From the Telegraph-Journal, via babble. From my point of view, this is pretty minor compared to Harper's real sins; however, from the point of view of right-wing Catholics, it could come as a bit of a shock. Looking at this issue in isolation I could have some sympathy for him; he may well have meant no offense and simply not known the protocol. But heck, even I know that non-Catholics aren't supposed to take the cookie, and I'm not Prime Minister, nor even one of his advisors. You'd think someone would have briefed him about it.
A senior New Brunswick Roman Catholic priest is demanding the Prime Minister's Office explain what happened to the sacramental communion wafer Stephen Harper was given at Roméo LeBlanc's funeral mass.
During communion at the solemn and dignified service held last Friday in Memramcook for the former governor general, the prime minister slipped the thin wafer that Catholics call "the host" into his jacket pocket.
In Catholic understanding, the host - once consecrated by a priest for the Eucharist - becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is crucial that the small wafer be consumed when it is received.
Monsignor Brian Henneberry, vicar general and chancellor in the Diocese of Saint John, wants to know whether the prime minister consumed the host and, if not, what happened to it.
If Harper accepted the host but did not consume it, "it's worse than a faux pas, it's a scandal from the Catholic point of view," he said.
Henneberry said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office is in order.
"If I were the prime minister, I would at least offer an explanation to say no offence was meant, and then (clarifying) what happened to the consecrated host is in order," he said. "I would hope the Prime Minister's Office would have enough respect for the Catholic Church and for faith in general to make clear whatever happened."
On Friday, during the mass, Harper reached out with his right hand and accepted the wafer from a priest.
A television camera lingered long enough to show New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Herménégilde Chiasson, the next person to receive the host, raise his to his mouth.
But the tape shows that Harper does not consume the wafer before the camera cuts away several seconds later.
If Harper was unclear about what was appropriate during the funeral mass, said Henneberry, it "would say to me it's time to get new protocol people."
Then again, maybe he really did palm the wafer instead of eating it, perhaps as a result of reading this.