Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Damaging Damage Control

Jeff has a good rundown on Harper and the host. What I find fascinating is the response by the PMO, which has served to elevate the "scandal":
"It's totally absurd," the prime minister's press secretary, Dimitri Soudas, said. "The priest offered the host to the prime minister, the prime minister accepted the host and he consumed it."

"The story today alleges he put it in his pocket and did not consume it which is false. It's totally absurd and ridiculous."

There's nothing worse than damage control which actually causes further damage. What Soudas has done with this obvious fabrication, is demand further clarification. Making such a clear assertion, that Harper did consume the host, when the video clearly shows he did NO SUCH THING does the PM no favors:

As a recovered Catholic, I've seen people at funerals unsure what to do with communion. It can be awkward, and it's not reasonable to expect non-Catholics to understand the nuances of mass. As an aside, my childhood friend and I were "fired" as altar boys because of hunger pangs prior to mass. The bowl of little round bread bits was very inviting- the priest was not amused to say the least, but I felt very "godly" afterwards, either that or it was acute "host" gas.

Anyways, I'm prepared to cut Harper some slack on host protocol, apart from a criticism directed to his handlers who should have foreseen any potential awkward moment. However, with the stance of Soudras we now have a situation of apparent dishonesty, political considerations trying to mask the obvious visual. Will the PMO cling to this apparent disconnect, has Soudras painted the PM into a embarrassing corner? I want to know what happened to the host- in the garbage, in the wash, etc? You want to see outrage, tell people he consumed only to see a video where he did no such thing.

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind... ~Hosea 8:7



northwestern_lad said...

I bet that at some point we are going to see an attempt at a re-definition of "consume" by the Conservatives.

Old School Liberal said...

1. PM Martin and many others have been very publicly denied communion or there has been very public debate about whether they should be because of their beliefs in equal marriage and a woman's right to choose. Harper would be very aware of this. He can't claim ignorance.

2. Harper would have been to many Orthodox or Roman Catholic services before this and would know the rites of the Church. He can't claim ignorance.

3. The fact that he bends forward, reaches out to get the host, then cups and/or pockets it instead of consuming it shows he knows the importance of the host but as an evangelical can't consume. He can't claim ignorance.

4. Even if he was ignorant, or made a mistake, in religious terms, he still committed a sacrilege. Once consecrated, the wafer is consider to be the body of Christ, not a representation as you know, and so no PMO spin will suffice here. Harper needs to explain and apologize. And do so before he meets the Pope on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Nudging the guy next in line Harper was heard to say, "what did you get, white meat or dark? wanna trade?

√Čric said...

This is really a stupid "scandal" made legitimate because the PMO wasn't willing to say "just a mistake by a non-Catholic, sorry." Everyone would have understood that and it would have been dropped.

I still think the blame goes to the priest who should be aware enough to know that the PM is not Catholic. This wasn't Joe Schmo who attended a funeral, it was the PM.

I also still think Harper was motioning to shake the priest's hand, not take a host. If that is the case, I don't know what Harper could've done other than what he did. Make a little scene where he says no to a priest already in the process of giving him a host? That would have made the news as well.

This tempest in a teapot is a little too much for me.

Steve V said...

"This is really a stupid "scandal" made legitimate because the PMO wasn't willing to say "just a mistake by a non-Catholic, sorry." Everyone would have understood that and it would have been dropped."

That's the only relevant aspect here. If the PMO just admitted a mistake, all would be FORGIVEN. Instead, we get this electoral calculation response, which looks like pure bull. What they've done, instead of simply being forthcoming, is elevate and morph this "issue" into something else entirely. This kneejerk response, to never admit any fault, continually trips up this government, and they don't seem to get it.

Old School Liberal said...

With regards to whether or not this is a big deal, what does Orthodox and Roman Catholic teaching tell us:

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"Real sacrilege

Real sacrilege is the irreverent treatment of sacred things as distinguished from places and persons. This can happen first of all by the administration or reception of the sacraments (or in the case of the Holy Eucharist by celebration) in the state of mortal sin, as also by advertently doing any of those things invalidly. Indeed deliberate and notable irreverence towards the Holy Eucharist is reputed to be the worst of all sacrileges. Likewise conscious maltreatment of sacred pictures or relics or perversion of Holy Scripture or sacred vessels to unhallowed uses, and finally, the usurpation or diverting of property (whether movable or immovable) intended for the maintenance of the clergy or serving for the ornamentation of the church to other uses, constitute real sacrileges. Sometimes the guilt of sacrilege may be incurred by omitting what is required for the proper administration of the sacraments or celebration of the sacrifice, as for example, if one were to say Mass without the sacred vestments."

From Code of Canon (Latin Rite Code canon 1367; Eastern Rite Code canon 1442):
"As Christians believe Jesus to be true God and true man, his body and blood in the form of the consecrated host are adored in the Catholic Church. Theft, sale, or use of the hose for a profane purpose is considered a grave sin and sacrilege."

So it was, from a Roman Catholic perspective, a sacrilege. I can't see how he didn't know exactly what he was doing since he took it but did not eat it. But whether he made a mistake or not, it is still a deeply religious mistake and one deserving of a personal and immediate apology by the Prime Minister for that reason alone.

Remember, this is the party that jumps up and down claiming that merely asking someone about their scientific views on evolution is an insult to their religion.

And the good thing is that it is all so easily remedied by Harper stating: ooops, sorry, my mistake, religion is important and we all need to respect each other's religion, I'll know better next time. Then it would be done.

I'm not holding my breath.

Old School Liberal said...

"I still think the blame goes to the priest."

"I also still think Harper was motioning to shake the priest's hand, not take a host

Oh COME ON. That is the worst kool-aid, pass the buck, spin on this I have heard yet.

Blame it on the priest??? Harper is the one that went up after the priest invited Catholics up, Harper is the one who reaches over to receive the host before he is even done with the GG and her husband, Harper is the one that pocketed the host, Harper is the one who is silent to this day.

As for reaching to shake his hand?? Be serious. The priest has the host in one hand and the cup in the other. Harper is not reaching out with outstretched hand, he cups his hand to receive the host.

Lame lame lame lame.

Constant Vigilance said...

I am not religious so please forgive my ignorance on the protocol but is this correct?

"Harper is the one that went up after the priest invited Catholics up" - In that the priest invites people up to take the communion?

If so, does this not imply that:

1.Harper went up for the photo-op the communion represented,
2.knowing he would have to accept the wafer
3. But with forethought know he would not consume it?

That means this was no mistake. I might be an atheist but I could not imagine being so disrespectful towards other people's beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think we're witnessing a miracle. The host simply vanishes in the presence of the true God. (I am mildly worried about lightning about now).

Seriously, though, I can't think of a better, more concise example of just why Harper - and his entire entourage - disturb me so much. How can you fumble this situation, and why oh why would you respond with further digging? It is the astounding number of incidents like this - most on serious government files that require serious and honest attention - that create this sinking sense that it's all just a dazzling show to them.

They think they can pull pull it off if they keep the lighting just right, and shove enemies and friends off stage who don't smile at the right time. They think maybe they'll get rave reviews if they can just shovel a few dollars in the right critics' pockets at the optimum time. Who cares that the city outside is crumbling, that the environment is rotting, and that people inside and outside the theatre are starting to snicker.

"The lights, the lights . . . they're just so pretty and intoxicating. Can't we just keep dancing? Why won't you like us, you lazy coven of pedophiles?"

Steve V said...

It looks like Harper went to shake the priest's hand, but he gave him the sacrament. If that's the case, then Harper probably didn't know what to do. Fair enough! That, however, makes this fantasy presentation all the more offensive.

BTW, Harper seems to have a thing for protocols. Thought he was the Queen last week, now this.

Steve V said...

"that create this sinking sense that it's all just a dazzling show to them."

Bingo my friend. It's all optics, and within these considerations, they miss the most basic common sense responses. Catholics won't abandon you PMO, if you just admit a simple error. They'll abandon you, if you are purposely deceptive and calculating. It's just plain weird, how they consistently respond.

Ted Betts said...

OK, so let's check the scorecard so far.

Whenever a Conservative gets bad press:

6. Claim this is no big deal, an invented story - check

5. Say this is the result of hypocritical Liberal spin - check

4. Say this is the result of liberal-biased media - check

3. Blame it on someone else - check (the priest)

2. If it still won't go away, fire a staffer - pending?

1. If it still won't go away, start talking about the sponsorship scandal, promises to cancel the GST, Shawinigate, HRDC boondoggle, the NEP and Pierre Elliott Trudeau - No sign yet

So we are currently at DefCon (i.e. Defend Conservatives) 3, and holding.

Mike said...

Harper attends a Missionary Alliance Church here in Ottawa. The practise there is take the waffer (and its actually a cracker at the MA church) and eat it at your seat after everyone else has one, and the congregation eats in unison. So it is possible that Harper made an honest mistake.

But that does not excuse Soudas lying about it. I saw the video and I'm pretty sure I saw him put it in his pocket.

If Harper had simply refused it, as he can do even in his own church, then no one would have noticed.

If Soudas had simply admitted the mistake, then this would be a non-story.

Instead, in typical CPC fashion, they lied in order to try to save face and deny reality.

Less than Harper's behaviour though is my other concern amongst some of his supporters. When PZ Meyers did the exact same thing, it was a moral outrage amongst conservatives on both sides of the border - it showed intolerance to Catholics and insult to Christians. It was enough to get Meyers death threats and to arouse the wrath of the likes of Bill Donohoe of the Catholic League.

And yet many of the same folks on the BT and elsewhere that were outraged at Meyers are the same ones poo-pooing this as a "non story" or as a simple mistake by Harper.

I guess its true - IOKIYAC...

Steve V said...

"So it is possible that Harper made an honest mistake."

An honest mistake merely require honest admissions. Soudass, and by extension Harper, have made a story out of nothing. Nice work.

uranowski said...

The hosts you consumed were not-consecrated yet and therefore were not the body of Christ.

Steve V said...

He was still really pissed though ;)

ottlib said...

"This kneejerk response, to never admit any fault, continually trips up this government, and they don't seem to get it."

And I hope they never do.

JimmE said...

just in case you think this is trivial (as a believer I DO NOT!) More good publicity here:

Tim said...

That day you swiped the hosts you and your friend must have either been really hungry, or they were of a far tastier composition than the ones they had when I was a kid back in the '70s. I never liked the taste of those things.

RuralSandi said...

I'm not a Catholic and even I know that forgiveness is a Catholic doctrine - all Harper has to do was whisper to the priest that he was not Catholic and ask advice....then an apology - then forgiveness.

But, but, but - Harper's never wrong, never apologizes unless there's a vote involved and blames everyone else. Hmmmm....the priest will get blamed?

Anonymous said...

Ah, Sandi, they already beat you to it. Saw suggestions today that it was the priest's fault for giving Harper the communion. He apparently was supposed to drop the chalice and shake hands when Stephen reached out.

Apparently the priest's actions were not cleared through the PMO and he'll be ex-communicated shortly, or at least the alter boy "responsible for the body of Christ" will be.

(Ok, I admit I added that last flourish ;) but the first paragraph is valid)

J Dot said...

Is Noal Kinsella a Liar too..

"I would like to state that I personally witnessed Prime Minister Harper consume the host "

As a Conservative supprter, I hope you people keep running with this. Please do, pretty please...

Steve V said...

"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."

Too bad he didn't have the same view as the video. BEHIND. Harper didn't consume anything after he received it, and that's as clear as day.

Steve V said...

Maybe the tape is doctored ;)

Steve V said...

" I never liked the taste of those things."

They were VERY dry and tasteless really. We were just buggers. It was the beginning of my "black sheep" journey ;)

RuralSandi said...

Come to think of it, I think the priest should be blamed.

I'm coming out of the closet. I'm not going to be a heathen Liberal anymore. Bye everyone!

Jerry Prager said...

As a non-Catholic who has nonetheless taken commmunion in a Catholic Church because I was in communion with the belief, I find it utterly ridiculous that any man of Harper's age and public experience could not have known what to do when invited to share the Eucharist, are we to believe this is the first Catholic mass the man ever attended, either officially or unofficially.
It's Harper's arrogance and indifference to any thought or feeling that doesn't emanate from him personally.

Old School Liberal said...

Actually, the PMO made it very clear and explicit yesterday that this was most certainly NOT Harper's first Catholic service.

I think they were thinking that admission made things better and not worse.

Steve V said...

"I find it utterly ridiculous that any man of Harper's age and public experience could not have known what to do when invited to share the Eucharist"

Especially, when he supposedly leads a party receptive to the religious right. I'll tell you one thing, Harper sure as shit was told what to do at all those Jewish ceremonies he frequents

blaffergassted said...

Hosea is correct.
There's an awful lot of wind here.