Prohibition and Communion

I’m learning about the Prohibition movement in the US in my history class and I was wondering: what would Catholic churches do if it was illegal to drink alcohol? I know that the Church doesn’t allow for the use of grape juice for the Precious Blood, but would an exception be made if say a law was passed that banned all alcohol consumption?

During Prohibition, there was an exception for sacramental wine and for alcohol in many medicines. For Latin rite Catholics, in those days, the congregation only received under one species so the exception was primarily for the priest.

OTOH, Orthodox and other Eastern Christians, to say nothing about Episcopalians and Lutherans, gave Communion in both species to all the faithful.

if you studied all the history about prohibition you learned that sacramental wine was exempt, it could be produced, sold through approved outlets to churches and used there.

True as that is, it’s possible to envision a hypothetical situation in which ALL alcohol was banned, with no exemptions for religious liturgies.

In such a case, Catholic Canon Law is clear that the sacrament is invalid and ineffective unless BOTH bread AND wine are consecrated and consumed by the priest.

A modification has been made in the case of alcoholic priests for use of mustum - an extremely-low-alcohol product. Possibly an exemption could be sought for general use of mustum by all priests in the affected area.

Otherwise, to have a valid sacrament, the law on prohibition would have to be broken, it seems, since the moral imperative for a valid Eucharist as commanded by Christ outweighs our obligations of obedience to secular authorities.

Thanks for all the responses, we just briefly mentioned Prohibition and didn’t really talk too much about it, but it got me thinking. Thanks again!

being someone of no knowledge of winemaking, is it not possible to produce non-alcoholic wine for this purpose?

Well, Canon Law states that the wine must be ‘natural fruit of the vine’ - you can’t add chemical preservatives or use alcohol derived from other fruits or from grains or anything like that.

I guess the processing required to make wine non-alcoholic might put its being ‘natural’ into question or something :shrug:

I believe there was an exception for religious purposes. Additionally,for most of church history, the people did not receive the precious blood. That is a novus ordo thing.

I know some of the families of the synagogue I grew up in claimed to be very religious during Prohibition. As Wine is used for Shabbos, and the Havdalah, service that closes the Sabbath, they claimed to be observant so they could purchase bottles of wine for religious reasons.

We can make our own wine. We must be careful though, to nip in the bud NOW these small seemingly innocuous sillinesses, such as banning crucifixes in schools, e.g… Italy. We must say,* '‘Or what? What are you gonna do - jail me?’* And if they want to jail you, let them. They will look foolish.

Bring it on, I say. We Catholics will have to resist all silly laws from the start. Because if we don’t, things will get much worse.

Yes, there was an exception made during prohibition for sacramental purposes.

Non-alcoholic wine is not valid matter.

If the U.S. outlawed all wine without an exception for use in our masses, we would have to break the law, and it would be no sin.

No it really isn’t. Grape juice, left to itself, will turn into either wine or vinegar, depending on what yeasts or bacteria it is exposed to, even while still in the fruit. Since the exposure even happens while the juice is inside the grape, there is no natural means to stop it from becoming either wine or vinegar, you simply help the juice ‘choose’ which one to become :slight_smile:

Welch used the pasturization process to produce the grape juice we now know and can buy on store shelves.

The Church does allow for a low alcohol wine called mustum, where the fermenation process is allowed to begin, but is then halted, generally by freezing it.

This is simply a very low alcohol wine, but it is still wine none the less.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.