Some readers may remember my post on the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation where it is believed that during the communion service, the wafer and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus. I took that idea to its logical conclusion and argued that if true it could be used to clone god.

I also wrote about the huge ruckus that a college student in Florida caused when he did not immediately consume the communion wafer and instead tried to take it back with him to his seat. He got into a scuffle with a woman who wanted him to return it and the student was threatened with violence, comparisons were made to a hostage taking, and there were threats to break into his dorm room and rescue the wafer being held ‘hostage’ by him.

The university even sent in armed guards to be present at future services to prevent any more hostages being taken. The Catholic diocese also sent in a team of nuns as added protection for the wafers, though no mention was made as to whether they too were packing heat.

Well, it turns out that when the Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper recently attended a memorial service in a Catholic church for a deceased dignitary, he may committed the same religious offense as the college student. Watch and see for yourself.

I can guess what happened. Non-Catholics are not supposed to receive communion in the Catholic Church. The prime minister is a Protestant and probably realized at the last minute, when he was in a line where everyone was about to be given the wafer by the priest, that he did not know what the proper protocol was to deal with it. Eating it may have been sacrilegious and refusing it or giving it back might have been seen as rude. As a non-Catholic he realized he was in danger of committing a religious faux pas and poor sap, like all politicians faced with a tricky decision, he decided to punt. He probably felt that the safe thing to do was to put it in his pocket and deal with it later, not realizing that what he did was worse than the other options. As one news report on what is being called Wafergate says:

[T]he handling of the host is no trivial matter. As a non-Catholic, the prime minister should probably have refused communion, and church officials should have been advised of this in advance. But once the communion wafer, considered the body of Jesus, was in the prime minister’s hand, it should have been consumed promptly or returned.

Of course, what he should have done when he was called on this was to admit that he had pocketed the wafer out of uncertainty about what to do and simply returned it. Even very religious people realize that their Byzantine rules are not understood by outsiders and would have forgiven him. But again, Harper’s political instincts to never admit a mistake kicked in and he denied pocketing it, deciding to brazen it out.

So he either still has the wafer or he has destroyed it in some way and removed the evidence. There is no word on whether the Mounties or an elite swat team of nuns are going to try and stage a rescue of the hostage wafer from the pockets of this infidel.

The were fears that the allegations that Harper pocketed the wafer may have caused some embarrassment for him when he later went to meet with the Pope.

If I were Harper’s advisor, I would have suggested that he give the Pope the pocketed wafer and say that he took it because he wanted to give the Pope a special gift, something with more meaning than a typical head of state gift like a painting or vase or an iPod. What could be more special to the Pope than getting a piece of the body of Christ?

POST SCRIPT: The real rulers

Government of Goldman-Sachs, by Goldman-Sachs, and for Goldman-Sachs.

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