Wednesday 15 September 2004

Haley Waldman's mother is wrong.

Well, this is certainly interesting.

An 8-year-old girl who suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot consume wheat has had her first Holy Communion declared invalid because the wafer contained none, violating Catholic doctrine.

Now, Haley Waldman's mother is pushing the Diocese of Trenton and the Vatican to make an exception, saying the girl's condition — celiac sprue disease — should not exclude her from participating in the sacrament, in which Roman Catholics eat consecrated wheat-based wafers to commemorate the last supper of Jesus Christ before his crucifixion.

"In my mind, I think they must not understand celiac," said Elizabeth Pelly-Waldman, 30. "It's just not a viable option. How does it corrupt the tradition of the Last Supper? It's just rice versus wheat."

This is not the first time I've noticed that modern-day Catholics don't seem to have much faith in their own religion. How does it corrupt the tradition of the Last Supper? A devout Catholic needs to ask this? According to Catholic doctrine, Christ has granted his priests the power to perform a couple of miracles: they can turn wine into Christ's blood and they can turn bread into Christ's flesh. That's not a figure of speech or a merely symbolic act: when you take communion, you are drinking Christ's actual blood and eating his actual flesh. If you take communion with a rice wafer, you are drinking Christ's actual blood and eating a bit of rice. It's not just rice versus wheat: it's a substance that Catholic priests have the power to miraculously transform versus another substance that they can't.

"This is a church rule, not God's will, and it can easily be adjusted to meet the needs of the people, while staying true to the traditions of our faith," Pelly-Waldman said

No, it's not just some random rule; it is God's will. It's a miracle, an actual miracle. God has the power to perform any miracle; your priest doesn't. Your priest doesn't get to pick and choose which miracles God lets him perform; God decided two thousand years ago, and hasn't changed his mind yet. How comes I, an atheist, know all this, yet this supposedly devout Catholic doesn't? And she accuses the Church of not understanding the issue.

"I'm on a gluten-free diet because I can't have wheat, I could die," [Haley] said in an interview Wednesday.

Bit of an exaggeration there (though it's not her fault: the poor girl is repeating what her mother's told her). All the Church are saying is that there has to be at least some small trace of wheat in the wafer. Trace elements are not going to kill her; really small trace elements she'll hardly even notice.

And whatever happened to sacrifice? I thought the whole point of the story of Christ's suffering was to serve as some sort of example. Indeed, many Christians have taken the story perhaps a little too much to heart, submitting themselves to torture, death, slavery, and genocide for their faith. Self-sacrifice is something you can overdo, but the basic premise is a good one, I reckon. Elizabeth Pelly-Waldman, however, is teaching her daughter that her faith — which, to a devout Catholic, should be the single most important thing in her life — isn't worth any mild discomfort. Doesn't the Church teach Christianity any more?


Anonymous said...

But hang on a minute: if it transubstantiates, then it's not wheat any more, it's flesh. And thus gluten-free. So why can't she go ahead and eat the normal wafer?
Anyone else reminded of the Bishop's death in "V for Vendetta"?

Squander Two said...

Oo, good point, Anonymous. See? Modern Christians have so little faith.

Anonymous said...

hi. this is haley waldman. fuck you for talking about my mom.

Squander Two said...

Hi, Haley.

Surely the reason your mother decided to talk to the media about your problem was in order to get people talking about it. She succeeded.

Hope your digestion's OK.