A student at the University of Central Florida says he's now getting death threats after he stole and later returned a wafer representing the "Body of Christ" from a Catholic Mass in Orlando.
The student senator, Webster Cook, originally claimed he merely wanted to show the Eucharist to a friend who had questions about Catholicism before consuming the host.
Cook, who was raised Catholic, said he decided to bring the wafer home June 29 after a church leader tried to physically pry it from his hand. Cook broke Church rules by failing to consume it immediately during Communion and then removing it from his mouth once seated.
The wafer was kept in a Ziploc bag until Cook returned it days later along with an e-mail stating, "I am returning the Eucharist to you in response to the e-mails I have received from Catholics in the UCF community. 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."
Cook has reportedly been getting death threats, prompting his friend, who wants to remain nameless, to discuss the situation with local media.
"I was kind of confused because I always thought that Jesus was a pacifist, and they're using violence in order to get back the body of a pacifist," he told WOFL-TV.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented on the case, stating:
"For a student to disrupt Mass by taking the Body of Christ hostage – regardless of the alleged nature of his grievance – is beyond hate speech. That is why the UCF administration needs to act swiftly and decisively in seeing that justice is done. All options should be on the table, including expulsion."