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Student Holds Eucharist Hostage

Webster Cook is a student at the University of Central Florida. He is also a top notch jerk.

Last week Cook attended a campus mass. At that mass, he attempted skulk back to his pew with a consecrated host. The extraordinary minister saw what he was doing and blocked his path until he put into his mouth. However, when he got back to his pew he removed the host. A lady from the Church saw what he done and attempted to get the host back from him by trying to pry his hand open. Cook now claims he is a victim.

[WFTV] "She came up behind me, grabbed my wrist with her right hand, with her left hand grabbed my fingers and was trying to pry them open to get the Eucharist out of my hand," Cook said, adding she wouldn't immediately take her hands off him despite several requests.
...
"The church feels that I'm the problem here," Cook said. "The problem is actually that this is a publicly-funded religious institution. Through student government here, we fund them through an activity and service, so they're receiving student money."
So now this smug jerk is holding the Eucharist he stole hostage until he gets an apology.
Cook said he'd consider returning the Eucharist if he gets an apology and a meeting with the Bishop's office to discuss the Diocese's policy on physical force.
I am trying very hard to respond to this reprehensible situation as Christ would have us. I admit I am finding it very difficult. Father Miguel Gonzales is doing better.
"It is hurtful," said Father Migeul Gonzalez with the Diocese. "Imagine if they kidnapped somebody and you make a plea for that individual to please return that loved one to the family."

Gonzalez said the Diocese is willing to meet with Cook and help him understand the importance of the Eucharist in hopes of him returning it. The Diocese is dispatching a nun to UCF's campus to oversee the next mass, protect the Eucharist and in hopes Cook will return it...

"We have to make acts of reparation," Gonzalez said. "The whole community is going to turn to prayer. We'll ask the Lord for pardon, forgiveness, peace, not only for the whole community affected by it, but also for [Cook], we offer prayers for him as well."
I think prayers are a good idea. However, if prayers don't work, a good drubbing might a reasonable alternative.

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45 comments:

matthew archbold said...

Road trip! Who's up for it?
Subvet's probably halfway there already.

Matilda said...

The Diocese is dispatching a nun to UCF's campus to oversee the next mass, protect the Eucharist...

The visual this line created in my head just cracked me up. I'm sorry. Serious situation, I know. I sure hope they send one who's built like a linebacker and not Sister Sunshine.

Voice in the Crowd said...

Here is a Webster Cook's e-mail address at the University of Central Florida listed on their Web site:

sga_ba1@mail.ucf.edu

It has him as a professor in the Business Department. It is probably "daddy". Webster Jr. is probably getting a free ride.

Can you imagine him bringing up he has rights with public funds when he might not be paying a dime to go there?

I will e-mail Webster Sr. and ask if he is related. We will give him the benefit of the doubt until I hear.

Matilda said...

My husband wants to know if she's an albino nun?

Voice in the Crowd said...

Here's the deal. The above e-mail is real Webster Cook's e-mail. It was listed under the business department because he is the student government representative of this department.

Everyone should copy Webster
sga_ba1@mail.ucf.edu
and e-mail the president of the college:
Dr. John Hitt jhitt@mail.ucf.edu

Stating their extreme displeasure with this Anti-Catholic display.

Eo Nomine said...

In other news, Secularism has attained the status of a "religion of peace," according to several prominent spokesmen for the United Nations. Islam is the only other belief system to receive such an honor.

Youth marched through the streets of Paris, proclaiming the creation of a new society based on "principles of nationalism, citizenship, and inalienable rights."

One of the participants of the demonstration commented: "What we are trying to do is unite people around the values of liberty, equality, and fraternity. In other words, we feel that the Church, and society because it is based on such old-fashioned concepts as 'objective' morality, has been restraining people from doing whatever they want. The powers that be...are not letting us be licentious enough! I hope we can change that."

Some, however, are not as receptive to the new religion of peace. Critics have gone so far as to call it a "Reign of Terror."

Mr. Robespierre thinks this is foolishness: "People want revolution without revolution, and this is nonesense! Sure, a lot of people are afraid, yeah, but none of us are afraid, and by 'us' I mean those with me. So you could not really call it a 'Reign of Terror.' Sure, we have had a few public executions, but the guillotine is new, quick and humane. Besides, folks love watching it do its work."

Most of the American founding fathers could not be reached for comment, though Mr. Washington expressed extreme disapproval of what he calls the "excesses" of this new religion of peace.

A spokesmen for the House of Dead American Government Heroes said: "You know, a lot of the founding fathers do not approve of this new religion of peace. They have seen what it has done before, and are not looking forward to history being repeated...unless of course it involves the American people resurrecting them from the dead, and letting them restore the United States to her original vision (a lot of them have expressed regret over not placing more restrictions on the supreme court). They just do not appreciate Secularism's disdain for other religions. They say that society should be built on Judeo-Christian values, and they are upset about other people trying to put words in their mouths to the contrary."

Regardless of people's opinions though, Secularism is really catching on. Its central tenet, complete separation of church and state (except for Secularism, in which case there must be a bridge between church and state), has gained wide acceptance.

Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, commented: "I am very hopeful about the change this new religion of peace will bring." When asked about the massive body counts accumulated over the past century, Obama replied: "By coming together, we can overcome the tragedies of our past."

Marx will be holding a concert in Moscow, to benefit the new religion of peace and the GLBT Association of the People's New Republic (not to be confused with the Old Republic, the collapse of which sadly resulted in collateral damage amounting to the liquidation of 200 million individual social units). Marx commented: "The history of western civilization is marred by one religion striking out against another one. But if our religion retires all the others, then that cannot happen anymore."

Mao, also present at the conference, said: "I heard about this kid who stole a host from a Catholic church and held it hostage. It brings to mind those Muslims who blew up the Buddha statues on the silk roads. I think that by imitating their example, by removing sacred objects from our society, we can achieve a higher level of openness and diversity. Intimidation is a very effective way of opening minds and ending debate. State funding should not go to any religions, except for ours."

When asked whether Secularism will herald in an everlasting reign of peace and prosperity, chairman Mao replied: "Believe it, or be liberated."

David said...

I say we send these nuns to deal with the situation

http://danielsparks.com/images/nuns2.jpg

Phllip said...

I am sending an email to Cook and the President. Then I will contact the Catholic league. We cant let him get away with this.

A Voice in the Crowd said...

Here is the President of UCF response to my e-mail stating my outrage. He got back to me quickly.

I am vacationing outside Florida with my children and grand children, and have not had an opportunity to discuss this matter with staff, but have seen a press account and had the benefit of an email from our student judicial officer.

Rest assured that the university takes this matter very seriously and is working with the Catholic diocese to assure that university rules of conduct and Florida statutes are upheld. The Catholic campus ministry is a vibrant and respective part of university life.

John C. Hitt President, UCF

We will see.

David L Alexander said...

voice in the crowd:

I think you can safely assume this will be dealt with. Unless it's in the Diocese of St Petersburg, the local bishop will handle it appropriately.

eo nomine:

Huh???

Phillip said...

I emailed both President John Hitt and Webster Cook. Cook has not responded, but here is Hitt's reply:

The university takes this matter very seriously. It is being dealt with by our student judicial officer.

Catholic campus ministry is a vibrant part our university community. Our staff are working with the Catholic diocese and will make every effort to see that our student conduct code and Florida statutes are observed.

John C. Hitt
President, UCF

Perfectae Caritatis said...

When the administration cares about resolving something they get involved personally and get things done quickly. The Catholic League is good at putting that kind of pressure on people.

Chris said...

For more people to contact:

Dr. Terry Hickey - Provost & Executive Vice President
thickey@mail.ucf.edu

Dr. J. Edward Neighbor - Vice Provost, Academic Affairs
neighbor@mail.ucf.edu

Dr. Elliot Vittes - Assoc. Dean/Director, Academic Services
Office of Undergraduate Studies
vittes@mail.ucf.edu

Dr. John F. Schell - Vice Provost, Academic Affairs
schell@mail.ucf.edu

Dr. Doan Modianos - Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs
dmodiano@mail.ucf.edu

Ms. Lynn Gonzalez - Assistant Vice President, Academic Affairs
lgonzale@mail.ucf.edu

Dr. Thomas L. Keon - Dean, College of Business Administration
tkeon@bus.ucf.edu

Dr. Beth Barnes - Vice President and Chief of Staff
Office of the President
bbarnes@mail.ucf.edu

Dr. Randall Brumfield - Director, Undergrad Student Services
Business Undergrad Programs & Student Support
College of Business Administration
randallb@mail.ucf.edu

Dr. Nancy L. Marshall - Assistant Chief of Staff
Office of the President
nmarshal@mail.ucf.edu

Ms. Dana Juntunen - Associate Director
Office of Student Conduct
djuntune@mail.ucf.edu

Dr. Kerry Welch - Director
Office of Student Involvement
kpwelch@mail.ucf.edu

Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar -
Dean of Undergraduate Studies
aims@mail.ucf.edu

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Catholic Church and its clergy understand that when it accepts unrepentant adulterers, who have unjustly divorced their lawfaul, valid spouses, and does not punish them with excommunications but rather welcomes them with open arms even as they steal everything from that abandoned spouse, that its act of "harboring these fugitives" is little different than this "hijacking" of a Eucharist.

Of course for someone to say such as this they must be a madman. But that is not so.

I feel little moved by the "revulsion" of all these "superficial Catholics", who although they properly view the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ, apparently do not even give a second thought to the real violations that divorce means, especially to those abandoned and to innocent children.

I hope these violations continue and they significantly worsen against the Catholic Church, which has its priorities completely disheveled, until the hierarchy acts to defend marriages, which their own system violates.

Godspeed, Mr. Cook, just be reverent with your "hostage" and do not mistreat it, however, those you offend, need to be offended for their own lack of concern for those who are, on a daily basis, presecuted for their beliefs in the sanctity of marriage.

The Catholic Church is due for this persecution, but not for the reasons which Mr. Cook seems to espouse.


A former Catholic

Amy Giglio said...

Former Catholic,

You paint the readers and writers of this blog with a very wide brush.

I am sorry that you have been hurt personally by someone in the Church, clergy, lay, whomever. You are obviously in pain and felt that leaving the Church was your only recourse in a situation that was highly emotionally charged.

However, to say that Jesus deserves to be kidnapped and to wish ill upon the Church for your personal experience is absurd.

Pray for the courage to forgive those who have hurt you so deeply. Pray for them. Seek the Lord's face. This path of anger and hate is a prison you have locked yourself in and the evil one has helped you forge the bars.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for picking this up.

Saw it on the morning news.

Prayed a Rosary for his enlightnment, and more importantly, a Divine Mercy Chaplet, in reparation for what he did to Our Savior.

It's time like this I think of the apparition of Our lady of La Salette, ..."If my people do not obey, I shall be compelled to loose my Son's arm. It is so heavy I can no longer restrain it. How long have I suffered for you!"

WhollyRoamin'Catholic said...

Would you like to send him a message on his facebook account? http://www.facebook.com/s.php?q=webster+cook+ucf

Send him an email? mailto:sga_ba1@mail.ucf.edu

Telephone him? (727) 543-1249

WhollyRoamin'Catholic said...

A sample email:
*****
Dear Dr. Hitt,

I am writing you to express my sincere dismay with a student at the University of Central Florida. I’m sure you’ve already received a fair amount of email on the subject of Webster Cook. Futher, I’m sure that you understand that this is a serious offence that must be addressed by the University in light of the “Golden Rule” of conduct at UCF. Specifically: Rules of Conduct 2.F.3.a Disruptive Conduct; “An act that impairs, interferes with, or obstructs the orderly conduct, processes, and functions of the University or any part thereof.” Furthermore, his actions are a direct slap to the UFC creed tenets of Integrity, Community and Excellence—a creed that, no doubt, the University of Central Florida takes quite seriously.

Mr. Cook is no doubt a bright young man. He serves on Student Government and even started a student run newspaper. But his little stunt is a serious offence against his fellow students and other members of the UCF community and must be addressed by the university in an expeditious manner. It is nothing short of religious harassment, and no public academic institution should stand for such conduct.

Please find this email CC’d to Ms. Patricia MacKown, Director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, as per the instructions of the Office of Student Conduct rules section 2; “Alleged violations of the UCF Rules of Conduct shall be reported in writing to the Director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) or designee. The written complaint of violation of the UCF Rules of Conduct shall be made no later than six months following discovery of the alleged violation.”

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
*****

WhollyRoamin'Catholic said...

Dr. Hill sure responds quickly. I bet his blackberry is getting quite a workout while he is on vacation! Here is his reply:
*****
Thank you for your note Mr. Walberg. I have been told that Mr. Cook returned the consecrated Eucharist yesterday. The university takes this matter very seriously, and it is in the hands of our student judicial system.

John C. Hitt
President, UCF
*****

Anonymous said...

Can. 1367 A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.

DG said...

The matter's resolved now, at least the hostage-taking part: http://www.wftv.com/news/16806050/detail.html

LCB said...

"Cook said he still hopes to meet with the local Bishop to discuss prohibiting the use of force to recover the Eucharist. He also wants an apology."

He may soon find out that he is excommunicated, and that his excommunication may only be lifted by the Pope. To believe this young man was raised Catholic?!

Cook, I recommend using kayak.com for booking your flight to Rome. And let the Apostolic Penitentiary know you're en route.

LCB said...

Why this young man has not been charged under Florida's hate crime laws is beyond me.

Oh wait, it was against Catholics.

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0806/SEC13.HTM&Title=-%3E2006-%3ECh0806-%3ESection%2013#0806.13

Check out section (2)

WhollyRoamin'Catholic said...

lcb, that's an interesting link. As a matter of legal discourse, the "value" of the Eucharist is probably $0 since the Mass just "gives them away" if you know what I mean.

But given how liberally the term "hate crime" is applied, it should have some bearing here.

LCB said...

The statute is clear, "(2) Any person who willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or damages by any means any church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship, or any religious article contained therein, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083..."

It doesn't require monetary damage at all. A religious article contained therein was willfully and maliciously damaged by kidnapping Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is beyond all value (infact, it's the most valuable object in the world).

The maximum penalty is 5 years and $5,000 for a felony of the third degree. Give him a reduced sentence, 4 years 364 days and $4,999 in fines.

I can't seem to find the local prosecutor's office for Orlando, FL.

Brad said...

Actually it states very clearly that at the end of the link you sent that the third degree felony law only applies if, "if the damage to the property is greater than $200."

I'm sure that the physical value of the item taken is much less than $200.

Also, why is a public school using public funds to fund religious activities?

If you think public funds should go to support Catholic functions, should they also go to fund Buddhist and Islamic functions? What about a satanic ritual?

One other thing. To the devout Catholic, Mr. Webb took the body of Christ. However, if he's not Catholic, he took a cracker.

WhollyRoamin'Catholic said...

To Brad's questions, the public money probably goes to support "student groups". Indeed, that's the very point the Mr. Cook is trying to make, that this is not an appropriate thing to be spending money on.

As a matter of discourse, I think he's right. And here, the door swings both ways-- religious liberty also means freedom from government; this Catholic group shouldn't be taking government funds unless they're willing to get the usual public sector baggage that comes along with it.

However, Mr. Cook was also acting extremely inappropriately here-- with full knowledge that his actions would be VERY upsetting to people and (I'd argue) full intent to cause harm on some level or another.

That's just not cool.

You don't go to band rehearsals just so you can tear up valuable sheet music in front of the tuba section. And doing so might get your rear end kicked for being a jerk.

Brad said...

To amend my post and to agree with the Roamin' Catholic, you should NOT go to someone's home, mess with their things and not expect (deservedly) an issue.

However, I think felony charges, jail time, or other forms of punishment are far too harsh for his literal action.

If he is indeed a Catholic and the church thinks he should be ex-communicated, well that's not my place to weigh in, he offended the church, and the church can bring down whatever judgement it sees fit.

I believe though, that the city and state law would have to look at his literal action. He didn't graffiti the building, he didn't physically break anything. The most he did, in a legal sense, was steal something. He stole a quantity of one item. An item that is given away freely, so at that point how much theft is involved?

P.S.
Admittedly, if he's not Catholic he has no business going up there in the first place. I'm not Catholic, but if I go to a Catholic wedding, I wait respectfully for people to take Communion. I'm aware it's not meant for me.

LCB said...

Brad,

It concludes, "or s. 775.084, if the damage to the property is greater than $200."

s. 775.084 applies only if the damage to the property is greater than $200. The previous two sections apply generally. The key word is "OR."


Regardless of Mr. Cook's subjective belief about the Eucharist, it is the Body of Christ and the Real Presence regardless of Mr. Cook's beliefs or opinions. It is a matter of objective reality, not a matter of opinions "for Catholics."

In many places Universities provide small funding for religious student groups because they are "student organizations." The affiliation of the organization doesn't matter. To deny religious organizations funding that is available to all other student groups BECAUSE of their religious status would be... drumroll please...

a form of religious discrimination. That is why the Catholics, and the Buddhists, and any other group that so petitions and meets the general Student Organization criteria, receives funding. This funding is usually based on the level of student involvement in the group on campus.

LCB said...

As for criminal charges, hate crime laws are usually left vague precisely to permit persecution for a variety of offenses. I repeat the threshold appearing in the law (without checking LexisNexis for any caselaw)-- Cook willfully and maliciously defaced/injured/damaged by the means of taking a religious article. It doesn't say he has to UNDERSTAND the depth of what he did. Indeed, would a bigot understand the depth of letting a pig run free in a mosque? No, but they would still be prosecuted.

Refusal to prosecute this case is nothing les than institutionalized anti-Catholicism.

Anonymous said...

http://www.wftv.com/news/16806050/detail.html

Student returns the Holy Eucharist

Brian Walden said...

So this kid's whole argument is that he's upset that physical force was used against him (which apparently was a woman trying to pry his hands open)?

In a situation such as this, can we morally use a proportionate amount of force to prevent someone from committing such a sacrilegious act? I'm surprised that they didn't physically prevent him from leaving until the police could be summoned.

Cook's excuse that he wanted to show his friend the host doesn't add up. The article says he was raised Catholic. If he was a faithful Catholic he never would have thought of taking the host back to show his friend rather than consuming it immediately. If he wasn't a faithful Catholic and thought the Eucharist was just a piece of bread, then why didn't he just tell his friend to go up and receive communion himself. Plus, if he wanted to show his friend a host all he had to do was ask the priest after Mass if they could see an unconsecrated host. I'm sure the priest would have complied if Cook's friend was sincerely interested in Catholicism. Even if we try to believe Cook's story, if he had truly been acting with good yet very confused intentions to simply show his friend the host before consuming it he never would have reached the point of stealing it altogether no matter how badly he may have been treated.

matthew archbold said...

Wholly Roamin,
Great job staying on the story. Thanks.

New Timon said...

If government money going to religious groups violates religious liberty, wouldn't government money going to universities and schools violate free speech?

Snup said...

I have served as president and treasurer for various student groups at a large, public-funded university. At my university to get funds, the organization must follow specific guidelines and every cent must be accounted for. Addtionally, all activities must be open to all registered students.

For example, our Catholic campus ministry gets funds. Those funds can't be used for overt religious activities such as supporting the Mass. The university's funds can be used to hold game nights for students, having Thanksgiving dinner or other activities that fall within the funding guidelines.

In essence the religion part of the religious organization isn't supported by student activity money.

Snup said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James H said...

DOes he realize he has just excmmunicated himself. I just posted why and linke dyour site.

This is frackin unbelievable

Tony said...

Cook wrote:

"I am returning the Eucharist to you in response to the e-mails I have received from Catholics in the UCF community," Cook wrote in a letter to the church. "I still want the community to understand that the use physical force is wrong, especially when based on assumptions. However, I feel it is unnecessary to cause pain for those who are not at fault in this situation."


Dear Mr. Cook,

Many Saints over the ages have died protecting the Eucharist from desecration. Rest assured, Mr. Cook, had you been at my church when you committed your outrage, getting grabbed on the arm would have been the least of your worries.

I would happily have gone to jail for assaulting and battering you if that's what it took to protect the sacred species.

Tony said...

One other thing. To the devout Catholic, Mr. Webb took the body of Christ. However, if he's not Catholic, he took a cracker.

If I own a diamond, and you don't believe it's a diamond, it doesn't magically become a lump of coal.

The Eucharistic presence of our Lord and Savior is not nullified by your non-belief. You think far too highly of yourself, sir.

A Voice in the Crowd said...

Webster Cook's father posted a hostile post on my blog this AM.

It had the tone that his son was the victim. For the first time, through understanding where Webster came from, I felt sorry for Webster.

Adrienne said...

Tony wrote, "If I own a diamond, and you don't believe it's a diamond, it doesn't magically become a lump of coal."

True, but those of us who aren't Catholic could just as readily argue the reverse: you might believe that your lump of coal is really a diamond, but your sincere belief doesn't magically transform that lump of coal into anything other than a lump of coal.

It's issues like these that make me glad I'm no longer a believing Catholic.

That being said, I'm still glad the young man returned the consecrated host and cooled people's anger and anxiety over the issue.

This is just silly said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick Archbold said...

Dear Disgruntled Visitors,
You certainly have a right to your opinions, ill informed, venomous, or otherwise. However, you do not have the right to express your here without limit. Feel free to express your concerns here as long as you do it in a respectful manner. Disrespectful posts will be deleted summarily and we will this all be denied you superior intellects. That would be a shame.

Patrick Archbold said...

Since we can't follow rules...