In an unprecedented victory for rationalism, Catholic priests in the north east of England will from today be required to read out a disclaimer prior to delivering the holy sacrament of Communion.
The Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead have issued the new regulations as a concession to secularists concerned by allegations that Creationism has been taught to students at Emmanuel City Technology College, a Gateshead academy school run by Peter Vardy’s Emmanuel Schools Foundation.
In passing byelaw 08/04 (section 01), the borough council has made it mandatory for Catholic priests to forewarn their congregations that transubstantiation – the idea that at communion the bread and wine become the literal body and blood of Christ – remains unsupported by solid empirical evidence.
Beginning with tonight’s evening masses, priests will be legally obliged to read out the disclaimer – the exact wording of which has been provided by the council – which reads as follows:
“Congregants should be aware of the gaps and/or problems in the Catholic theory of transubstantiation, including, but not limited to, the Protestant notion that the bread and wine are merely symbolic, the opinions of other religions on the life of Christ, and the lack of conclusive scientific evidence available to support this theory.”
Explaining the borough’s decision, Councilor Burt Blaydon (Con., Windynook), said: “The council feel it is important that borough residents realise that the Catholic version of Christianity is only a theory and not written in stone. This is not an attempt to cause offence, but equally we shouldn’t offend those members of the congregation who hold alternative views on the nature of bread and wine.”