Uproar In Canada over a Dogs’ Holy Communion

August 1st, 2010 By: Admin
A Canadian priest in Toronto caused a unholy uproar by doing the unthinkable, giving Holy Communion to a dog. Reverend Marguerite Rea of St Peter’s Anglican Church, in Toronto, received complaints from Christians all over Canada after she fed communion bread to a German Shepherd cross named Trapper.

Ms Rea said it had been a “simple church act of reaching out” to a new congregation member and his pet.  “If I have hurt, upset or embarrassed anyone, I apologise,” she told her congregation on Sunday morning, the Toronto Star reports.

The controversy began last month when four-year-old Trapper and his owner, Donald Keith, 56, attended the church in Toronto’s downtown area for the first time. “The minister welcomed me and said come up and take communion, and Trapper came up with me and the minister gave him communion as well,” Mr Keith told the Toronto Star.  “I thought it was a nice way to welcome me into the church. I thought it was acceptable. There was an old lady in the front just beaming when she saw this.”

Holy Communion Dog

But not all parishioners at the service were quite so charmed by the sight of the priest leaning down and placing a wafer on the wagging tongue of Trapper, a German Shepherd-Rhodesian ridgeback cross. Communion bread is considered by Anglicans to represent the body of Jesus Christ.

When news spread of the canine communion, St Peter’s Church began receiving e-mails from angry Christians all over the country.

“Communion is a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus’ body; he died for all of us. But I don’t recall anything from the scripture about Jesus dying for the salvation of our pets,” said Cheryl Chang, director of the Anglican Network in Canada, the National Post newspaper reports.

Mr Keith has since been told that he and his dog are most welcome at the church, but Trapper can no longer receive communion. “This has blown me away. The church is even getting e-mails from Catholics,” said the truck driver. “Ninety-nine-point-nine per cent of the people in the church love Trapper and the kids play with him. It was just one person who got his nose out of joint. “Holy smokes. We are living in the downtown core. This is small stuff. I thought it was innocent and it made me think of the Blessing of the Animals.”

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My response: Welcome to the world of fanaticism. When my husband and I hosted a Geezer Gala (a ’50s Sock Hop & Alzheimer’s fundraiser) and had a story run on us in the Catholic Spirit newspaper, the reporter warned us we might be boycotted based on the strong opinions of some parishioners that Alzheimer research must be stopped because of its involvement with stem cells. I about lost it! It truly is the vocal few who blow up issues so terribly for all of the more reasonable people out there.

I’m sorry this happened. As an animal chaplain who works with people to help them prepare for, cope with and move on after pet loss, as well as the author of “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” I would have applauded this priest’s inclusion of Trapper in his communion. I view all animals as our fellow creatures, not less than and not greater than us homo sapiens. I know they have souls, just as we do, thanks to afterlife connections I’ve had with both humans and animals who’ve died. The only difference is that animals are not in need of having their souls “saved” by intervention of any church. Only humans have the distinction of being able to purposefully sin. I really don’t understand why anyone would feel so threatened by this act of inclusion.

I will continue to perform nonsectarian animal blessings and be proud to be able to express my gratitude toward all animals for bringing so much joy into our lives. I may substitute kibble for holy wafers, though… —Sid

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