Sunday, 9 April 2017

"STRAIGHT" PP STOLE £50,000

FATHER JOHN REID

 Hayley Dixon. THE TELEGRAPH

A Roman Catholic priest who defrauded his parish of more than £50,000 and lavished thousands on his housekeeper and her daughters was living with "them as a family", a court heard.

Father John Reid, who was expected be living a simple, celibate, single life, fell in love with Gillian Leddy and was in fact splashing cash on oysters, wine and foreign travel for himself, her and her two daughters.

When the priest was replaced at St Cuthbert's Church, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, his successor found it was dirty and littered with alcohol bottles, Durham Crown Court heard.

He was spared jail when his 18-month jail term was suspended by the judge.

Jane Waugh, prosecuting, said concerns were raised by parishioners in January 2013 about how finances were being handled.

The priest, 69, had joined the parish in 2009 and accounts showed spending increased fourfold in some aspects, and doubled overall after he took over.

"In particular, there had been dramatic increases within the categories of General Administration, House Keeping and Hospitality," she said. "This would appear to be because Gillian, Alice and Veronica Leddy, who are mother and daughters and close friends of the defendant from his previous Parish at Willington, were effectively living at the presbytery and the defendant's expenditure increased to reflect the fact that he was helping to support them financially.

"This additional expenditure was claimed back from the Church, in expenses, by the defendant." When the priest was replaced temporarily, his successor said the presbytery was "in a terrible condition". Ms Waugh said: "It was dirty and untidy with large quantities of alcohol present.

"(His replacement) describes the presbytery as looking more like a family home than a presbytery. "There was female clothing in the bedrooms and it was apparent that females had been staying there."

Passports belonging to the Leddys were found alongside his in the safe. The priest appointed Veronica Leddy as co-signatory of the parish cheque book and he began running the church without a finance committee of parishioners.

The court heard that led to a split in the church, with some backing the priest and others angry at how he was running affairs.

Ms Waugh said: "The witness Nora McKie, a lifetime parishioner, stated that the defendant had a lifestyle not typical of any priest she had known, and that the reason she took action to highlight these serious concerns was to protect those people, who with total trust were giving money to the Church."

Parishioners became concerned about the priest asking for blank cheques to be signed off, with Fr Reid handing over "bags of receipts" without adequate information about what they referred to.

An investigation involving the Bishop of Newcastle was launched and auditors were brought in, highlighting serious concerns.

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Ms Waugh said there was evidence of "high living", contrary to Canon Law, yet he bought a £1,200 William Turner canteen of cutlery. He also accepted taking the Leddys out to eat "a few times a week".

Over the four years he was at St Cuthberts, Fr Reid's basic remuneration should have totalled £31,455. But he disbursed to himself more than £113,000 from parish cheques.

He wrote more than 150 cheques to himself, most of which were co-signed by Veronica Leddy.

Following the findings of the auditors a serious incident report was made to the Charity Commission by the diocese, and the matter referred to the police for a full investigation.

After he was removed from the post, sterling and euros totalling £2,349 were found in the safe. Fr Reid said this was "his holiday money".

Ms Waugh said: "The defendant was arrested in May 2014 at St Patrick's Presbytery, Stockton. "It appeared that the Defendant was virtually living as a family with Gillian Leddy and her daughters, Veronica and Alice."

During the inquiry, it emerged the priest gave property and money to the Leddys on a "large scale", buying two homes each for Veronica and Alice, a car each and financed a cafe business for them each.

He also gave them substantial amounts of cash each. But Ms Waugh said the money for these gifts came from an inheritance of the priest, not the result of fraud.

In an interview, the portly, white-haired priest said: "The Parish keeps me", and: "Ultimately, I'm in charge of it, so I can spend it."

Ms Waugh said "clearly his household accounts suggest that a family was being supported by the parish, not just a parish priest".

The priest told police he was in love with his housekeeper, Gillian Leddy, the court heard. Ms Waugh said the priest told officers that "Gillian and her daughters were the family that he never had".

The judge heard Fr Reid will pay the diocese £50,000 in full, plus £5,000 for the cost of the audit, within three months.

PAT SAYS:

The Westminster priest who alerted me to this story sent it to me with the headline:

"A STRAIGHT PRIEST! A RARE BIRD INDEED".

I can understand his surprise given that most of our recent scandals have been about gay bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians.

Of course the real heart of the story is about the administration / maladministration of church funds.

Money is a temptation to all regardless of gender or orientation.

The above article tells us that Father Reid's salary for FOUR YEARS should have been £31,455!!!

That's £7,863.75 per year or £151 per week!

Obviously he had other benefits as well?

But even at that £151 is by no means a fortune - especially if you want to have a girlfriend with two daughters.

This is another case of celibacy not working.

And another case someone being tempted by money - with the added complication of THREE WOMEN in your life.

The lessons?

1. All church funds should be overseen by a genuine finance committee which is properly audited.

2. Priests being afforded a living wage. The Bible does say: "The labourer is worthy of his hire".


The Minimum National Living Wage in the UK from 1.4.2017 is £15,600 for a 40 hour week.


REPUBLIC OF IRELAND:

Minimum Wage for 40 hour week: Euro 17,992

Living Wage for 40 hour week:    Euro 23,816

71 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this Bishop Pat. While it is a sad story and no one has the right to judge, it is in the public domain now and for those priests in England and Wales who avidly follow your blog its good to see you include us too. I know one English bishop who said he was just glad that there coverage in the media about a Catholic priest that was involving women and money, and "not the usual." What a sad reflection of where we have gotten too. Oh by the way, you have many followers in England and Wales.

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  2. Ok - how much and what property do have in the Philippines?

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    1. I do not own any property anywhere in the world.

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  3. And its nobody's bloody business if you do Pat.

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  4. I understand that the priest concerned was a member of a religious order, the Augustinians? So he took a vow of poverty, unlike diocesan priests who do not.

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    1. Well as the old saying goes, "Religious take the vow of poverty and Diocesan priests live it".

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  5. MourneManMichael9 April 2017 at 10:01

    Agree wholeheartedly with your lessons above. While I've no objection to parishoners making extra donations of their own free will to their local priest, the need to have parish funds properly and independently overseen is an absolute must. I've heard far too many stories in the past of parish funds being misused with no-one daring question an autocratic PP. Back in those days it was seen as a right for many diocesan clerics to wine and dine in expensive establishments while many parishoners with large families to look after continued donating to maintain those clerics on a social pedestal.
    Things are changing, and the sooner the better.
    MMM

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  6. My thoughts-: Firstly why did the Church have to go to the courts for this. I suspect it very well could have been dealt with in house.
    Secondly, had tighter rules for all handling of money been in place he would not have been tempted. Any organisation where cash is king, scrupulous accounting is essential. Unfortunately accounting in the Church is so loose and free, that it in encourages such behaviour, but those at the top that spend the most don't want things to change.
    Thirdly to name the woman and especially her children was, I believe unfair.
    Lastly, it is ironical that priests found to be abusing children, are not sent to the courts, but are moved and the victims paid off. This parish priest has been made to pay back his debts, I wonder how many of the child abusers have been asked to repay the money that the Catholic Church paid
    out to their victims.

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    1. 'Could have been dealt with in house'? Which, of course, is cryptic for 'could have been covered up'.

      Under the court's ruling, this hypocrite has been ordered to pay £55,000; the 'Church' (those parishioners from whom he repeatedly stole) is unlikely to receive little (if any) of this money. But at least the public now knows what a swindler he is and can take precautions should it ever have the misfortune of having him as their parish priest. This couldn't have happened had the matter been handled, er, 'in house'.

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  7. I can understand this happening. I can see how priests "co opted" into family life can float on an unrealistic cloud and act in an inappropriate way without measuring all the consequences. This does not make it right. It does ask how clued up on life in general some priests really are?. It also queries the relationship between priest and congregation. I also wonder where he will find the £55 thousand to to pay back. What is now happening to the ladies in the story and do they share any legal blame

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  8. £7800 thats a joke for this man of God. He should get a decent salary! come on fair is fair.

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    1. 'Man of God'? Are you having a laugh?

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  9. I was at a mass in a cathedral in the west of Ireland - the adm of the cathedral said that each person should be giving 10% of their salary each week to the church - I WAS SHOCKED AT THIS. Its interesting to see him driving around in 2017 car.

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    1. 'Should be giving 10% of their salary'? Sounds as arrogant as the German church tax.

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    2. It's called "tithing". Its biblical. Many of the evangelical churches expect it from their members if they can afford it.

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    3. I believe the Mormons give 10% of there salary plus they are expected to do work for the church . A friend of mine is a Mormon and she told me a rota gets posted every month and everyone has a job to do

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    4. 14:54, 'tithing' is an innocuous-sounding word, but, semantically, it was mandatory in biblical times.

      No one should be compelled, either by law or by supposed moral obligation, to support financially priests just because they are priests. This would be an abuse of clerical authority, which is not endorsed by relevant biblical sayings of Jesus and Paul.

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    5. We are not the mormons dear.

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    6. Certainly, in the Catholic Church no one is "compelled" to give financial support. It is entirely voluntary. It should and must be properly regulated to avoid abuses such as perpetrated by that Fr Reid.

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    7. 16:43, oh, that's more than a little disingenuous of you.

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    8. What do you mean disingenuous?

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    9. Oh, come on now, 20:13. You know as well as I that Canon Law requires such payment on pain of serious sin.

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    10. First I heard of it. Which Canon?

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    11. Canon 222 p. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.

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    12. Doesn't say anything about "on pain of serious sin". All I am saying is this: all money should be transparently handled with scrupulous honesty. As far as I am aware, all parishes now have a finance committee and the priest in our parish at least doesn't sign cheques. The finance chairperson and a co-signatory does all that.

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    13. Canon 222 §1. "The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers."

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    14. Of course it doesn't say this ...explicitly. Nevertheless, this is the intended meaning.

      'Obliged' in canonical circumstance almost invariably indicates grave sinfulness should the obligation not be met.

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    15. No it doesn't and that is not the "intended meaning". It just means obliged and it is a normal and reasonable obligation. Are you a canon lawyer as well as everything else? Furthermore, the obligation is not binding on those without means.

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    16. True, the obligation is not binding on those without means; I never said it was. Catholics are obliged to pay ACCORDING TO THEIR MEANS.It needn't always (or at all) be monetary: it can be fulfilled by, for example, voluntary service of one kind or another.

      Are you scrupulous? You appear to be, given the defensive tone of your comment. If you are, you have my sympathy. I have guided scrupulous people before; some of them were tormented.

      If the Code of Canon Law troubles you, get yourself a copy...and then BURN it. Watch it while it burns and turns to ash...as will your moral scruples.

      I have used this technique before, not with the Code, but with other legalistic Catholic books. It works.

      All the best.

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    17. No, I am definitely not scrupulous. I do, however, suffer from a slight aversion to complete twats like yourself LOL

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  10. Nonfeasance by Michael Ryan is a groundbreaking work about the Catholic hierarchy’s knowing and willful failure to protect the Church’s primary source of income - the donations of the people is a good read.

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  11. So now can we have you, Eamon martin, show us how much you spend on trying to change the sexual behaviours of priests and seminarians.
    I tear up the envelope that asks me for money for your seminarians

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  12. I know that Down and Connor parishes certainly do have independent professional auditing of their finances and have advice and scrutiny committees. They continue to publish annual detailed reports available to all parishioners. I received my own this very morning at 10.00 Mass (Many of the remarks which have appeared would have been justified even as little as say, five years ago but are out of date nowadays)

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    1. Yes, poster 13.40, you're correct. They have to be much more accountable and professional nowadays, especially if they are having to deal with the tax authorities re/use of the Gift Aid scheme to avoid waste. We also have seen our parish balance sheets and the names of those on our independent committee this week.

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  13. To whoever is correcting the homework here.
    I've no intention of adhering to the good grammar people on here.

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    1. 13.48 More power to yr finger

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    2. 13.48 You've restored my faith in humanity. This grammar/spelling little petty person has really rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way.

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    3. Wow--well that's a compliment to his efforts at any rate!

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    4. We don't doubt that, believe me!

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  14. I'm afraid Pat that another English diocese is currently embroiled in a similar financial scandal. The diocese in question has published a statement on its website claiming the Priest involved has been suspended. The CPS has issued two charges of fraud against him by false representation. He worked previously in another English diocese where financial irregularities are also being investigated. It's understood the Priest is from an American diocese who has supplied in these dioceses whilst undertaking studies at Cambridge at the same time.

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  15. I imagine the Church are now going to the courts and the police to make an example of priests who steal.

    I think its as much about firing shots over the heads of all priests rather than a desire to punish a few?

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    1. After all the Church is not above the law.

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  16. Thing is with getting a list of how our money is spent
    Looking at one I got once, there was a lot of misaleanous items on it, so that wasn't good enough.

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    1. Ha ha! Good man, Pat.!

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    2. Miss Alettes perhaps.

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    3. (Sadie on the sofa) Ha ha!.. I like it! Boys'a dear--you're quick!

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  17. 'The labourer is worthy of his hire.' These are Chaucer's words, not Christ's or Paul's; but they were inspired by the oft-misunderstood phrase in Luke 10:7 : '...for the labourer deserves his wages.'

    Does he? Deserve his wages? Not if he doesn't labour for them. If Joe Public failed to turn up for work, he wouldn't get paid; nor would any reasonable person argue that he should.

    Unfortunately, too many priests I have known believe they are entitled to 'sponge off' their parishioners (some even have sufficient self-regard to think that parishioners should feel privileged to be giving such support), not by dint of any just payment for work well done, but simply because they are priests: ontologically different (that is, 'superior').

    Paul 'the Apostle' wrote an impassioned plea for what he considered his 'right' to be materially supported by those among whom he ministered. There was a pre-condition for exercising the right (even Paul had a professional code of conduct): the disciples actually had to have 'sown spiritual good' among the people before being entitled to reap 'material benefits'. (1 Cor 9:4-14)

    Too often these days it is scandal that is sown, grave spiritual harm rather than good. Like the damage to trust and confidence caused by the apparently unapologetic Fr John Reid: 'Ultimately, I'm in charge of it (parish funds), so I can spend it.'

    It needn't be spiritual malaise on a 'cause celebre' scale that disqualifies Father from drawing his wage: periodic infringements, like failing to visit the housebound, should count, too.

    I have always considered Paul one of the more demanding, and insufferably arrogant, of the 'Apostles', whose exhortations to faith and trust in God's providential care, were contradicted by his repeated concern with material welfare, a concern he goes on to express again in 1 Tim 5:18.

    It is a cliché (though still a truism) that Father is as interested in mammon as in God. (We have Paul to thank for this preoccupation.) Father shouldn't be anxious however, nor need he be, if only he had faith in the kind of over-arching care Jesus assures us of in Matt. 6: 25-33: 'Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life...but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things (needs) shall be yours as well'. It needn't be perfect faith in Jesus' assurance: mustard-seed-sized faith will do 'the trick', too.

    Jesus makes ominous warning about the spiritual danger of trying to serve God and mammon: of allowing oneself to become anxious about the cares of this life. But then, if Father won't heed him, why would anyone else?

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    1. Your negative view of Paul is based on false information - as even a little theological and biblical study will show.

      Paul didn't write 1 Timothy. The issues it deals with - chiefly those of a Christian community learning to co-exist with a pagan society - are later than Paul who died in 67/68.

      There are lots of online courses you could take up.

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    2. 22:06, the author of 1 Timothy is not unanimously established among biblical scholars, though traditionally, authorship of this 'pastoral' is attributed to Paul 'the Apostle'. Until such authorship is, through reliable biblical scholarship, established, I shall continue to take the traditional view.

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    3. Paul, by tradition, died in or around the beginning of the first State-sponsored persecution of Christians, by Emperor Nero, in AD 64.

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  18. What about the waste of money spent on your training at Maynooth Mags Carta? You didn't even finish the course, I forgot, you got shown the door. Total waste of the laitys money and Church funds.

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    1. 17:07, apart from the total irrelevancy of your post to my comment, you don't know whether or not I finished 'the course', and where I finished it.

      And I certainly wasn't 'shown the door'.

      Such a child, my son.

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    2. You do protest too much Maggie Carta, did the person at 17.07 hit a raw nerve as it certainly seems that way. Whether you finished the course or wherever is neither here or there, us lay folk paid for it and now we see the waste of money it was and the waste of space it was spent on. Run along now Maggie and be a good girl. Ha ha.

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    3. Another child, 18:34.

      This blog is becoming an intellectual kindergarten.

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    4. Hope Magna Carta pays back the money that was wasted on his formation.

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    5. Anything spent on me, my child, is never wasted. You got pure genius for your money.

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    6. The arrogance of the creature!!

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    7. Another compliment. Thank you.

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  19. The priests have free house repairs and a free house, so whatever they get by way of salary is enough and more.
    Don't anyone think that they underpaid

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  20. Waterford Priest9 April 2017 at 17:28

    Pat, could you clear something up for us please? When you had that confrontation with Bishop Phonsie during Communion in Tramore you asked him to tell the Congregation about Annette. Who is she and is she being supported by Diocesan funds. It has caused great intrigue ever since.

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    1. She is being supported by a diocese - but not Waterford.

      I don't think Phonsie wants us talking about her or her circumstances.

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    2. And since when have you started obeying the wishes of Bishops?

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  21. Pat you really love muck raking, and the muckier the better for you. Could I remind you of the old adage 'People in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones.' Your own life circumstances leave a great deal to be desired. Someone in your vulnerable position should show some humility instead of rejoicing in the failings of others.

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    1. How am I vulnerable?

      All my "secrets" are already out there.

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    2. You've hit a raw nerve Pat with 18.38 and 18.46, no doubt the same person. Sounds like Phonsie or one of His minions lol.

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    3. Yes indeed. I hit so many raw nerves I often think I should have been a dentist :-)

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  22. Pat, when you went to get Communion that time Phoensie rejected you, you later complained. Why? You have said time after time you do NOT associate yourself with the RCC - why, then, do you want Communion from that same institution? Just a thought...

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    1. I was present at my friend's funeral Mass and decided to take part fully.

      The RCC would say that my Masses are "valid" - meaning I take Communion all the time.

      If I can validly confect and receive the Eucharist what's the problem?

      I would have gone to Communion regardless of denomination.

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  23. Communion is not a medication. To be at mass and not go to Communion is a contradiction in terms. It's like being in a restaurant and eating nothing. Also Communion does not have a brand name like R C or Anglican. At least it didn't when Jesus instituted it. We/history supplied the packaging. The Orthodox Communion is cube shaped. Does this mean it's inferior to make a point

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