(For non-Commonwealth readers, Canada is a monarchy. However, we share our monarch with a bunch of other countries and she normally resides in a nice palace in London. A Governor General represents the Queen for official purposes in each of the Commonwealth monarchies, which also include Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and several others. When HM travels, someone is temporarily deputed to play a similar role in the UK while she's out of the country.)
Yes, it's against the rules for a non Roman Catholic to take Communion in a Roman Catholic mass. (Rome's rules, I note. While some protestant denominations may have rules about receiving the sacrament in other denominations, I don't know that the PM's Alliance Church does.)
Of course, the biggest problem in the event was that the incident was captured on amateur video and it APPEARS that the PM slipped the consecrated host into his pocket.
Frankly, a slanging match about the rules is simply silly. Arch-Romanists apart, whatever happened was clearly rooted in interdenominational misunderstanding and there is no reason to presume any mischievous intent. The priest should have realized the PM was not a Roman Catholic and shouldn't have offered the host. The PM should have politely declined. Nobody wanted to be seen as making a scene. It was a mistake.
The amount of newsprint, airtime and bandwwidth wasted on this story is a trifle bizarre.
More disturbing is the tone of some of the commentary.
Many "progressives" have used the event as an excuse to let loose a stream of vitriol mocking the Roman Catholic Church and their doctrine about the presence of Jesus in the elements of the Eucharist. Of course, it isn't just our Roman friends who believe that Jesus is present in the elements of the Eucharist. Although Orthodox and Anglicans decline to define how that works, belief in the Real Presence is normative for both.
I confess, I don't quite get the point of the hatespeech. How does it build up support for the progressive cause to insult the hundreds of thousands of progressives who happen also to be people of faith?
There used to be quite a long history of anti-Catholic bigotry in Canadian politics, from he bad old days of the Orange Order in southern Ontario in the late 1800s to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan on the Prairies in the 1930s, Roman Catholics were a frequent target for hatemongering rabblerousers.
Religious bigotry played a direct role in the Saskatchewan election of 1929, including the simply bizarre accusation that a Roman Catholic priest was directing the Speaker of the Legislature on how to rule on points of procedure.
I thought those days were behind us.
Those days ought to be behind us.
Apparently they're not.
(I am sticking to my practice of refusing to link to extremist websites. This is the first time I have had to apply that rule to a website of the secular left. Most disheartening.)
Here is just one example (from "Canadian Cynic"):
If you actually want sane people to take your idiotic ritual seriously, why not have the "wafer" magically appear out of the air each time? That would be wicked cool -- the sudden appearance of the mystical biscuit in the fingers of the priest just before he places it in someone's mouth. It might even convince me to give this Catholicism thing a try.
But if wafers come, not out of thin air, but out of mixing flour and water, then baking at 350F for 20 minutes, then they're not magical representations of the body of Jesus Christ, ready to be transmogrified into His actual flesh. They're crackers.