A young man comes into my office and tells me that last Sunday he stole a host at Mass and intends to flush it down the toilet. He will make video of the event and put it on Youtube.
I ask him why he wants to do this. He reels off all the usual anti-Catholic junk about oppression of women, same-sex marriage, blahblahblah, and proudly proclaims himself to be an atheist.
Rather than trying to persuade him that he is mistaken about God and the Church, I simply ask him if he understands that Catholics will see his stunt as an act of desecration. He says yes, that's why he is doing it. I ask him what he hopes to gain with the stunt. He wants to draw attention to the Church's medieval oppression blahblahblah. By flushing the host he claims he will symbolically flush the Church along with it.
I listen patiently and ask, "Do you believe that the host is the Body of Christ?" He says, "Of course not. That's not rational thinking." I explain the Church's understanding of the Eucharist and why it is important to us that the host be revered and not desecrated. He just giggles and shakes his head.
He leaves my office and proceeds to carry out his promise to flush the host and post the video on Youtube.
Now, what is the best public response that Catholics can make to this act?
Keep in mind:
He is seeking attention for his anti-Catholic whinings.
He doesn't believe that God exists.
He doesn't care that Catholics believe that the host is the Body of Christ.
He doesn't care that Catholics will be insulted/offended; in fact, he hopes we are.
This is not an argument about whether or not the host is still the Sacrament given his intentions.
My contention in the post below is that the sacramental status of the host is irrelevant to how we will respond publicly b/c Jesus can take care of himself. God doesn't need us to defend Him.* My suggestion that the bishops' conference issue a statement about the host no longer being the Sacrament b/c of the guy's evil intent clouded the issue. I should have known that the comments would focus on the issue of "when is the host Jesus and when isn't it." That was my dumb mistake.
The desecrator doesn't believe the host is Jesus, and he is going to flush it precisely because we believe it is. He is counting on us to rise up in indignation to defend the Sacrament by loudly denouncing him. We can't stop the desecration b/c it has already occurred. All we can do is choose how we will react publicly.
Here's my point: if we do what he expects us to do (emails, petitions, demands for the video to be removed, etc.), he wins. He gets what he wants. More views on his Youtube account. Angry, sputtering Catholics sending links over the internet. Primo PR for his kiddie tantrum. And how many (rightly) indignant and well-meaning Catholics are going to confirm the worst prejudices of anti-Catholic freaks by saying or writing something theologically dubious about the Eucharist? I've been told by more than one non-believing friend that Catholics have assured him that a host put under chemical analysis will yield human DNA! In fact, I was told once by a student that the Precious Blood can be blood-typed, but we dare not do it b/c it would test God.
Best approach: shrug it off; ignore the whole thing; pray fervently for the descerator; ask your pastor to celebrate a Mass of reparation, and let God defend Himself against atheist-wackos.
*Defending our statements about how we as human beings understand God is a different thing entirely.