Rabbi claims Papal dispensation for alcoholic priest to use grape juice?

Does anyone know if Rabbi Joseph Telushkin in his The Book of Jewish Values: A Day-by-Day Guide to Ethical Living


…is correct that a Pope (unnamed) gave a alcoholic priest dispensation to use grape juice as the pre-consecration element for Communion? Rabbi Telushkin provided no specifics of who, when, or where, just used this “example” as an annecdote of mercy being applied to religious practice.

I first posed this question in the “Ask an Apologist” forum a few weeks ago, but I understand question volume and the like in not getting an answer. Anyone here know if the Rabbi is accurate or is just repeating an “clerical rumor” with no verification?

They are allowed to use ‘mustum’ which is grape juice that has just started fermenting. This use of mustum goes back at least to Pope Julius I back in the 4th century whom Thomas Aquinas quotes in “Summa Theologica”

Everything I have read has the Popes always denying the use anything except “grape wine” and wheat bread for use in celebrating Mass. They do allow when really necessary the use of “raisin wine”, soaking raisins and then allowing them to ferment.

If it’s fermenting then it is no longer grape juice, but minimally wine.

I think that a couple of rabbis have also made all sorts of claims about the art in the Sistine chapel…of course they wrote a book about it…How hidden could symbols be in a place that is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Europe?

I would just chalk it up to nothing more than rumor


Card. F. Seper, Prefect of the SCDF addressed the following letter, May 2, 1974, Prot. No. 88/74, to Card. J. Krol, President of the Conference of Bishops of the United States:
For some time different Ordinaries have asked this Sacred Congregation for the permission to allow priests who are undergoing a treatment for alcoholism or who have undergone this treatment, to celebrate Mass with unfermented grape juice.
With this situation in mind, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith authorizes the Ordinaries of the United States of America to grant to those priests who have made this request the permission either to concelebrate with one or more priests a normal Mass but without receiving communion under the species of wine or, when this is not possible, to celebrate Mass using unfermented grape juice and to use water alone for the ritual ablutions after Communion. Also, one must avoid creating scandal for the faithful.
In the hope of meeting the concern shown by the bishops for those of their priests suffering from alcoholism and in asking you to inform the Ordinaries of the permission that is granted to them, I am sincerely yours.

Our priest returned within this last year from substance abuse treatment , and honestly I can’t taste any difference in the communion wine at all…I know it isn’t grape juice

I happen to detest wine and I know the difference

When you first squeeze fresh grapes, what do you get?

You get wine.

Why? Because the fermentation starts immediately.

There are yeasts on the skins and yeasts float around in the air.

And you shouldn’t be able to taste a difference in what you receive because, if he has permission to use mustum, he would use a separate chalice for himself; he can’t use mustum for the parishioners too.

Cluny wrote:
When you first squeeze fresh grapes, what do you get?

You get wine.

Why? Because the fermentation starts immediately.

There are yeasts on the skins and yeasts floating around in the air.

And that’s why Thomas Acquinas wrote in Summa Theologica:
Reply to Objection 3. The juice of unripe grapes is at the stage of incomplete generation, and therefore it has not yet the species of wine: on which account it may not be used for this sacrament. Must, however, has already the species of wine, for its sweetness “Aut dulcis musti Vulcano decoquit humorem”; Virgil, Georg. i, 295] indicates fermentation which is “the result of its natural heat” (Meteor. iv); consequently this sacrament can be made from must. Nevertheless entire grapes ought not to be mixed with this sacrament, because then there would be something else besides wine. It is furthermore forbidden to offer must in the chalice, as soon as it has been squeezed from the grape, since this is unbecoming owing to the impurity of the must. But in case of necessity it may be done: for it is said by the same Pope Julius, in the passage quoted in the argument: "If necessary, let the grape be pressed into the chalice."

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