29 July 2009

The Power When Pressed

At the funeral of the late Canadian governor-general, Roméo LeBlanc, Prime Minister Stephen Harper received the communion wafer - known to Catholics as The Host, representing the body of Christ - and appears to have palmed it, rather than consuming it. To Catholics, this is scandalous, and it created a controversy at the time.

What Harper, a Protestant, was doing receiving communion is quite another matter. However, yesterday, the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal issued an apology for publishing the story, and its publisher stepped down:
James Irving, the scion of the Irving family who chose journalism over the traditional strongholds of oil refineries and pulp mills has left his position as publisher of the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal. This came as the newspaper offered an apology to Stephen Harper and two of its reporters for factual errors inserted into a story that accused the Prime Minister of pocketing a communion wafer at a funeral mass earlier this month for former governor-general Roméo LeBlanc. The apology, published on the front page of Tuesday's paper and on its website, said the wafer story was “inaccurate and should not have been published.”
Given that the Irving family owns lumber, ship building, oil and liquid natural gas refining, TV stations, and newspapers - most of which can be given quite a hard time by the federal government of the day - the fact that this apology and resignation came in response to a clearly embarrassing faux pas by the Prime Minister is perhaps a bigger scandal than the original scandal.

It is far easier and more palatable to excuse Prime Minister Harper his ignorance of religious protocol, or his discomfort with being in the wrong place - the communion line - at the wrong time (he seems to have a predilection for this, doesn't he?) than it is to believe that this recent publisher's mea culpa was freely given. Is it possible that political pressure was exerted to "correct" the record, effectively rewriting the history of the event in question? If so, it sets a very dangerous precedent and gives yet another indication of the true character of Stephen Harper.

Somehow, it seems to me that three Hail Marys and four Our Fathers won't quite cut it this time.

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1 comment:

Judi Piggott said...

Mr. Harper could look south to the recent Obama faux pas (potentially a more incendiary error than the confused Prime Minister's "mis-handling of the Host") and how that is being handled by the man himself.

A lesson in:
- coming clean,
- understanding consequences,
- taking responsibility,
- taking direct and immediate action, and
- differentiating his behaviour as a person from the intentions of a powerful political role.

AND thereby letting a mole hill remain a mole hill, regardless of how the wind(bag)s blow.

Step up, your kids are watching your example, too, Mr. Harper.