It seems we never stop hearing stories of people whose reason is overcome by their religious fervor. As usual, this happened in a place that many of us consider to be backwards and populated by people who just don’t think like us. This time , for example, it was Florida.
A UCF student claims he’s getting death threats for messing with something sacred.
Webster Cook says he smuggled a Eucharist, a small bread wafer that to Catholics symbolic of the Body of Christ after a priest blesses it, out of mass, didn’t eat it as he was supposed to do, but instead walked with it.
Catholics worldwide became furious.
Webster gave the wafer back, but the Catholic League, a national watchdog organization for Catholic rights claims that is not enough.
“We don’t know 100% what Mr. Cooks motivation was,” said Susan Fani a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese. “However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it.”
We just expect the University to take this seriously,” she added “To send a message to not just Mr. Cook but the whole community that this kind of really complete sacrilege will not be tolerated.”
Here’s a more complete version of the story:
Cook claims he planned to consume it, but first wanted to show it to a fellow student senator he brought to Mass who was curious about the Catholic faith.
“When I received the Eucharist, my intention was to bring it back to my seat to show him,” Cook said. “I took about three steps from the woman distributing the Eucharist and someone grabbed the inside of my elbow and blocked the path in front of me. At that point I put it in my mouth so they’d leave me alone and I went back to my seat and I removed it from my mouth.”
A church leader was watching, confronted Cook and tried to recover the sacred bread. Cook said she crossed the line and that’s why he brought it home with him.
“She came up behind me, grabbed my wrist with her right hand, with her left hand grabbed my fingers and was trying to pry them open to get the Eucharist out of my hand,” Cook said, adding she wouldn’t immediately take her hands off him despite several requests.
“It is hurtful,” said Father Migeul Gonzalez with the Diocese. “Imagine if they kidnapped somebody and you make a plea for that individual to please return that loved one to the family.”
Gonzalez said intentionally abusing the Eucharist is classified as a mortal sin in the Catholic church, the most severe possible. If it’s not returned, the community of faith will have to ask for forgiveness.
Those crazy Muslims and their wacky overreactions.
This post by P Z Myers at Pharyngula covers the story with humor. The comments are funny, too. For example:
By the way, this is the perfect news item for all catholics worldwide who don’t know what transubstantiation means (there are quite a lot) or how they are supposed to believe it (if they know what it is, they don’t realize it’s supposed to be literal–a.k.a. cannibalism), to scream collectively: W T F ? Do you mean we’re supposed to believe that?!
Yeah, instead of keeping it (safe), he should just have ate it, chewed it, and pooped it. That’s how you don’t abuse a cracker!
1) In the Middle Ages Jews were executed for allegedly ‘torturing the host.’ It was believed that Jews stole consecrated host wafers and tortured them, causing them to spurt blood in agony.
2) There are holy relics which are purported to be host wafers that turned into actual flesh. I know, the host is supposed to be flesh, but in these cases it was flesh in appearance as well.
3) The argument over whether or not the host is literally God is one of the main theological divisions between Catholicism and Protestantism for which countless people died in sectarian wars. In the presence of the host Catholics are worshiping it as God, not just as an icon that represents God.
Of course, the difference between the Christers and the Muslims here is that there’s actual historical record of Jews being lynched for host desecration. One of the many things the Reformation happened for was the belief that the Vatican was getting too soft on the horrible host-desecrating Christ-killers.
After all, the Catholic church does make tiny houses to keep unused but “transubstantiated” crackers in. Anyone heard of a tabernacle?
Postscript: This post wasn’t meant to make a mockery of Catholics, but to contrast the American media’s treatment of the Catholic community with its treatment of the Muslim community.