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Sacramentally over the limit?

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William Crawley | 09:56 UK time, Friday, 2 November 2007

A zero tolerance approach to drinking and driving seems attractive to a growing number of people. But, as Fr Brian D'Arcy was suggesting on today's Good Morning Ulster, that kind of policy may have a detrimental effect on priests carrying out essential sacramental duties. Catholic priests often have to drive between services at which they have consumed small amounts of communion wine. Alcoholic wine is considered an essential eucharistic element in most cases -- a priest may be granted permission to use non-alcoholic wine if he presents a medical certificate to a superior indicating that he has struggled with alcoholism or related conditions, but this is rare.

Currently, the UK and Ireland permit higher blood alcohol levels than many other EU countries (compare levels here) at 80mg. Sweden, by comparison, sets the limit at 20mg. A zero tolerance strategy would certainly raise concerns for priests who have consumed some wine at Mass, but there is still clearly room for a significant reduction in the UK/Irish blood alcohol limit without producing that unintended consequence. On the other hand, this European-wide debate may now force a Vatican rethink of the current rules on alcoholic wine at the Eucharist.


  • 1.
  • At 02:28 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Rhea wrote:

I think that a Vatican "rethink" on the use of alcoholic wine at the Eucharist would be a great thing. I think that other Christian denominations/groups that use alcoholic wine for communion should also rethink its use, if for no other reason than the fact that it seems SO MANY individuals now have problems with drinking, or at the very least have a close friend of relative with some sort of a drinking problem. I'm not sure that I see the "necessity" of using alcoholic wine for communion when it can, and is, a stumbling block for so many people in the world now.

  • 2.
  • At 09:03 PM on 02 Nov 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

The legal limit should be zero this would eliminate any ambiguity that there is to what is a safe amount to drink before driving as everybody’s alcohol metabolism is different.

  • 3.
  • At 08:17 PM on 03 Nov 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I have always found Priests and other clergy to be at their most interesting and lucid when they are drunk. But even if they aren't you can still have a lot of fun at their expense when they are in that state. The next round's on me Father. :-)

  • 4.
  • At 11:11 AM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • James Miller wrote:

As someone who lives in a rural area, I have two pubs near me. Both are about five miles away & the only way to get between home & the pub is with a vehicle. I only ever drink one pint & drive, every so often I am able to arrange a lift.

How would pubs like this be compensated for a loss of business due to a change in law? Our landlord has invested around a million in the pub, buying & refurbishing it.

Would the government allow landlords like this to buy a minibus & get free road tax & insurance that is subsidised by tax paid on alchohol?

I have my doubts; but there are always solutions, if we think outside the box.

The tax paid in a particular area, is not always in proportion with the service offered. On my vehicle for example I pay rediculous road tax & rediculous tax on fuel. Then I pay rediculous tax on alcohol. Can we not use some of this money to help get around the problem of drink driving?

  • 5.
  • At 02:43 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Padraig Coyle wrote:

Will, you're killing me. "..may now force a Vatican rethink of the current rules of alcoholic wine at the Eucharist".

You think the Vatican just invented the Eucharist and can change the recipe. Maybe we should a low-fat version cos of all this obesity. It has to be bread and wine and a male priest because that is the way Jesus wanted it and Jesus is God. Except in Sweden where you can't say that anymore.

  • 6.
  • At 04:59 PM on 05 Nov 2007,
  • Billy wrote:

Padraig Coyle what strength of wine would Jesus have used, surely the priest by his magical power can turn non alcoholic wine into the blood of Jesus just as easy as he can turn alcoholic wine into the blood of Jesus by his hocus pocus.......... He is not here, but has risen.

All nonsense so I might as well add this:



  • 8.
  • At 12:46 PM on 06 Nov 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Billy #6, religious theology aside, considering enological theology instead and discounting the lies of the false gods and prophets of marketing and advertising....THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS NON ALCOHOLIC WINE. IF IT DOESN'T CONTAIN ALCOHOL IT ISN'T WINE. WINE IS THE PRODUCT OF FERMENTATION OF GRAPES AN INEVITABLE BYPRODUCT OF WHICH IS ALCOHOL. Sorry for shouting, it was an out of body experience. This was a message directly from one of my Gods, Bacchus. You may sing his praises at your next religious ceremony. "Blessed are the winemakers for they shall inherit the earth."

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."

Now why do you suppose he feared no evil? Probably because he was shnokkered on all that wine his cup was runnething over with. Now that's what I call sommelier service, a god who sees to it that your wine goblet never runs dry.

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