In a statement released yesterday following the “disrespectful treatment” of the Eucharist by Deborah Formal, girlfriend of Costa Rican presidential candidate Otto Guevara, the local archbishop clarified that the despite the offensiveness of the act, it did not constitute a sacrilege.
Instead of consuming the Eucharist at a Sunday Mass last weekend attended by the country's presidential candidates, Formal placed a small piece of the consecrated host inside the shirt pocket of Guevara.
Formal explained her actions saying, “Upon receiving Communion I asked the archbishop if I could share the blessing with Otto. I misunderstood what he said to me and I tried to do something that would allow Otto to carry a part of God in his heart.”
“It was never my intention to disrespect the Catholic Church,” she said.
Archbishop Hugo Barrantes Urena of San Jose released a statement noting that while Formal’s action was “disrespectful,” it was not a sacrilege, which 2120 of the Catechism defines as “profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God.”
The catechism continues, “Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.”
After priests were notified of Formal's actions, the statement indicated, they “asked Mr. Guevara to return the piece of the consecrated host he was carrying, and he returned it. It was then consumed immediately by one of the concelebrating priests.”
The archbishop also pointed out that “canon 1367 of the Code of Canon Law states that 'one who throws away the consecrated species,' or 'takes them away or keeps them' commits the crime of sacrilege.”
This was not the case, he reassured the Costa Ricans, “so no sacrilege took place.”
Costa Ricans went on to elect Laura Chinchilla as the country's first female president.