10 July 2008

Stealing The Eucharist

On 29 June 2008, Webster Cook admits that he removed the Eucharist from a Catholic Mass held on the University of Central Florida campus. He claims that he just wanted to show It to his non-Catholic friend who was attending the Mass with him, but decided to keep It after a church leader allegedly tried to pry the Eucharist from his hand.

"The church feels that I'm the problem here," Cook said. "The problem is actually that this is a publicly-funded religious institution. Through student government here, we fund them through an activity and service, so they're receiving student money."

Cook is upset more than $40,000 in student fees have been allocated to support religious organizations on campus for the 2008-2009 school year, according to student government records. He denied he is holding the Eucharist hostage to protest that support.

Regardless of the reason, the Diocese says its main concern is to get the Eucharist back so it can be taken care of properly and with respect. Cook has been keeping the Eucharist stored in a plastic bag since last Sunday.

Cook filed an abuse complaint with the UCF student council and stated that he would consider returning the Eucharist if he gets an apology and a meeting with the Bishop's office. Since then, Cook claims that he has received harassing messages and threats, and that was part of what led him to return the Eucharist to the church the following Sunday.

Cook said he just wanted to show the Eucharist to a friend he brought with questions about Catholicism before consuming it. But outraged Catholics across the globe didn’t believe him and suspected he intended all along to steal the Eucharist and bloggers sent out e-mail messages damning him to Hell.

"I am returning the Eucharist to you in response to the e-mails I have received from Catholics in the UCF community," Cook wrote in a letter to the church. "I still want the community to understand that the use physical force is wrong, especially when based on assumptions. However, I feel it is unnecessary to cause pain for those who are not at fault in this situation."

Cook said some threatened to break into his dorm room to rescue the Eucharist. Brinati said the Diocese of Orlando didn't condone those threats, but was happy Cook had a change of heart and returned it. [...]

Cook said he still hopes to meet with the local Bishop to discuss prohibiting the use of force to recover the Eucharist. He also wants an apology.

I personally think that Cook wanted to create a little publicity for himself with this stunt so that his disagreement over the use of student fees for religious organizations would be heard by a larger audience. He didn't count on this blowing-up in his face like it did, and now he is trying to play the victim after his own actions created the situation. Webster Cook, regardless of what he may claim, is not a victim here.

Webster Cook made the poor choice to steal the Holy Eucharist from a Catholic Mass. He could have ended this before it went any further by relinquishing the Real Presence of Christ while still in the church, but he chose not to. Webster Cook decided to escalate the situation to one of spiritual extortion by stating that he would consider returning the Eucharist if he was first granted a meeting with the Bishop and the opportunity to discuss how the Diocese deals with those who desecrate a Mass and the Eucharist.

I am glad that the Eucharist has finally been returned, and I hope that the Diocese does not make any apology to Cook or meet with Cook. Also, if he is a member of any parish, I hope that parish puts into motion a formal hearing for the excommunication of Cook. My understanding is that he is already excommunicated latae sententiae due to his actions, but I'd like to also see something more public and formal just to make the point.



deb said...

Good post. I wrote on the same thing today on my own blog. I guess that great minds really do think alike. LOL

Considering that Mr. Cook is a student, I wonder where his parents are? I would refuse to pay another dollar of my child's tution if they disrespected my faith in this manner.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

If I caught ANY of my students doing such a thing, they would not be able to surrvive anywhere Catholic on the planet.

Great post!

USMC 9971 said...


Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate the compliment.

In regards to your thoughts about his parents, an individual claiming to be Webster Cook's father has posted a couple of comments on a blog post about this situation at the Vive Christus Rex! blog. They should be read in context, so I'm not going repost them here.

In short summary, though, Cook's alleged father (I say alleged because I can neither confirm nor deny the identity of the poster) thinks that this is all blown out of proportion, and that, while what Webster did wasn't right, there is also fault on the side of those in the church. It does not appear that the belief that the Holy Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ was ever engrained in either father or son in the Cook household.

USMC 9971 said...


Thanks to you as well for stopping by, and also for the compliment.

While I don't have any students, I agree with you that if my daugher or any of my godchildren pulled a stunt like this, there would be hell to pay.