Church Times: Canadian priest repents of canine communion

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Anglican church in Canada has caused an outcry after a dog was given holy communion. The Revd Marguerite Rea gave a consecrated wafer to an Alsatian-cross breed named Trapper, at St Peter’s, Toronto, last month.

It was the first time the dog and his owner, Donald Keith, had attended a service there. The Bishop of York Scarborough, the Rt Revd Patrick Yu, who oversees St Peter’s, emphasised that it was against the policy of the Anglican Church of Canada. “I can see why people would be offended. It is a strange and shocking thing, and I have never heard of it happening before.”

He said he believed Ms Rea was overcome by “a misguided gesture of welcoming”. He has received assurances from her that it will never happen again. The matter was now closed, he said, as “we are, after all, in the forgiveness-and-repair business.”

On Sunday, Ms Rea apologised for her action, which had been a “simple act of reaching out”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

15 Comments
Posted July 29, 2010 at 8:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. deaconjohn25 wrote:

That a clergyperson spontaneously did this, and a parish official saw nothing wrong with it, and almost all the congregation gave overall approval, says a lot about the lack of a state of simple reverence for the Lord’s Supper and communion in that parish. Apparently it was just another one of those “feel good” moments.

July 29, 8:30 pm | [comment link]
2. DonGander wrote:

All of us do stupid things - but most of us seldom use THAT for an excuse.

Don

July 29, 9:49 pm | [comment link]
3. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

She should be a bishop in TEc if the AcC is inadequate to the task.  Check with Frank, first of course.  Then Kate.  Then nomination, approval, and first class citizenship in TEcKommunion.  She should be fast-tracked.  Look for her in the nominations for PB of the TEc.

July 29, 10:27 pm | [comment link]
4. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Sorry, but with only a few exceptions the Anglican Church of Canada has been, um, going to the dogs for a long time.

This is the church, two of whose priests almost 30 years ago told me adultery was not wrong if I did not feel guilty about it. I reached out for accountability ... and I got utter bullshit.

July 29, 10:35 pm | [comment link]
5. Larry Morse wrote:

You just can’t make stuff like this up. She would have done better if she had used a sausage dipped in bacon fat. Larry

July 29, 11:38 pm | [comment link]
6. Ed McNeill wrote:

Stupidity is as Stupidity does.  There is no excuse for this apart from stupidity or Stupid training from the Diocese of Toronto.

Ed McNeill+
Trinity 8T1, Not an MDiv Thank God!

July 30, 2:43 am | [comment link]
7. Ian+ wrote:

Reality Check: It wasn’t really the Body of Christ she gave to the dog since she, not being male, is not really a priest!
And Fr Ed (Trinity 8T1), I know you’re being kind by not being more specific. I don’t blame the Dio of TO for stupidity, but Wycliffe College, where she and I both graduated (the same year) for sacramental ignorance.

July 30, 6:51 am | [comment link]
8. palagious wrote:

The real question I ask myself in more reflective moments is my likelihood of accepting spiritual guidance provided by virtue of someone being “ordained” by the Church.  When I hear of clergy do something so ridiculous and beyond basic, recognizable Christianity, it really causes me to call into question standards of ordination.  How did this person become “ordained” to guide other people and just what kind of advice is being rendered.

July 30, 8:22 am | [comment link]
9. Terry Tee wrote:

This story shocked me when first posted, and indeed stayed with me for most of the day.  Like others, I was appalled by the churchwarden saying ‘no big deal’.  However, this gave way to an entirely appropriate humility.  I began to wonder how often I had received communion unworthily.  Perhaps I would never have said ‘no big deal’ but certainly at times I have been at the altar distractedly, absent-mindedly, even (Lord, have mercy) hurriedly or mechanically.  Let us hope, then, that when we say as Catholics Domine, non sum dignus or as Anglicans the Prayer of Humble Access, that the Lord hears our prayer and grants us his mercy.

July 30, 9:33 am | [comment link]
10. stjohnsrector wrote:

I am not sure if I am more offended that a dog was given Communion, or that the newspapers keep calling the Sacramental Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ a ‘consecrated wafer’.

July 30, 9:43 am | [comment link]
11. justinmartyr wrote:

I think that St Francis of Asisi would actually approve of the woman’s actions. He truly believed in the salvation of every creature.

July 30, 10:12 am | [comment link]
12. Uh Clint wrote:

Her use of the excuse that it was a “simple act of reaching out” is utterly void.  As Christians, we are called to reach out by preaching the Gospel of Christ - not by randomly handing out communion to people (and, in this case, a dog) in the hope that it will somehow spark within them some interest in Christianity.  It seems to me that Ms. Rea really has no idea whatsoever as to the true nature (and importance of proper use) of communion, which can be easily ascertained by a simple reading of 1 Corinthians 11:23-34.

This sounds to me much more like she did it hoping to be “cute” and/or “daringly inclusive”, much like some of the liturgical oddities that crop up in highly liberal parishes (dancing, puppets, readings from non-Christian religious books…....).  But it’s the reaction of the majority of parishioners that’s really frightening - their casual acceptance of giving communion to a dog shows how the problem is not one which originates in a single individual, but rather in a systematic movement away from traditional Christian thinking to new-age/modernist ideas which emphasize “me” rather than Christ.  It’s sad.

July 30, 10:28 am | [comment link]
13. evan miller wrote:

This is what comes from viewing Holy Communion as nothing more than a feel good expression of hospitality and inclusivity and a time of sharing.  Just a liturgical exercise in which nothing really happens.  After all, the bread is just bread, right?  Not a hint of reverence for the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord.

July 30, 11:11 am | [comment link]
14. DonGander wrote:

13. evan miller:

I totally agree with your sentiments but the striking thing to me is the conclusion of Jesus remarks on that very question:

Jhn 6:63         It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.

It is the dearth of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the man-made affair that must certainly grieve our Master.

Don

July 30, 11:24 am | [comment link]
15. Ed McNeill wrote:

7. Ian+

This is a bit low church even for Wycliffe.  My main intent here is not to blame the training, which I sure was adequate, but to simply say that “stupid is as stupid does”, meaning that our instantaneous responses say more about our understandings and attitudes than our careful actions. 

This Priest in her moment revealed her theology in her actions.  It is appalling.  Her Bishop should be asking how this action was even possible.  What in her training or theology opened the door to this possibility.  It is disturbing.

July 30, 12:58 pm | [comment link]
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