Being, Essence, And Substance in South Australia

Superficially it seems reasonable that if a Catholic priest gave Communion (or the Body of Christ, if you wish) to a dog, he should perhaps be relieved from active duty, as it were.

But the gentleman in question, Greg Reynolds, denies that he gave Communion to a dog. In a September 24 email to the National Catholic Reporter, Reynolds asserted: “I did not give a consecrated host to any dog or any animal and never would.” The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, called giving an animal holy Communion an “abomination” but did not directly accuse Reynolds of committing the abomination himself. According to The Age (6/8/12) website, “a first-time visitor arrived late at the Inclusive Catholics service in South Yarra with a large and well-trained German shepherd. When the consecrated bread and wine were passed around, the visitor took some bread and fed it to his dog.” The story also notes that the dog “was not offered the cup!”

Pope Francis signed off on the excommunication, which took effect September 18. Nevertheless, in his latest interview with La Repubblicca’s editor, Eugenio Scalfari, which made headline news because the Pope attacked “Vatican-centric” narcissistic thinking and called the papal court “the leprosy of the papacy,” Francis also said “a spark of divine light is within each of us….our species will end but the light of God will not end and at that point it will invade all souls.”

As ex-Father Reynolds commented to NCR, “something seems to have got lost in transit and translation. I would dearly love to know what was Pope Francis told.” Reynolds may or may not be thinking inclusively enough to say this, but I will: If our species will end–a novel remark from a pope, as far as I know–would it not be prudent to start giving as much consecrated host and wine to man’s best friends right away, before the human species does something even more imprudent and there’s nobody left but rats and roaches to eat the leftover wafers and lap up the fine Yarra Valley wine?

P.S. For a serious reflection on being, essence, and substance, please see the just translated 1950s Strasbourg lecture course by the late Paul Ricoeur, Being, Essence, and Substance in Plato and Aristotle. Spoiler alert: Ricoeur argues against a simple anithesis of Platonic essence and Aristotelian substance–it’s not that easy, gotta take the “long detour” to really “work out the ontological foundations of our western philosophy, so as to understand its intention by way of the history of its beginning.”

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