Definition of Drunkeness

To deliberately get drunk is a grave sin. We all know this. That being said, there seems to be some confusion on the definition. On this forum I have noticed a tendency to condemn the consumption of anything more than a drink or two at dinner. I wonder if this is cultural. American Catholicism is, I think, somewhat influenced by America’s historically Protestant worldview. Would Italian or Spanish Catholics have a much looser definition of “crossing” the line from responsible enjoyment of alcohol to the grave sin of drunkeness?
I remember reading a definition from the Catholic Dictionary (by Fr Hardin?) that defined gravely sinful drunkenness as drinking to the point at which one can no longer discern right from wrong. By that definition a big guy like myself would have to drink a fairly vast quantity to approach such a state.

Re-posting a post I did in the past:

When drinking alchol is excessive there is sin. When drinking is contrary to temperance or health etc.

Examples of when drinking is grave sin (mortal sin) would be - getting “drunk” -that is -total loss of ones reason, drinking leading to other mortal sins, drunk driving…

Going beyond temperance can be venial sin (I set aside any question of driving…that brings other aspects into things…but suffice to say let someone else drive).

But what is temperance for one person may not be temperance for another. Body weight etc can come into play here.

I know for example that I ought not have more than two drinks . Now someone else will say that about one drink. Someone else will say 2 1/2…

(And one ought to look a new research as well in terms of health as well as the effects medically on a person of such and such a weight and it varies according to gender too - of how long it takes for the body to remove the alcohol.)

(And of course a person with a history of overdoing it -ought to take great care - and if any have say alcoholism - that is a “never drink” situation)


PS for the OP - it is Father Hardon - you can google the Catholic Dictionary and his name to see all he said…

Also you can google his name and “Drinking and Temperance” together for a long article.

I interpret it to mean purposely drinking enough alcohol that one is no longer in control of one’s actions, especially with intent to use it an excuse for moral deprevity. I wouldn’t personally say having had 2-3 drinks and being at the point of feeling warm and relaxed (and probably shouldn’t drive), but still well aware of actions is a sin.

It is not really how much someone drinks, but what happens when they do. If it is negatively effecting a person’s relationships when they drink, if they can’t remember what they did, if they seek “lower” company / friends, if their reputation is negatively affected then that person is probably getting drunk when they drink.

The first part is not correct. The second part is partial correct.

There is more to it than just “what happens when they do” see above and works of moral theology.

I think a lot of it is cultural in the U.S.A, largely as remnants of Puritanism and then the temperance movement/prohibition. Mortal sin drunkenness per the Summa is drinking to the point one loses their ability to reason. That is foot on the floor in bed, almost hobo level inebriation. I have had multiple priests affirm to me that a buzz is not a sin.

In a movement I come from, wine is stated to be “a sign” and therefore (with the exception of alcoholics) one is required to only give feedback on the operation of its proceedings after the monthly luncheon cum tanking up session. It’s noticeable how unreceptive to sense and unable to utter it, almost all the members are - especially those given the most prominent positions - a case of in vino not veritas but bu****it - even though they would have no trouble on a breathalyser test on the drive home even as they weave abruptly between lanes. (The food is always good.)

Some people might kid themselves they know the difference between right and wrong. But if they can’t hear and speak it . . .

Oh and the movement is based on a certain foreign country. Which in religious terms has been held back by unalloyed fatalism for the last 525 years.

Germans drink their wine diluted to this day. English “public schools” used to dispense “small beer” (i.e diluted) at all meals, which is why the youth of England grew up only semi sozzled.

Modern day water purification plants obviate the “need” to disinfect water by adding alcohol (unless you lived by a mountain stream).

Therefore the deliberate carelessness and excuse making of entire nations stinks.

My son in law is German. I lived in Germany for several years and I have many German friends. All of them would be completely shocked at your comment. It is simply not correct.

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