the one I have.

    I would dearly like to have a copy of the Apostolic letter that was read out at all homilies that Sunday by way of explanation. It is tough to critique only half the story, and somewhat unfair…

  59. Matthew says:

    Lost in all of this is the fact that the CURRENT Governor General of Canada, received Holy Communion as well. Now I did a google search to find out if she is a Catholic and there is no information as to what religious denomination, if any, she is. Can anybody provide any information about it?

  60. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Andrew wrote:

    Matthew W.I. Dunn: Just to set the record straight, that was NOT Cardinal Ouellet, but another archbishop (now retired).(/b)

    You’re absolutely right. My apologies to His Eminence, Card. Ouellet.

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