Legal question: is it a crime to walk out with a communion wafer received during a mass.

Could any of the Law Talking guys or gals out there settle a dispute which has come up in this thread?

Basically it amounts to a disagreement over whether or not a person whoreceives a communion wafer during a catholic mass is committing a crime if he takes it out of the church without eating it. Specifically can it be charged as “theft?” I personally think the suggestion of criminality is absurd. It’s rude, maybe, but the wafer was freely given to them. It’s theirs. It’s not a crime.

Those who disagree are trying to argue based on some kind of theory of “fraud,” that the wafer was received “under false pretenses,” etc.

Can any of our resident lawyers give us a definitive answer on this? Thank you?

IANAL. Consider this hypothetical: I complain to a friend that I am poor and cannot afford a car. If I had a car, I’d get a job. My friend gives me a car. I sell said car for X-Box money.

Have I committed a crime? The situation seems analagous (no written agreement, implied consent, etc) and I don’t see a crime there.

If there is a crime, I think it must be embezzlement. The person taking the wafer clearly has lawful possession of the wafer. The only question in my mind is who owns the wafer: does the church/diocese/parish own the wafer after possession has passed from the priest or minister? Because, if ownership has also passed, then it’s not even embezzlement.

From the other thread, here are the three statutes cited.

  1. Canada:
  1. Texas:
  1. New York:

Nope. No crime. You might lose a friend, though.

Crime in New York.

If a store gives me a sample cracker to try to see if I like it, and I put the cracker in my pocket instead and leave the premises, have I stolen that cracker?
If the church really believes that what they are giving is the body and blood of Christ, how can they claim to own it at all?

Does the store require, as a condition of receiving the cracker, that you try it on the spot? Will store employees forbid you to leave the store with their cracker, so that the only way you can do so is to sneak it?

What the Church believes is the mystical essence of the host is not relevant.

Cite for any legal requirement to eat a communion wafer on the spot? The person receiving it has made no such promise.

Can we please get some lawyers in on this?

Where exists the contract, either written or verbal, that can be presented in a court of law that states that the communion wafer must be eaten on site once handed over?

I am a lawyer. Albeit not a criminal lawyer.

There is no need for a “contract”. By presenting yourself for the mass, to are making an implied representation that you are (a) a baptised Catholic and (b) intend to take communion.

See for example the NY statute:

Emphasis added.

Arguing from the point of view that it is a crime, the person receiving the wafer should know that, in order to receive the eucharist, they should be a member of the Catholic Church, and that act of going the the altar to receive the eucharist would be taken by the priest or minister to be a nonverbal representation that they are such a member. And, if the person were such a member, they ought to be familiar with the Catholic Church’s rules on how the eucharist is to be dealt with. So there is some fraudulent misrepresentation going on for them to receive the wafer.

Simulpost! :smiley:

So it would be against the law to take Communion under false pretenses?

Cite? By what statute? This is a Catholic expectation, not a law, and not something that non-catholics would necessarily be expected to know or agree to without being told.

I cited the statutes already. You hand-waived them off.

Cite that a non-catholic would know or agree to any of this, or that he has any legal contract to eat the wafer?

The issue is the taking of property under false pretences.

They’re not applicable. You’re trying to claim fraud, but you haven’t shown that palming a communion wafer is fraud, or that such a person has any legal agreement or contract with the curch or that such a pesron even knows that these “rules” exist under Catholic doctrine.