Q. In a recent discussion on Prohibition the question came up about the Church’s response to the use of wine at Mass. Much searching on the Internet didn’t reveal an answer. With no alternative to using consecrated wine, was the Church exempted or did she defy the law?
P.W., Grand Rapids, Mich.
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:
The 18th Amendment, forbidding the manufacture, sale, import or export of intoxicating liquors, was ratified officially on Jan. 16, 1919. The Volstead Act (the means of enforcing the 18th Amendment) was passed that same year over the veto of President Woodrow Wilson. The Volstead Act included a provision by which liquor intended for use for medical and sacramental reasons was exempt. Thus the Catholic Church received a dispensation from the law when it came to the use of wine. Notably, the wine that was made for sacramental use by churches helped many vineyards to survive during the era of Prohibition.