Errors in Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor – Protestant approach: Condemnation of any drinking of alcohol


JUNE 21, 2013


Errors in Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor – 08

Protestant approach: Condemnation of any drinking of alcohol



1. The spirituality of the Divine Retreat Centre [DRC] is “charismatic”. One gets the impression that the DRC‘s “charismatics”, both preaching teams as well as regular devotees, believe that they are “superior” to other Catholics.

Since my antecedents are not known to many who visit our web site, I proudly affirm that my spirituality is charismatic.

I must add that one of my spiritual directors, a holy and orthodox French Benedictine priest, actually finds it impossible to reconcile my “conservative” ministry with my being “charismatic”. To him it’s an oxymoron. To me, it seems a natural thing.

I have attended literally dozens of retreats and special events including a Bible College and a training programme in Counselling at the DRC between 1995 and 2000. I still do, as in the past, recommend to others these retreats for the reason that the preaching of the Word of God at the DRC has led to the transformation of many lives.

However, it is generally accepted that the contents of the retreat programmes have not evolved much since their inception over two decades ago and the retreats have continued to be by and large what can only be termed as an “initiation” into the Faith. This has resulted in little growth in the spiritual lives of most regular retreatants for whom the Centre becomes a place of pilgrimage and recourse when in need. Many, lacking “solid food” which they now pursue, end up as Pentecostals.

2a. It has been my observation for a very long time that the Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor, has been the propagator of errors and abuses, including in the liturgy of the Mass, something that, as an apologist, I now find impossible to ignore.

I admit adhering to and participating in most if not all of them at one time or another for several reasons, the chief among them being ignorance; moreover, no one objected to them and almost every charismatic priest, religious and lay leader practised them. However, circumstances — and the personal counsel of some good CCR leaders who would like to see these abuses and errors stopped — make it imperative that they be now exposed. Some teachings at the DRC are not Catholic.

2b. It has been my experience — when I have pointed out these errors and abuses from time to time — that most die-hard devotees of the Divine Retreat Centre are not very receptive to fraternal correction of any sort, or even discussion of the possibility of the Centre being in error. Their responses have ranged from indulgence to hostility. My pointing out that I am only appealing to the teaching of the Church has not saved me from being labeled “anti-Divine Retreat Centre”.

The DRC has become a holy cow for many both within and without the institution and any criticism is viewed as bordering on the sacrilegious. I can truthfully state that this attitude goes right up to the top of the administration. In case my statements appear outrageous, let the reader be assured that, in the course of this series,
I will provide the necessary evidence
to support them.

3. The focus of the first article in the series was on DRC‘s Enneagrams proponent, Sri Lankan preacher Lalith Perera; see DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-01,


The Enneagram is a New Age, occult personality-typing system. See ENNEAGRAMS SUMMARY
for more information on Enneagrams.

Despite the evidence provided to its Director, Fr Augustine Vallooran VC and letters of protest sent to him by several Catholics, DRC continues to invite occult-tainted Lalith Perera to minister at the Centre every year sine our report in 2006.

4. The immediate reason for this series on the Divine Retreat Centre, Muringoor, was the refusal of priests at the Centre to engage in civil correspondence with us in regard to our genuine concern about their promotion of a controversial mystic, see our September 2012 report MAUREEN SWEENEY-HOLY LOVE MINISTRIES This resulted in the report DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-02,

If that attitude was an isolated one, there would have been no necessity for this series. Unfortunately, it was a repeat of the 2006 enneagram preacher DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-01 issue. These first two reports of the series do indeed confirm that the Divine Retreat Centre indeed does not take kindly to fraternal correction or attempt to correct serious error. More evidence of that will be provided.





The Vincentian Fathers have either never replied to my letters drawing their attention to errors that are propagated at their retreat centres and in the Indian church at large, or if they ever did, as in the cases of the Enneagram proponent Lalith Perera [DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-01] and the controversial mystic Maureen Sweeney‘s devotions [DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-02], the letters are evasive or harsh.


5. In closing DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-02, I wrote, “Apparently, the Divine Retreat Centre has made a habit of promoting false mystics, one such being a Greek Orthodox woman, Vassula Ryden whose messages have been condemned by Rome as dangerous” and to be shunned by Catholics.

That was the subject of the next report,



6. The fourth report in the series is on the use of Hindu and superstitious marks on forehead and face by the Centre’s Catholic devotees and retreatants. See



7. The fifth report concerns the top echelons of the DRC‘s Vincentian administration’s dalliance with yoga.



8. The sixth report


is a continuation of the above. I had written to the DRC-Muringoor priests, received a response from Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC at long last, and wrote a rebuttal to which he never replied.


9. The seventh report

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-07 concerns a retreat given by Edmund Antao‘s “Crusaders for Jesus with Mary” team from Vasco, Goa at the Divine retreat Centre, Muringoor.

Edmund Antao and the Crusaders for Jesus with Mary team have conducted “pilgrimage” tours to Naju, Korea, to the site where Julia Kim claims to experience heavenly visitations and phenomena such as consecrated hosts mysteriously materializing and falling from the sky to the ground, consecrated hosts becoming flesh and blood on her tongue, etc. An Indian bishop and several priests have accompanied Edmund Antao and the Crusaders for Jesus with Mary team to Naju and celebrated Mass there. The local ordinary and the Korean Bishops’ Conference have ruled against the alleged seer and the site, advising Catholics to stay away. The
local bishop has issued a decree excommunicating all those who even visit the alleged apparition site. Despite the Korean Bishops’ condemnations and warnings, Edmund Antao and the Crusaders for Jesus with Mary team propagate the messages of Julia Kim and lead tours to Naju. This amounts to gross defiance of and disobedience to the Catholic Church.

The team also conducts charismatic retreats at different places in India, mostly at the invitation of bishops, but also at the behest of regional service teams.

During these retreats they speak about Julia Kim and their Naju experience, offering two CDs on sale, one in Konkani and the other in English, thus promoting the banned site nation-wide.

The detailed report can be accessed at


I quote from my concluding statements in the above report:

“Those who propagate the alleged mystic Julia Kim and her messages, those who conduct pilgrimages to Naju, and those who argue on her behalf as well as on the behalf of her supporters in defiance of the bishops’ pronouncements, are guilty of being “not in union with magisterium“:
“… all who fail to follow the directives are to be considered as willfully opposing the magisterium, the Catholic Church’s divinely guided authority to teach true doctrine.”
In effect, they have incurred automatic excommunication.”


10. The present report

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-08 questions the DRC‘s consistent condemnation of the consumption of alcoholic beverages as nothing short of mortal sin, with no allowance for any exceptions.

I myself, by a personal decision, abjured the drinking of both hard liquor as well as beer when I commenced part-time ministry in May/June 1982. I never again permitted alcohol to enter our home and completely avoided indulging in drinking socially. But I was never fanatic about it. Until I visited DRC for the first time in 1995. That year, over a period of 11 months, I made five separate retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre.




I was enthralled with the “Full Gospel” preached at DRC. I made several more retreats there between 1996 and 2000, and always heard the same thing preached: “To consume liquor/alcohol is a mortal sin”.

Preacher after preacher, testimony after testimony, they all said the same thing. I became a believer from day one. They couldn’t possibly be wrong. Some of the priests proclaiming that teaching were theologians.

At least one of the preachers, Vinu Philip from Kochi who testified at the couples’ programmes, was a recovering alcoholic. And the DRC had opened a centre for people addicted to narcotics, psychotropic substances and alcohol. Yes, smoking too was always clubbed with alcohol as being a grievous sin, with not only physical but spiritually mortal consequences.


I remember Advocate A.M. Mathew, one of the stalwarts of DRC, upbraiding me for smoking in the lobby of the Community Centre of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, New Delhi, somewhere in the mid-1980s, during an intermission at a retreat he was giving. He was there at the invitation of the Delhi Service Team of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of which I was a founder-member [1982/1983]. I was surprised silly more than anything else. I was into preaching, counseling and all the things that good charismatic leaders do, and I maintained a highly visible profile in the Church in Delhi. Everyone knew that I smoked, and I mean everyone. A couple of our priests and I even used to bum cigarettes off of each other.


I recall that the once-a-day ‘luxury’ indulged in by one of the 20th century’s most highly revered Protestant figures, the Lutheran Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was a cigar permitted him – in his Nazi prison cell. In his Letters and Papers from Prison, there are twenty entries indexed under “smoking”. Bonhoeffer was executed by the minions of Hitler. The great Anglican C. S. Lewis incessantly smoked cigarettes and a pipe. Prominent European and American theologians, Protestant and Catholic, some of them priests and pastors, smoked. I have known some pious Vicars-General, Chancellors and an Archbishop or two to smoke cigars and seen pictures of Cardinals with lit cigars drooping from their lips. Are they all condemned to hell, I wondered.

The most vehement objections to tobacco use arise mainly in fundamentalist or evangelical circles although enthusiastic smokers can also be found in the ranks of conservative evangelicals: the famous Baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon was a smoker who responded to critics
saying that he would continue to smoke “to the glory of God”. What then does one make of 1 Corinthians 6: 19, 20 wherein St. Paul asks, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you … Therefore glorify God in your body”?


That brings me back to the matter of the teaching that drinking alcohol defiles the body. This absolute condemnation of liquor and nicotine use by the DRC was one of the leading areas of disagreement between the ministry of the DRC and the mainstream Catholic Charismatic Renewal [CCR]. In my association with it since 1982, I don’t remember the latter — despite its American Protestant origins — ever proclaiming a moral judgement on alcohol and tobacco. But I remember that at one time, during the first half of the 1990s, if you were an honest-to-God ‘charismatic’, attending a retreat at the DRC or ‘witnessing’ to ‘Potta‘ at mainstream CCR prayer meetings was anathema. As a twice-former chairman of the Madras Service Team of the CCR had aggressively said to me, then a self-appointed DRC-apologist, “Potta is full of aberrations”.

To my DRC-tuned mind and ears, that was blasphemy. Speaking against ‘Potta‘ was indefensible. ‘Potta‘ was a holy cow! It was a ‘Divine‘ place, literally. I reacted, as do many DRC-devotees to criticism of the Centre even if genuine, with a condescending and judgemental poor-ignorant-lost-soul response. The referred leader was a non-smoker, but there were some in the Madras CCR who smoked, and many more including the leader himself who drank. I know other Regional Chairmen of the CCR who drank, always secretively, while in office. One was an army officer who was elected chairman thrice in three different cities and states.

A recent chairman of the Madras Service Team, a rich businessman and reportedly a relative of one of the priest-Directors of the DRC was and is a habitual drinker, I have been informed. I am fairly certain that there are more than enough of tipplers in the Renewal leadership to make a solid case [pun not intended].

Private and semi-public criticism by the mainstream CCR of “Potta‘s” anti-drinking, anti-smoking policy ceased when the Indian Bishops’ Conference forcibly married the two powerful streams to each other in an effort to resolve a host of sticky problems largely territorial — and of course financial!


The greatest problem appeared to be a personality clash between two very powerful people: the longest-serving three-term Chairman of the National Service Team who is now on the verge of achieving his ambition to make it to the number one seat at the ICCRS [International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services], Rome, and Fr. Augustine Vallooran Director, Divine Retreat Centre. Much more on this later.

Senior- and middle-level regional and local leaders were urged to lift the unofficial ‘ban’ on their members’ attending retreats at DRC and to themselves go there. Which they did, some of them sheepishly. DRC, with its extensive and excellently-managed facilities became a major centre for a host of CCR national programs.

In return, a priest-Director of the DRC was co-opted on to the National Service Team of the CCR, and he shared the dais with CCR leaders at several national programmes. One could now safely share at a prayer-meeting about one’s having been to “Potta” without being at the receiving end of derisive looks and smiles or being emotionally hustled out for being a fundamentalist.



But it was a cosmetic arrangement, an artificial alliance, and the game of one-upmanship at the very top did not go away as hoped by many. Eventually, the two have gone their own ways, as it was in the beginning…

I do not know of any leaders of the CCR who gave up smoking and/or drinking during the honeymoon with the DRC.


The crusade against alcohol was most aggressive in the Malayalam section of the DRC, quite prominent in the Konkani language section, and enough to make teetotalers and ex-smokers of many who attended the English language retreats. And that is good. About what is not good about it, we will come to, soon.

An ex-Communist party functionary and firebrand preacher P.J. Antony would testify every week that his little daughter called him a “dead man” because he was spiritually dead from consuming alcohol. I believe that the exact words that he used were, “You are dead, man”. I have made copious notes of every talk at every retreat I have ever attended including all those at DRC, but I am not consulting them here. P.J. Antony was a “dead” man not because of any other sins, though he never denied that truth, but because of drinking.

Lesson to be learned: If one drinks, one is spiritually dead; one is in the state of mortal sin.


At the DRC, preachers do not distinguish between social drinking and compulsive, habitual drinking or alcoholism. There is simply a blanket condemnation of alcohol. P.J. Antony’s talk used to be reinforced by Professor C.K. Joseph in his talk on “Sin” and again by the other firebrand preacher John Paul, who faded into oblivion five years to the month he joined DRC. The news is that this former Hindu-turned-Catholic preacher had signed a five-year contract with DRC at the end of which he left the Catholic Church and joined a Pentecostal congregation in Kerala. So much for an individual who was for five years their star speaker [in nine Indian languages if I remember correctly] on the elite inner circle of Fr. Augustine Vallooran‘s team and privy to all the intrigue at the Centre. Some say it was ‘for money’, others believe that he was disillusioned by what he saw and experienced for five years. During his tenure he avoided contact with retreatants.

He has not been the first DRC preacher to leave the Church or to leave DRC, trailing a host of unanswered questions. Other DRC stars have preceded or followed him, some like Paul Ganesh Iyer, the singing duo Abey and Swapna, Vinu Philip who testified at the couples’ programmes, etc leaving a trail of deceit, scandal, divorce and reversion to drugs and alcohol. The attrition rate of DRC preachers has been abnormally high. Their succumbing to the very sins that they themselves railed against after being projected as shining examples of virtue and Catholicity begs looking deeper into and this will be done over this series of reports.


To return to the ‘problem’ of alcohol, by the evening of the first day of the week-long weekly DRC retreats, the preachers would urge retreatants to empty their pockets and surrender the narcotics on their persons and to go to their bunkers and rooms and collect their stashed away supplies of liquor bottles and cigarette packets, which they would proceed to do to the sustained applause of the other retreatants.

On a later day, retreatants would confess to a priest that they had been smoking and/or drinking and after receiving absolution go for counseling if they so desired.

The DRC publishes the ‘Divine Voice’ magazine in English and ‘Vachanolsavam’ in English, Malayalam, etc.

Each page carries a verse of scripture from the Holy Bible. Some of these selected verses are those that concern the drinking of wine, drunkenness and the like. The magazine themselves, especially the latter which is heavily Scripture-based, also carry articles against the evils of drinking.

All of this is highly commendable. However, like the preaching at Divine, they do not distinguish between drinking and drunkenness. By implication, alcohol is taboo for the Catholic reader.


Protestant preaching is always Scripture based. It is called “Sola Scriptura” which means “Scripture alone”.

The phenomenon of “Sola Scriptura” arose from the Protestant Reformation which was a rebellion against the Pope and the teaching authority of the Magisterium. Protestants do not have such a teaching authority; neither do they have the other pillar of Catholicism which is called Tradition. Tradition would include the teachings of the Early Church Fathers.

Vatican Documents*, Apostolic Letters, Papal Encyclicals, Motu Proprios, etc. are Magisterial teaching.

Genuine “Full Gospel” Catholic preaching and teaching would appeal not only to the Bible but also to Magisterial teaching and Tradition, and to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] is, to put it simply, an explanation by the Catholic Church of the contents of the Holy Bible. Protestants may — and do — interpret verses of the Bible to mean whatever is convenient to them, to their listeners or what interpretation supports their particular church’s Statement of Faith. It is not so for Catholics. If a Catholic needs to know or to teach someone else what the Bible says about anything, she or he must consult the CCC. If a Catholic in authority teaches something that is not in consonance with or in opposition to what the CCC says, it is a most grievous matter. It is being Protestant.


I have completed 32 years of part and full-time ministry, both in the CCR as well as independently. I must have attended altogether over a hundred retreats, seminars, conventions, schools of evangelization and Bible colleges over these three decades.


I do not recall the CCC ever being cited except on a few rare occasions. Certainly no preacher actually used or consulted the CCC — with the singular exception of Fr Jose Vettiyankal, a Vincentian priest [of the same congregation that runs Potta/DRC] and who has an independent ministry. Fr Vettiyankal not only cites the CCC, he carries it around with him to his retreats, along with the Youth Catechism [YouCat] of Pope Benedict XVI, and has the relevant passage read out by one of the participants who is allotted a separate microphone.

He also uses the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India [CCBI]’s Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Copies of the CCC, the YouCat and the Compendium are made available for sale to the retreatants by independent book agencies at many of the retreats given by Fr Vettiyankal. Now, that is Catholic re-evangelizing for you! That is the “new” evangelization in action. Instead of being given fish to eat, Catholics are taught by Fr Vettiyankal how to fish for themselves and how to meet the needs of others.

The DRC has always had a bookstall that stocks and sells everything from Bibles to rosaries, from scapulars to CDs and DVDs, from icons and pictures to religious books. But I don’t believe that they have ever sold a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

*Vatican Documents were cited at the first batch of the English language Divine Bible College that I attended in DRC, July 4 to August 15, 1999. Most of the faculty were from outside.


I remember Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC, the Director of DRC, saying on a couple of occasions that there are three levels of reading and understanding Scripture: the literal, the theological and the spiritual.

One such occasion was at the Bible College. Fr Leslie Ratus** of the Ministry of the Word programme in Mumbai was one of the guest preachers. During one of his talks, the good priest ridiculed the stand of the DRC on drinking. Incensed, I stood up at my seat among the crowd and challenged Father Ratus to a public debate, offering to use Scripture to prove him wrong and the DRC right. He argued with me and we shouted at each other back and forth with the other students joining in. The result was pandemonium, with a section of the students shouting me down and another group urging me on. Just as the dust settled, Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC, the Director, strode on to the stage and gave Fr. Ratus a public dressing down while repeating the two lines at the top of this paragraph, inferring that Fr. Ratus was not interpreting the Bible verses on alcohol with a “spiritual” exegesis. Humiliated, the poor priest wept. That evening, I met Fr. Ratus, identified myself as the person who had disrupted his talk, and apologized for what I did because I had felt obliged to do it. The good priest forgave me even though I added that I would repeat my intervention if I had to in order to uphold the truth. But was it the truth that I had fought for?

**The late Fr. Leslie Ratus, a Jesuit, completed his Masters in Theology in Rome, and taught scripture at the St Pius X Diocesan Seminary in Mumbai. His Ministry of the Word Programme was inaugurated on Pentecost Sunday 1990.


I have admitted that after my first visit in February 1995 to the DRC when I heard the message that drinking of alcohol was a mortal sin, I became a firm “believer”. I must now admit that I took the message so much to heart that I hurt not only my ministry but also my relationships with others. It must have been a full ten years before I came to know the truth, but by then the damage caused by me had become irreparable.

It is easy to preach from the safety of the DRC stage that drinking alcohol is a mortal sin. It is quite another thing to pronounce the same to a family member or relative or friend in their home.

I have seen the top leadership of DRC stay at ‘star hotels’ that had the flashing neon sign that said, “Bar Attached”, and at the homes of rich Catholic businessmen who are known to drink liquor. I was scandalised, because had I been in their place I would never accept the hospitality of “dead” Catholics without trying to enlighten them that they were in all reality “dead” and evangelize them back to life by throwing the Book at them. What I mean to say I that I would have extended my hard-sell preaching at DRC to wherever I went, not soften it, not sugar-coat it, and not bury it to derive any sort of pecuniary benefits by my compromise.

And that’s where I was naïve, ignorant, and horribly wrong.


I was naïve because I believed that the teachings of the DRC could not be in error. Other charismatics simply had not heard the “Full Gospel”, while “normal” Catholics, poor things, were in total darkness. That I adopted such a self-righteous posture is in no way the fault of the DRC. It was not even due to pride or a sort of gnostic approach. It was due to sheer ignorance. I had not yet encountered the Catechism!

I remember being scandalised in the year 2000 when I came to hear that at their deliberations, an international body for evangelization with centres world-wide including India would meet over beer and that in the West, Catholic priests would preach at pubs and bars in a program called “Theology on Tap”* co-founded by Fr. John Cusick and Fr. Jack Wall in Illinois, USA in 1981, now adopted by other denominations.

The latter were, in my opinion, preaching to “dead” people. The former were, of course, themselves “dead”.

One had to first bring them to abjure alcohol before preaching to them the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I repeat that this erroneous attitude of mine, which I diligently applied to my pre-Internet one-on-one ministry till around 2003, was not the fault of the DRC or of anyone else. It was simply that I had not asked a crucial question, “What does the Catholic Church say about this?” The result was a trail of broken relationships because, as is common knowledge, many Catholics drink. Another result was that I could not even begin to evangelize those Catholics whom I deemed to be in darkness. It finally occurred to me that I had to give people Jesus Christ and let Him do the transformation in their lives. I was after all not a retreat centre giving a time-limited retreat with a standardised formatting to a captive audience. *See page 14


It was during this transitory period of enlightenment that I had a one-on-one with a respected lay preacher who regularly gives talks at the DRC. Since he hails from a socio-cultural community and family that drink a fair bit on festive occasions, I asked him what he thought about DRC‘s “drinking is a mortal sin” policy. His answer was a tad evasive, but it started me thinking. “Michael”, he said, “they minister mainly to the people of Kerala where alcoholism is an epidemic. Don’t you think that they are doing good by that?”

Not the perfect answer, maybe some compromise because everyone [well, almost!] wants to be invited to DRC to preach and it is better to refrain from criticism of that Centre, but it sufficed for that time.

I had earlier engaged myself in an in-depth cover-to cover study of every single verse of the Holy Bible that had anything to say on wine, drinking and drunkenness. Even though I badly wanted the Bible to endorse my firm DRC-influenced belief that drinking is a mortal sin, it did not. The Bible condemns drunkenness.

I will not cite any Scripture passages here as there are simply too many of them and also as this is not a theological treatise. Neither will I argue that at the request of Mary, Jesus turned water into wine [John 2] or from 1 Timothy 5:23, where St. Paul advises “Do not still drink water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thy frequent infirmities.” [Douay-Rheims]

I read about one of the recent Popes having his daily glass of wine and of monastic orders raising vineyards and making and selling wine.

This present report is not an apology for drinkers or an attack on those who campaign against alcoholism.

It is an assessment of the absolute condemnation of alcohol as evil by some Catholics.


I was gradually learning not to accept the teachings of anyone at their face value. I learned about the early Christians of Berea who did not blindly accept everything that Paul and Silas were teaching them. Rather, “they received the word with all willingness and examined the scriptures daily to determine whether these things were so”

Acts 17:11. We are thus enjoined to follow their example and do the same.
We check out what the CCC says.


Here, under the sub-heading

II. Respect for the Dignity of Persons

Respect for the souls of others: scandal

is what the CCC says [Source:]:

2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. the person who gives
scandal becomes his neighbor‘s tempter. He damages
virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual
death. Scandal is a grave
offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately
led into a grave

2285 Scandal
takes on a particular
gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little
ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”85
Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus
reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep‘s clothing.86

2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.

Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish
laws or social
leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious
practice, or to “social
conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian
conduct and obedience to the Commandments
difficult and practically
impossible.”87 This is also true of business
leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger,88 or manipulators of public
opinion who turn it away from moral

2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly
encouraged. “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!”89

Respect for health

2288 Life and physical
health are precious
entrusted to us by God.
We must take
care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common
Concern for the health of its citizens
requires that society
help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach
maturity: food and clothing, housing, health
care, basic
education, employment, and social

2289 If morality
respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute
It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for it’s sake, to idolize physical
perfection and success at sports.
By its selective preference of the strong over the weak, such a conception can lead to the perversion of human


2290 The virtue of temperance
disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur
guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

2291 The use of drugs
inflicts very grave
damage on human
health and life. Their use, except on strictly
grounds, is a grave
offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous
practices. They constitute
co-operation in evil, since they encourage
people to practices
contrary to the moral








In October 2007, a cautionary alert was issued by the international rating site
against the Catholic web site ministry of HolySpiritInteractive founded by
Aneel Aranha
of Dubai [AN EXTRACT]:

There is much to recommend about this site but readers should be aware of charismatic elements which confuse sound Catholic theology with Protestant Biblical understanding.



: Numerous articles by non-Catholic author, Marcia Montenegro


: Protestant approach


: Omission of Catholic approach in youth section

Protestant Christian music and “resources” under the youth/kids sections


: Total condemnation of any drinking of alcohol




Website Review: Holy Spirit Interactive

While there is much to recommend on this site (especially the articles by some excellent Catholic priests and apologists such as: Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Fr. John McCloskey, Fr. William Saunders, Mark Shea, Mike Aquilina, etc.) the main organizers of the site, Aneel Aranha and Dominic Dixon, promote Protestants and Protestant teachings over the nine sites that their ministry utilizes.
These various sites are all part of Holy Spirit Interactive.

Since Protestantism is so intertwined with authentic Catholic teaching on these sites we feel that we must give Holy Spirit Interactive a “yellow” rating even though parts of it are very good. We feel that there is too much for Catholics to have to sift through to find what’s worthwhile.


Total condemnation of any drinking of alcohol




From How sweet was the wine at Cana? By Aneel Aranha

I have little doubt that most of us, if not all, would consider nipping a shot of whiskey or vodka in a church an act of desecration. Yet, we would desecrate our own bodies with no second thought, unmindful of the fact that it is home to the Holy Spirit, who is God himself! The fact that God would, indeed, consider this desecration is obvious from this passage that Paul wrote to the Galatians:

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Let me abridge that in the event anyone missed out a word or two. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: drunkenness and the like. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

There are those who will still continue to justify their drinking by saying this refers only to people who get intoxicated. Frankly, at this point I begin to lose the plot. Why would anybody drink a foul tasting, foul smelling liquid that has no redeemable qualities whatsoever — on the contrary, whose qualities are proven to be detrimental to mind, body and soul — unless it was to get drunk?


For details, see

19 MAY/5 JUNE 2013







On the Internet, there are numerous articles, all of them Protestant, debating the pros and cons of drinking and smoking, especially the former. They argue for and against even the moderate consumption of alcohol.

There is no reliable Catholic information that I could find except these two, plus a third from my files:


1. Alcohol: Biblical and Catholic Teaching

March 15, 2007 – Written by Dave Armstrong, August 1999

Catholics believe alcohol is acceptable in moderation (which we would say is the biblical and traditional Christian view). We regard drunkenness as a sin. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns drunken excess and illegal drugs in #2290-2291:

The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.

In my understanding, the notion held by some Protestants that alcohol is intrinsically evil derives primarily (if not solely) from the temperance and prohibition movements in the mid-1800s and onward. Several denominations, such as the Presbyterians and the Methodists (maybe even the Baptists?), changed at that time from serving alcohol (following the implied “wine” of the biblical description) in the Lord’s Supper / Communion, to grape juice, almost entirely on political grounds: they were caving in to the temperance activists, in my opinion; adapting and compromising the gospel and Christianity to the political / moral and cultural fashions of the moment.

Lutherans and Anglicans have always used wine for Holy Communion. Neither Martin Luther (who was quite fond of wine) nor John Calvin (Institutes, 3:19:7; 4:13:9 – citing St. Augustine) opposed wine-drinking. Calvin casually assumes that wine will be used for Holy Communion (4:17:43), as it had always been used in the Church previous to that time. The third major Protestant Reformer, Zwingli, while rejecting the Real Presence altogether and adopting a purely symbolic view of the Lord’s Supper, nevertheless assumed that wine had always been used in the Christian celebration of the Eucharist, and kept on using it.

The weak arguments from the Bible used by fundamentalists to oppose all alcohol use whatsoever collapse upon even cursory examination, in my opinion. They try to assert that the biblical “wine” is merely unfermented grape juice. The term “strong drink, ” however, in contrast to “wine,” is seen, e.g., in passages such as Lev 10:9, Num 6:3, Deut 14:26, 29:6, Jud 13:4,7,14, 1 Sam 1:15, Proverbs 31:4, Micah 2:11 (cf. Proverbs 20:1, 31:6, Is 5:11,22, 24:9, 28:7, 56:12, Luke 1:15). This Hebrew word is shekar, defined by Strong’s Concordance (word #7941) as “intoxicant, i.e., intensely alcoholic liquor – strong drink.” Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon (1st ed., 1847; reprinted by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1979) likewise defines it as

strong drink, intoxicating liquor, whether wine, Nu 28:7, or intoxicating drink like wine, made from barley . . ., or distilled from honey or dates. It is often distinguished from wine . . . (p. 823)

Note that God doesn’t outright forbid this “strong drink” as immoral in and of itself. It may be avoided (along with wine) by some for fasting or ascetic (voluntary self-denial) purposes (as in Lev 10:9, Num 6:3, and Deut 29:6), but that is not a sweeping prohibition. In fact, in Deut 14:26, Moses (see Deut 1:1) says in so many words that it is perfectly acceptable to drink it. The writer of Proverbs advises giving “strong drink” to the dying, and “wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more” (31:6-7; NRSV). This is similar to the Apostle Paul’s suggestion to “take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23; NRSV).

In many of these passages, it is implied, however, that excessive drinking of this intoxicant, or drunkenness, is a bad thing, characteristic of the wicked. Thus, the Bible (and the Catholic Church, following it) condemns drunkenness, but not all use of alcohol or wine (e.g., Deut 21:20, Proverbs 20:1, 21:17, 23:20-21,29-35, 26:9, Is 5:11-12, Rom 13:13, 1 Cor 5:11, 6:10, Gal 5:21, 1 Tim 3:3,8, Titus 1:7, 2:3, 1 Peter 4:3).

Many OT passages praise wine (e.g., Jud 9:13, Ps 104:15). Having “plenty” of wine is a divine blessing (Gen 27:28). Wine was used at the ancient Jewish festivals (Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles), and on the Sabbath, and was offered as a libation in Jewish rituals (Ex 29:40, 1 Sam 1:24), which may account for its later use in the Passover Seder. The Talmud called for red wine to be used. The Last Supper was a Jewish Passover (see Mt 26:17 ff., Mk 14:12 ff., Lk 22:15 ff., Jn 13:1 ff.); hence Jesus undeniably used wine as the example of what was to become the Christian Eucharist.

Jesus partook of wine and was absurdly accused by His critics of being a drunkard (Matt 11:19, Lk 7:33). He turned water into wine (not grape juice), in His first miracle (Jn 2:1 ff.). Jesus drank wine on the cross:


A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

(John 19:29-30; cf. Mt 27:48, Mk 15:36; NRSV)

This word, oxos in Greek, is translated as “vinegar” in the King James Version. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (4th ed., 1901, rep. by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1977) defines it (Strong’s word #3690) as follows:

. . . used in the NT for Latin ‘posca,’ i.e., the mixture of sour wine or vinegar and water which the Roman soldiers were accustomed to drink. (p. 449)

In fact, the Roman soldiers offered this drink to Jesus before the crucifixion, and He refused (Mt 27:34, Lk 23:36, Mk 15:23). But the interesting thing is that the best texts of Mt 27:34 have the NT word for “wine,” oinos (Strong’s #3631), rather than oxos, thus strongly inferring that what Jesus was given on the cross was indeed wine, not vinegar. Likewise, even the KJV manuscripts (older and now outdated) have oinos at Mk 15:23:

And they gave him to drink wine [oinos] mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. (KJV)

Jesus refused this drink because it contained myrrh, which – combined with alcohol – would have had a narcotic effect. But he accepted this same drink without the myrrh on the cross, just before He died (John 19:29-30; cf. Mt 27:48, Mk 15:36). Some might still dispute that it was (or contained wine, with alcohol), but several modern translations render oxos at John 19:29-30, Mt 27:48, and Mk 15:36 as “wine,” “sour wine,” or similar description:

John 19:29-30: “sour wine” (NASB, Living, Phillips, NEB, NRSV, NKJV, REB, Wuest, Goodspeed, Beck, Williams),
“cheap wine” (TEV),
“wine vinegar” (NIV),
“vinegar (a sour wine)” (Amplified),
“bitter wine” (Barclay),
“common wine” (Confraternity, NAB)
Matthew 27:48: “sour wine” (NASB, Living, NEB, NRSV, NKJV, REB, Wuest, Goodspeed, Beck),
“cheap wine” (TEV, NAB),
“wine vinegar” (NIV),
“vinegar [a sour wine]” (Amplified),
“common wine” (Confraternity)
Mark 15:36: “sour wine” (NASB, Living, NEB, NRSV, NKJV, REB, Wuest, NAB, Beck),
“cheap wine” (TEV),
“wine vinegar” (NIV),
“vinegar [a mixture of sour wine and water]” (Amplified),
“common wine” (Goodspeed, Confraternity)

The conclusion is overwhelming: Jesus drank wine on the cross. It was the last thing He did before He died. Even modern revisions of the KJV and RSV change the “vinegar” to “wine” (e.g., NRSV, NKJV, NASB). Perhaps this was in part due to the sort of cross-referencing just examined.

The NT oinos [“wine”] was a fermented drink, though probably less strong than our current wine. Fermentation is implied, e.g., in the mention of the bursting of the wineskins (Matt 9:17, Mark 2:22, Luke 5:37). Eph 5:18 states that one can theoretically get “drunk with wine” and Paul commands us not to do that (cf. Jn 2:10). Wine is to be avoided if it stumbles a brother (Rom 14:21).

This is the biblical teaching on wine and alcohol. The Catholic Church follows it closely, while the absolute anti-alcohol position of some Protestant fundamentalists cannot possibly be sustained on a biblical basis. There is no biblical evidence whatsoever that unfermented grape juice was ever considered as “wine” (see, e.g., Gen 40:11-12). No amount of wishful thinking or Puritanistic moralizing can change that fact (and the others above).


Great, but what you fail to indicate is the level of alcohol content in the fermented wine was substantially less than what is today distilled, etc. The wine was also mixed with water and the amount of alcohol was not as substantial.
Therefore it should be made clear the wine of the biblical times is nowhere as strong as the wine of today.
I would also like to reference: Pastor David L. Brown

“yayin” (3196) [pronounced yah-yin] — This word occurs 140 times. It is a general term for grape beverages and includes all classes of wine, non-alcoholic or alcoholic; unfermented, in the process of fermentation and fermented. It was always diluted with water.
“shekar” (7941) [shay-kawr] — This Hebrew word occurs 23 times. It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine. The 1901 edition of THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA says “Yayin, wine, is to be distinguished from shekar, or strong drink. The former is diluted with water; the later is undiluted.”
“tirosh” (8492) [tee-roshe’] — This word is used about 38 times. It refers to fresh grape juice. It is referred to often as new wine or sweet wine.

There are some New Testament counterparts to these words.
“oinos” (3631) [oy’-nos] is the counterpart of the Old Testament word yayin. It is used 33 times. It is a general term for grape beverages and includes all classes of wine, non-alcoholic or alcoholic – unfermented, in the process of fermentation and fermented. It was always diluted with water. Often the context has to be used to determine whether the drink was intoxicating or not.
“sikera” (4608) [sik’-er-ah] is the counterpart to the Old Testament word shekar. It is the word for strong drink, unmixed wine.
“gleukos” (1098) [glue-kos] is the counterpart to the Old Testament word tirosh. “It refers to a fresh wine, a new wine”

Remember the Hebrew word “yayin” and the Greek word “oinos” that we looked at earlier? These were the companion words for wine whether fermented for unfermented. Remember, the key emphasis was on the fact that whether fermented or not, it was MIXED WITH WATER. –Cyber Tech Reviewer, USA



It was weaker than wine today, of course. No biggie . . . but they could still get drunk. If not, there would be no warnings against drunkenness in the Bible, would there? So the same dynamics apply: moderation is required. It was simply easier to drink in moderation than it is today. –Dave Armstrong


2. The Lost Art of Catholic

By Sean P. Dailey, April 13, 2012

This article originally appeared in the November 2009 edition of Crisis magazine

There is Protestant drinking and there is Catholic drinking, and the difference is more than mere quantity. I have no scientific data to back up my claims, nor have I completed any formal studies. But I have done a good bit of, shall we say, informal study, which for a hypothesis like this is probably the best kind.

To begin with, what is Catholic drinking? It’s hard to pin down, but here’s a historical example. St. Arnold (580-640), also known as St. Arnulf of Metz, was a seventh-century bishop of Metz, in what later became France. Much beloved by the people, St. Arnold is said to have preached against drinking water, which in those days could be extremely dangerous owing to unsanitary sewage systems — or no sewage system at all. At the same time, he frequently touted the benefits of beer and is credited with having once said, “From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world.”

Wise words, and St. Arnold’s flock took them to heart. After his death, the good bishop was buried at a monastery near Remiremont, France, where he had retired. However, his flock missed him and wanted him back, so in 641, having gotten approval to exhume St. Arnold’s remains, they carried him in procession back to Metz for reburial in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles. Along the way, it being a hot day, they got thirsty and stopped at an inn for some beer. Unfortunately, the inn had just enough left for a single mug; the processionals would have to share. As the tale goes, the mug did not run dry until all the people had drunk their fill.

Now, I’m not saying that Catholic drinking involves miracles, or that a miracle should occur every time people get together to imbibe. But good beer — and good wine for that matter — is a small miracle in itself, being a gift from God to His creatures, whom He loves. And as G. K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy, “We should thank God for beer and burgundy by not drinking too much of them.” In other words, we show our gratitude to God for wine and beer by enjoying these things, in good cheer and warm company, but not enjoying them to excess.

Just what constitutes excess is for each person to judge for himself. However, we now approach the main difference between Catholic drinking and Protestant drinking. Protestant drinking tends to occur at one extreme or another: either way too much or none at all, with each being a reaction to the other. Some people, rightly fed up with the smug self-righteousness of teetotalers, drink to excess. And teetotalers, rightly appalled at the habits of habitual drunkards, practice strict abstinence. It seems to occur to neither side that their reaction is just that: a reaction, and not a solution. If they considered it a bit, they might see a third way that involves neither drunkenness nor abstinence, yet is consistent with healthy, honest, humane Christian living.

Here we encounter Catholic drinking. Catholic drinking is that third way, the way to engage in an ancient activity enjoyed by everyone from peasants to emperors to Jesus Himself. And again, it is not just about quantity. In fact, I think the chief element is conviviality. When friends get together for a drink, it may be to celebrate, or it may be to mourn. But it should always be to enjoy one another’s company. (Yes, there is a time and place for a solitary beer, but that is the exception.)

For example: The lectures at the annual Chesterton conference are themselves no more important than the attendees later discussing those same lectures over beer and wine (we tend to adhere to Hilaire Belloc’s rule of thumb, which is to avoid alcoholic beverages developed after the Reformation). These gatherings occur between talks, during talks — indeed, long into the night — and we typically fall into bed pleasantly stewed. I cannot imagine a Chesterton conference without this. And yet I also know how detrimental it would be if we all stumbled back to our rooms roaring drunk.

Avoid each extreme — that’s how you drink like a Catholic. This is the art of Catholic drinking. There are plenty of our brethren who consider drinking somehow immoral, and there are plenty of others who think drinking must end with great intoxication. But the balanced approach — the Catholic approach — means having a good time, a good laugh, sometime a good cry, but always with joy and gratitude for God’s generosity in giving us such wonders as beer and burgundy. Remember that, and the lost art of Catholic drinking may not remain lost.





I disagree that conviviality (with those on earth, at least) is a quasi-essential aspect of ‘Catholic drinking’. There is as much wrong with having a beer alone as there is with eating chocolate alone, watching a sunset alone, reading a book alone, drinking coffee alone, or, pretty much, doing anything good alone. I think it is more often that people abuse alcohol in groups (which would not, however, justify a ‘only drink alone’ policy). I frequently drink alone; I had a beer earlier this afternoon (emphasis: A beer) while I read some of my homework about modernity and VAII, and it was quite awesome. In a little bit, I’ll be heading down to dinner to enjoy beer with my seminarian brothers and formators. My point is that, unlike a protestant conception which thinks alcohol is inherently evil, to Catholics it is, as it always has been, one of the basic goods of life–an ordinary part of your day–not something to obsess about. -Anonymous Seminarian

You ought to be more careful throwing labels around like that. I’m not Catholic, so you would probably label me Protestant. However, I’m familiar with what scripture teaches in regards to alcohol and it mentions nothing of the sort that it is regarded inherently evil. Moderation is the key. Like much of Catholic doctrine, the Protestants you’re speaking of here are holding their own experiences and traditions equivalent, or even above, the authority of scripture. Now you can see why that causes such confusion. -A Protestant

As easy as drinking is to make light of, it is the cause of many broken souls. The traditional Catholic moral theology understanding is that drinking is seriously evil when the drinker becomes so inebriated he can no longer make responsible moral decisions. That pretty much includes all drinkers who have had more than two or three drinks. Drinking often encourages anger and lust, and very often leads to an unchristian illicitness. Perhaps Mr. Dailey is better reminded of the alarming alcoholism numbers in Ireland before he makes light of alcohol use. -Allan

Allan, alcohol itself does not bring out anger and lust. It does bring down your inhibitions, and if you have underlying anger or lust, that will come out. There is this old habit, where a father would invite the suitor of his daughter for a meal, and would give the young man enough to drink to get him drunk. Then he would watch how the young man behaved. Would he become aggressive, or loud, or would he calm down or become quiet? That would give him a clue as to how the suitor would treat his wife to be, and give him direction as to allow the suitor to see his daughter, or not.

Also, God would never give us something that inherently would cause us to sin. Yet Christ himself changed the water at the wedding into wine (and not just any wine, but probably the best there has ever been), and used wine when he instituted the Eucharist.

As a brewmaster myself, I have spent many an evening with a group of very erudite friends, who love the selection of foods and drinks my table always offers. I never have sent any of them home inebriated. I cannot even remember when I had too much to drink myself. Our conversations span a wide range, from the mundane to the philosophical to the divine, from very lighthearted to very serious. So from my experience, Catholic drinking is far from dead, far from a lost art.

If you’re ever around, Allan, I’d love to invite you to my table as well, so you can see for yourself. I am certain we all would have a great time! -Brewmaster

Allan, respectfully, yes, while drinking to extreme excess is a sin, neither you nor anyone else can tell a person what, to him, may be excessive. But it certainly does not include “all drinkers who have had more than two or three drinks.” And what does the rate of alcoholism in Ireland have to do with it? And anger and lust may be encouraged by any number of things, not drink only. -Sean P Dailey

Allan, you must be drinking wrong. Sure, if you slam three beers in a row beer-bong style, you will probably impair moral decision making. However, one can easily drink six to eight beers (it all depends on the person) over a period of time, while eating food, in the right environment, and never even get buzzed. This whole thing is akin to pointing out how many people are led astray by sins of lust and thus concluding that a husband and wife having joyous marital relations while creating another human life is to be frowned upon. Catholicism is not Jansenism, let’s leave that to the Muslims and Calvinists…

-Professor Bo Bonner Obl OSB

it was Benedictine monks who invented Champagne. Also, whisky and brandy were made before the reformation, quite often in monasteries. -Allen Fennelly

There are those who have a very legitimate disease of alcoholism that do need to abstain from alcohol. Many of them are Catholic and would love to drink as you suggest, in moderation, but they cannot. There should have been at least some mention of this segment of the population in your article. -Sober

A Catholic moral theologian once said:

He is not drunk who prostate lies but can once more to drink arise,

But drunk is he who prostrate lies and can not drink and cannot rise. -Flamen

A great article and one that I will share on Facebook and Twitter.

When I was an undergraduate (1994), I took a course with an orthodox Jesuit priest. You could probably take a guess at who it was since there aren’t many orthodox Jesuits this side of Heaven. Ha! Nevertheless, I will never forget the lecture we received in the course one day about how beer and wine are God’s creations and how we should drink both in moderation. Somehow he got on this topic and we ended up never talking about Everlasting Man by Chesterton. I still remember the lecture to this day. He talked about the yeast and the barley with beer and the importance of growing the grapes properly. He even brought into the lecture how Jesus is the Vine. It was a great class!

In the same class, on another day, I remember we were reading C.S. Lewis’ – Miracles. So many of us were having a difficult time understanding it, especially chapter 4 – Nature and Supernature. The Jesuit priest happily explained it to us and then told us to go to the store, buy a six-pack of good German beer, and go to the park to read our C.S. Lewis and drink our beer doing it. He said that should help us understand it better. We all laughed.


A student (the only one who was over the age of 21 and now a priest himself) said to the Jesuit, all of these students (I was 20 and two months from 21) are underage and cannot purchase the beer for themselves. Without skipping a beat and with that Jesuit wit and sarcasm he said, then you need to go out and buy it for them because understanding the Divine Law is more important than any Civil Law. The class was laughing hysterically and we all wanted our beer that afternoon. I don’t think any of us got any (I had beer at home), but it was fun being in that class.

I will leave you with this poem taught to me by an old friend who first turned me on to GOOD beer –

In Heaven there is no beer,

that’s why we drink it here, and

when we’re gone from here,

all our friend’s will be drinking all our beer.

-Tom Perna

I certainly agree that there’s a Catholic ideal for drinking, and that certain Protestant sects are teetotalers with questionable reasoning, but I’m not aware of this drunken Protestant segment to which Dailey refers. I’ve seen just as many intemperate Catholics as I have Protestants, or even non-Christians. I agree with Dailey’s ideal of drinking, but not the dichotomy that seems to group all Catholics as living up to that ideal, and at the same time seeming to condemn all Protestants as being ignorant of or poorly practicing it. -Joshua Horne


3. Catholic MoralityIs it wrong to drink Alcohol?

Among the evils which society suffers nowadays, the excessive number of road accidents is without a doubt worth remembering. One of the causes of this evil is driving under the influence of alcohol. If drinking is sometimes dangerous, is drunkenness always morally wrong? Can we not admit that it is possible to drink in a reasonable fashion?

Is drunkenness always morally wrong?

Drunkenness is sinful only if it involves avidity and the immoderate use of alcohol. The state of intoxication may be divided into three cases:
    First case: If one drinks alcohol and is completely unaware that one is doing so to excess or that the drink is intoxicating, the consequential drunkenness is not culpable. That is, the complete inadvertence excludes sin.  Such was, for example, the case of Noah after the flood (Gen. IX 20-21).
    Second case: If while drinking, one is conscious of an excessive intake of alcohol, but sincerely unaware that drunkenness could follow, there is therefore only a small or venial sin.
    Third case: If one is perfectly aware of drinking in an excessive fashion and willingly accepts that drunkenness can follow, there is therefore a grave or mortal sin. In this case the deliberation and consent are complete and entire.

Why such strictness over culpable drunkenness?

    First reason: Drunkenness deprives us more or less of the use of reason.  Now reason is one of the faculties which distinguish human beings from animals.  To deliberately lose the use of reason reduces us to a level lower than that of animals because animals benefit from the instinct of self-preservation which the drunken person has lost.
    Second reason: Drunkenness deprives us more or less of the use of reason. Now it is through our reason that we adhere to goodness and avoid evil. To deliberately lose the use of reason thus exposes us to the danger of committing a wide variety of evils, reason no longer being there to control our actions.

Consequence: That is why anyone who dies after deliberately depriving himself of his reason through drunkenness goes directly to hell, as, for example, the apostle St. Paul teaches: “Do not err: neither fornicators nor idolaters (…) nor drunkards nor railers nor extortioners shall possess the kingdom of God” (I Cor VI 9-10).
Frequent drunkenness, besides, as a natural consequence, causes medically-proven detriments to health:
1. Liver failure and cirrhosis,
2. Brain atrophy and dementia,
3. Diarrhea and Peptic Ulcers,
4. Bleeding and Anemia,
5. Delirious tremens from alcohol with withdrawal.

Is there a place for moderate drinking?

If voluntary drunkenness is condemned, it does not follow that the drinking of alcohol is absolutely forbidden. Our Lord Jesus Christ made wine at Cana, and it was “good wine”, as the Evangelist Saint John remarked (II 10). Saint Paul even advised his disciple Timothy to take a little wine for his bodily infirmities (I Timothy V 23). Moreover, the book of Ecclesiasticus informs us (XXXI 36): “Wine drunken with moderation is the joy of the soul and the heart.”

But moderation is necessary in drinking if we want to avoid sin.  Such is the object of the virtue of sobriety. The word ‘sobriety’ comes in fact from a Latin word, ‘bria’, which means moderation, and one is called sober who maintains moderation. This is why Sacred Scripture teaches that: “Sober drinking is health to soul and body. Wine drunken with excess raiseth quarrels and wrath and many ruins” (Ecclesiasticus XXXI 37-38).

What persons are particularly advised to practice sobriety in consuming alcohol?

Young people because the ardour of their age could easily lead them into worse excesses.
Women because of their lowered resistance through consuming alcohol. That is why, as Valere Maxime tells us, in ancient Roman time, women did not drink wine.

Older people in order to instruct the young by example.
Political leaders in order to govern their citizens with wisdom.



“We say that we should shun drunkenness, which prevents us from avoiding grievous sins.  For the things we avoid when sober, we unknowingly commit when drunk” (St. Ambrose: De Patriarchis; Lib 1; Cap. 7).


Alcoholism among the clergy is a grave but suppressed issue in the Indian church -Michael

State Act to sack drunken bishops
Hyderabad, Deccan Chronicle, December 9, 2007:

The draft legislation for protection of Christian properties has provisions that govern general and religious administration of the church. According to the draft, a drunkard priest or bishop or even an archbishop who heads a Christian organisation can be sacked by the government-appointed board.
Clause 57(1) (e) says that the head of a Christian organisation “if proved to be addicted to drinking liquor or other spirituous preparation or is addicted to the taking of any narcotic drugs” will be removed from the post. It does not say who would prove that a man is addicted.
The draft says that those of unsound mind or suffering from mental or physical defect or are undischarged insolvent, those who continuously neglect their duties or commit any misfeasance can be sacked.
Priests who disobey orders of the Central and state governments and the proposed board will be sacked.
Other clauses deal with misappropriation of funds.
When contacted, the AP Federation of Churches executive secretary, Fr. Thumma Anthonyraj, said, “Usually the clergy is not addicted (to liquor) except in rare cases.” “How can the government interfere,” he asked, adding, “We are not servants of the state.” “If the priests are addicted they are sent for correction and reinstated,” Fr Anthonyraj said. “This power vests with the head of the denomination. Churches themselves take action.” Recently the Catholic Church of Hyderabad had sent a priest to a de-addiction centre and reinstated him.

Source: Konkani Catholics yahoo group digest no. 1304 dated December 10, 2007


Use of Mustum at Mass

ROME, June 13, 2006 ( Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: I am a priest in a religious community. One of our confreres is an alcoholic and for many years has abstained from alcohol, even if there is just a little bit in pastry. He is really faithful to his promise and I admire him for that. When he presides over our Eucharist, he uses mustum and, of course, all the participants communicate with it. Some have doubts about that way of doing things and think it may be illicit for them. (When he concelebrates, he takes only the consecrated host.) What do you think? Perhaps might it be better to have a second chalice with wine, as it is done when there is a larger number of concelebrants. We are usually about five. — R.T., Quebec province
A: The question of the validity of the use of “mustum,” or grape juice, for priests suffering from alcoholism or for some other medical reason was finally resolved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1994 in a letter signed by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Among other things this letter stated:
“A. The preferred solution continues to be communion ‘per intinctionem,’ or in concelebration under the species of bread alone.
“B. Nevertheless, the permission to use ‘mustum’ can be granted by ordinaries to priests affected by alcoholism or other conditions which prevent the ingestion of even the smallest quantity of alcohol, after presentation of a medical certificate.
“C. By ‘mustum’ is understood fresh juice from grapes or juice preserved by suspending its fermentation (by means of freezing or other methods which do not alter its nature).
“D. In general, those who have received permission to use ‘mustum’ are prohibited from presiding at concelebrated Masses. There may be some exceptions however: in the case of a bishop or superior general; or, with prior approval of the ordinary, at the celebration of the anniversary of priestly ordination or other similar occasions. In these cases the one who presides is to communicate under both the species of bread and that of ‘mustum,’ while for the other concelebrants a chalice shall be provided in which normal wine is to be consecrated.”
The document required furthermore that the ordinary must ascertain that the matter used conforms to the above requirements; that he grant permission only for as long as the situation continues which motivated the request; and that scandal be avoided.
The precise question in hand is addressed in points A and D. The priest in question should therefore not normally preside at a concelebration except for very special occasions. When such a situation arises, two chalices must be provided: one with mustum and another with ordinary wine.
Likewise, if the priest presides alone at a religious community Mass where Communion under both kinds is habitual for religious seminarians, then a second chalice with ordinary wine should also be provided. A deacon or at least an instituted acolyte should also be present to assure that the Precious Blood is fully consumed after Communion.
The reason why the principal celebrant in a concelebration may not avail of the permission to receive only under the species of bread probably derives from the necessity to assure that the sacrifice is completed before Communion begins. The sacrifice is completed only after the presiding celebrant has consumed both species. This is also why the individual priest must also consume both species before Communion begins. The faithful’s exercise of their baptismal priesthood is carried out with and through the priest. Thus, their full participation in the holy sacrifice of the Mass through Communion would be incomplete if the priest fails to first complete the sacrifice by consuming both species.



See also

The Use of Mustum and Low-Gluten Hosts at Mass

By the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 2003


Strong Brew, Theologically

By Elizabeth Lev,, January 26, 2006
The ancient Greeks invented the “convivium,” pleasant gatherings where youths and adults, mellowed by food and wine would talk of gods, politics and culture. While this custom had problematic elements for Christians — namely polytheism and a males-only rule — the last few years have seen the spirit of the convivium Christianized.
Theology on Tap was started in the United States as an initiative to get young people to talk about Catholic faith and issues in a less formal setting than a church or classroom. Invited speakers give a short talk and then answer questions afterward. The relaxed atmosphere (and happy-hour prices) tends to draw considerable crowds.
Here in Rome, Theology on Tap has been gaining momentum ever since it was started last year. Last Thursday, a particularly interesting talk demonstrated even greater values to Theology on Tap than just getting young people to talk about God in the pub instead of just sports or movies. Father Robert Sirico, president of the Michigan-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, opened the 2006 lectures with the provocatively titled talk, “Can a Rich Man Go to Heaven?” With hundreds of business students arriving that week to get their dusting in humanities, the talk couldn’t have been better timed. The aptly-named Scholars Lounge in Rome was packed.
Father Sirico approached the scriptural question with scriptural answers. He reminded the young people of Genesis, the creation of the world and that God deemed it “good.” He spoke of Adam and Eve and the dignity of human work. He reminded a rapt audience of how “God takes the material world seriously.” So much so that the Redemption took place in the material world. With a few well-delivered phrases, Father Sirico knocked down the barriers between business students and theologians, and he then went to on to find common ground for the politically left or right. Elucidating the dangers of “canonizing the poor while demonizing the rich,” Father Sirico also warned against “Calvinism on steroids” policies, which imply that attainment of wealth is a sign of God’s favor. In one of the most engaging moments of the evening, Father Sirico waxed autobiographical, revealing that briefly in his youth he had worn tie-dye and dreamed of redistributing wealth. The crowd, their jaws dropped in wonder, stared at the starry-eyed socialist turned captain of a Catholic think tank.
The discovery of Father Sirico’s remarkable transformation also answered the question that had brought everyone to the pub that night — “with God all things are possible.”

Elizabeth Lev teaches Christian art and architecture at Duquesne University’s Rome campus.



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