By Deacon Keith A. Fournier
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
JENSEN BEACH, Fl. (Catholic Online) – A 33 yr old man from Connecticut named John Samuel Ricci is now in Police custody. His bond was set at $2,000 and he will stay in the Martin County Jail until he appears in Court on Dec. 11, 2008.
He attempted to steal consecrated communion hosts from the priest while he was standing in line to receive the Eucharist on Saturday, November 8, 2008 at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Jensen Beach, Florida.
Reports from the Martin County Sherriff’s Office indicate that he was cornered by six or seven parishioners who detained him until Police arrived at the Church. The priest and a parishioner were injured in the scuffle which ensued.
Ricci has been charged with battery, theft and disruption of a Church service. He was the last one in the line to receive the Eucharist at the Saturday Morning Mass. All of the other communicants had returned to the pews.
Carl Marszewski, 66, is a parishioner who was at the Holy Mass. He told a local reporter "Everyone else was on their way back to the pews to kneel and pray. I was approaching my pew across the church from where he was when it happened. I ran over there to stop him from running out with the communion."
Reports indicate that Ricci then cursed at Marszewski and 83-year-old Fr. James Malgano. Next he pushed them down. "It took six people to hold him down," Marszewski said. He suffered a heart attack in his valiant effort to protect the consecrated Eucharist.
As to why the man from Connecticut would attempt to steal the Body of Christ, the brave parishioner gave further insights, "He was seen on a camera we have here stealing something else from the altar two days earlier," he said. "There are so many reasons why he could have done this, especially with the issues of all of these different cults and covens that actually want to desecrate the offering to their god — the god of darkness."
Another member of the parish who was present indicated that when Ricci put the first consecrated host in his pocket, he was politely asked to put it into his mouth. He not only refused but actually threw the Body of the Lord on the floor. He then allegedly ranted about being a member of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church strongly condemns this desecration of the Body of the Lord as a sacrilege: “2120. Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. 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.”
The Code of Canon Law indicates that such an action excommunicates the offender “Can. 1367 One who throws away the consecrated species or, for a sacrilegious purpose, takes them away or keeps them, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See”
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