Posted August 6, 2010 by The Underground Staff in Commentary and News

Anglican cleric forgiven for giving Communion to dog

An Anglican female priest in Canada apologized recently during her Sunday Service for giving communion to a dog–and she has been forgiven for her deed.

Last month Rev. Marguerite Rea was taken by surprise when Donald Keith, 56, a first timer to St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Toronto, walked up to communion accompanied by his dog Trapper, a German Shepherd-Rhodesian Ridgeback crossbreed, the Catholic News Agency said.

Ordinarily Keith and his dog stayed in the park outside the church, but this was the first time human and pet decided to enter. Rea welcomed both of them and then gave communion to Keith and his dog.

This spontaneous act was intended to welcome man and dog, and brought out a smile on the face of an old parishioner seated in front, American Chronicle said.

A lay official, Peggy Needham said, “I am sure for (Rea) that was a surprise, like it was for all of us. But nobody felt like it was a big deal, because it wasn’t a big deal,” North Jersey said.

Needham also said the man never asked if his dog could have communion. Instead Rea offered it on her own but did not give the dog any wine, North Jersey said.

Both the Catholic Church and Anglican Church have annual pet blessings, although they do not give communion to pets. The Calvary Episcopal Church in Massachusetts has a “Perfect Paws Pet Ministry” where churchgoers can bring their pets to service, American Chronicle said.

One former parishioner was offended by the act however, and has left the church. He also filed a complaint to Anglican Bishop Patrick Yu.

In her apology Rea said she was sorry to anyone who might have felt embarrassment or hurt by what she did and explained that she meant to welcome a stranger, CNA said.

Chancellor Cheryl Chang, Anglican Network in Canada was also unhappy with the gesture and said, “Communion to a dog is not something that will ever happen to our or any Bible-believing Christian church anywhere in the world,” according to CNA.

Keith, the owner of the dog said this had been his first time in a church and he thought the gesture was “very innocent.” He described the action as “small stuff” and was surprised by the controversy that it generated, CNA said.

Bishop Patrick Yu responded to the complaint letter filed by the former congregant saying “It is not the policy of the Anglican Church to give communion to animals.” He said the deed was both “strange and shocking,” North Jersey said.

However he also said he felt Rea “was overcome by what I consider a misguided gesture of welcoming,” and added, “We are, after all, in the forgiveness and repair business,” North Jersey said.