does not apply

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 21, 2007

Bill Cork brings to our attention the proposal of Nebraska state senator (since modified) to ban consumption of wine by underage citizens during religious ceremonies.

Kruse said churches have alternatives to serving wine, including substituting grape juice for alcohol. Many churches, including the United Methodist Church, already do this.

But it's not a matter of simply substituting juice for wine, said Jim Cunningham, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference. The use of wine "has a deep meaning ... Theologically and liturgically, that is not acceptable."

So where's the problem? By the time the Catholic communicant receives from the chalice, what he's drinking has ceased to be wine. To suggest -- even in the act opposing it -- that the restriction would apply to Catholics is to tumble into the kind of solecism the half-heathen bride puts to her wedding celebrant ("Can Ryan and I drink the wine during that communion thingy?"). Instead of protesting the proposal, Cunningham should have given an official shrug: "Whatever's decided, it doesn't apply to us: see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1376."

It's more than a flippancy. It might have been an occasion to teach, memorably, what Catholics are saying "Amen" to in response to the priest's "the Blood of Christ." I can't believe that, even were the measure in its original form to become law, young Catholics would be arrested for receiving the Precious Blood. But even if they were, what better arraignment to answer for?

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 25, 2007 2:05 PM ET USA

    Under age catholics should be informed enough about the Eucharist to know and understand that the Body and Blood of Christ are both present in the Host. Therefore, they receive both even though they receive only the one species,bread. It would be wise if the pastors would ask that those under age refrain from both species until they are of the proper age. I have heard that some teens like to get around the "pledge" at Communion time.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 23, 2007 12:44 PM ET USA

    Reading this you would think it is a no brainer: Unconstitutional. Consider that Mormons cannot have multiple wives, LDS members cannot refuse certain medical treatments for their children, "Snake Handlers" have to have permits and are subject to restrictions. There are many other examples. Bottom line is that the "state" sees the Precious Blood as alcohol and will regulate it if given a chance.

  • Posted by: Hammer of Heretics - Jan. 22, 2007 7:56 PM ET USA

    Just how much wine do the youngsters swig down during communion in these protestant churches that this should even become an issue? You would think that there would have to be evidence of a major problem before this would ever be advanced as legislation. I mean, this seems like a clear violation of Church and State even from a protestant perspective.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 21, 2007 7:36 PM ET USA

    In addition to the fact that he neglected to mention that what is in the chalice is no longer wine, he also failed to mention that if it wasn't wine to begin with, it couldn't become Jesus afterwards, so it's totally non-negotiable. "Deep meaning" and "liturgically...not acceptable" is just lame. LOTS of things are not acceptable, but they don't invalidate the Mass.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jan. 21, 2007 2:08 PM ET USA

    I agree with Diogenes rather than Cornelius. The accidents remain but at a minimum, what the executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conferfence did was miss what these days is known as a golden teaching moment.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 21, 2007 12:03 PM ET USA

    Perhaps it has ceased to be wine, but its accidents - including the capability of rendering someone who consumes a sufficient amount intoxicated - remain. And presumably it is that effect that is the object of concern - isn't it? It was a hare-brained proposal anyway. Don't these politicians have anything better to do?