Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Should Know Better

We are ill-served by our media, even those parts of it with a reputation for accuracy and objectivity.
This morning the Today programme described welfare obsessive Frank Field MP as "on the left".
I don't know what 'left' that would be. Maybe he 'dresses to the left'.
If Frank Field is on the left, then it's a miracle that I haven't been locked up as a dangerous revolutionary intent on the overthrow of the British state.

Meanwhile, yesterday's Guardian carried a report that the Vatican has called on the Catholic laity throughout the world to atone for sexual abuse by their priests. (Why the blameless laity should have to do this was not explained. I thought sinners had to atone for their sins, not the innocent nor the victims).
This global repentance is to take the form of the perpetual adoration of the Eucharist. The reporter said: "this would involve parishioners taking turns to keep a round-the-clock vigil in front of a consecrated host representing the body of Jesus."
No. In Catholic doctrine the consecrated host IS the body of Jesus. This doctrine was one of the points of divergence between Catholicism and Protestantism at the Reformation. It's in Protestantism that the wafer and wine are representative or symbolic. In Catholicism they actually become the body and blood of Christ. 'Not in appearance but in substance' was the bogus 'scientific' explanation given to generations of Catholic children.

It's true that most Catholics in the West (indeed all the Catholics I've asked) don't actually believe this, just as most don't accept Catholic teaching on contraception and probably a majority today don't accept Catholic teaching on homosexuality. Why they remain members of the church is almost a greater mystery than Eucharistic transubstantiation.
But when the consecrated host is exposed on the altar on certain occasions, older or 'fundamentalist' Catholics will fall to their knees, avert their eyes and even beat their breasts.
When I was a child, many older Irish men who only came into the church for the consecration (because that counts as attendance at Mass) would kneel at the back of the church and engage in an awesome histrionic display as the host was held aloft, punching themselves hard in the chest, sweat pouring down their faces. I used to wonder what heinous crimes they had committed and decided I had no need to emulate them because the worst I'd done that week was lie to my mother about having done my homework and done the Tony Hancock mime in the playground : Toe, Knee, Hand, Cock.

Oh well, at least the faux pas wasn't by the Guardian's religious affairs correspondent. But even so, John Hooper in Rome, you really should know your transubstantiation from your symbolism. Nip into the Vatican, hang your head and beat your chest and recite C.P. Scott's 'facts are sacred' fifty times.


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