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Chaplain barred from celebrating Mass in South Carolina jail

May 24, 2012

A Catholic chaplain has been told that he cannot celebrate Mass in a South Carolina jail.

Msgr. Ed Lofton, who had been celebrating Mass at Charleston County jail for 15 years, was blocked from entering the facility because he was carrying altar wine. The jail’s policy bans all alcohol, and while state regulations in South Carolina make an exception for sacramental wine, Charleston County does not.

Msgr. Lofton reports that he bring a single ounce of wine to the jail, all of which he would consume himself. Prison officials told him that he must substitute grape juice. But a valid Mass cannot be celebrated without wine.


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  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - May. 25, 2012 12:29 AM ET USA

    Wow, this is an example of how zero tolerance policies can go awry. I'm sure that the spirit of the law doesn't concern itself with 1/8th of a traditionally measured (from New England, gimme a break) glass of wine. I am surprised to see this coming out of SC, but then again, perhaps not so much given the Protestant presence there.

  • Posted by: Rex - May. 24, 2012 8:14 PM ET USA

    This is an important issue and the battle must be fought and won. In the meantime, the inmates must not be denied the sacraments. A Holy Communion Liturgy using the Reserved Sacrament in one kind only may not be the ideal, but will allow the prisoners to participate sacramentally in the mystery of Christ's sacrificial love. This would not be a compromise but a pastorally warranted emergency measure.

  • Posted by: davidSanDiego - May. 24, 2012 6:56 PM ET USA

    I should be possible to obtain permission from the Bishop to use "mustum" (google it) which are freshley pressed grapes with no further processing. The tradition is old and nowadays particularly relevant in the case of alcoholic priests. (I'm not defending the action of Charleston county.)

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - May. 24, 2012 6:27 PM ET USA

    This is clear anti-Catholic activism of the kind seen around Prohibition. Grounds here for a first amendment lawsuit.