Sunday, November 17, 2002

Blind man to be ordained priest in Canada.

Rev. Devine has memorized the words of the Mass, preaches mostly from memory, and can print out braille versions of the prayers and Scripture readings. But when parishioners come forward to receive communion, he cannot see them or what he is offering them.His solution is to recruit a helper who can squeeze his wrist to alert him when a communicant has arrived in front of the altar, and to invite parishioners to guide his hand as they drink from the chalice and receive the host.One of the reasons given in the pre-1983 version of canon law for prohibiting blind men from celebrating Mass was the danger they would not be able to do so safely or with dignity. And Rev. Devine is concerned about the possibility of spilling the consecrated hosts and wine, which Catholics believe are the actual body and blood of Christ. "I don't want to be fumbling. It would be scandalous or sacrilegious to spill it." But he is confident it won't be a problem. "I have the ability, and I have practised enough to be confident," he said.

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