Professor Promising to Desecrate Eucharist

by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

A Minnesota professor has issued a call on his blog for consecrated Hosts, promising to “show you sacrilege, gladly and with much fanfare.”

Paul Zachary Myers, an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota at Morris, made the threat while commenting on a recent incident at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in which a student stole a consecrated Host from a June 29 Mass and held it hostage in a ziploc bag in his room for a week before returning it on July 6.

According to a report by the Catholic News Agency, the UCF student, Webster Cook, had presented himself at Mass for communion, then attempted to take the host back to his seat to show a curious friend. He was stopped on the way down the aisle, which made him put the Host in his mouth until he got back to his pew when he removed it. A scuffle ensued when a church leader tried to retrieve the Host, but Cook was able to flee.

Even though Cook filed a complaint with the UCF student court about his treatment during the Mass, other Catholic students also filed complaints about Cook’s actions. Several students also threatened to break into his room to retrieve the Host until he eventually decided to return it a week later.

This was the incident Professor Myers was criticizing in a derisive July 8 post on his science blog Pharyngula, hosted at He also solicited his readers to acquire consecrated Hosts.

“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” Myers wrote.

“…if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage… but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.”

Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, responded to the incident by suggesting that Myers’ remarks could be in violation of the university’s code of conduct, which requires faculty to be “respectful, fair and civil” when dealing with others. He also contacted the Minnesota legislature because the university is a state institution.

Professor Myers responded by going on a Houston radio show accusing Donohue of declaring a “fatwa” against him. However, Myers public relations stunt seems to have already backfired.

 “As a result of the hysteria that Myers’ ilk have promoted, at least one public official is taking it seriously,” Donohue said in a recent press release.

“Thomas E. Foley is chairman of Virginia’s First Congressional District Republican Committee, a delegate to the Republican National Convention and one of two Republican at large nominees for Virginia’s Electoral College. His concern is for the safety of Catholics attending this year’s Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, Myers’ backyard.

“Accordingly, Foley has asked the top GOP brass to provide additional security while in the Twin Cities so that Catholics can worship without fear of violence. Given the vitriol we have experienced for simply exercising our First Amendment right to freedom of speech, we support Foley’s request.”

The university has since removed the link to Myers blog from his faculty page.

“It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ,” Donohue said. “We look to those who have oversight responsibility to act quickly and decisively.”

To contact Robert H. Bruininks, president of the University of Minnesota, e-mail or call 612-626-1616. 


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