Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
The Catholic Church drills into every one of her children that drunkenness is m unjustifiable sin. But we refuse to admit that prohibition should be enforced pon all. The particular abuses do not justify so sweeping a thing as abolition of Irink altogether. You don't throttle a man because one tooth is aching. The Church loes her duty in this matter in a sane way. Meantime, drunkenness is not the only ivil. Drink itself is not forbidden by the law of God. Divorce and birth-control ire forbidden. What is Protestantism doing to wipe out these evils? It scarcely illudes to them; or if it does, it does so in order to sanction them.
Nowhere does God forbid wine or alcoholic drink. And the Catholic Church asists upon justice. It is unjust to forbid all men to drink even in moderation ecause a few take it to excess. This is an unjust interference with individual iberty. And in any case you cannot force people to be virtuous. The failure of be American experiment has shown that. If a man cannot take drink moderately be Church advises him to take the pledge and practice total abstinence. But prohibition is like abolishing table knives because some men have used those implements for purposes of murder and suicide.
What do you mean by no half-measures? For the man who cannot resist getting drunk, I admit that there are no half-measures. He must inflict rigorous prohibition on himself, and if necessary the law must forbid him to be served with Irink. If you mean that prohibition must be inflicted on everybody, I deny your issertion. Such prohibition is as extravagant, and therefore as unreasonable, as die loctrine of a man who would insist that you must always employ a steam-roller to rack walnuts. Would you agree with his argument that because you are opposed o the use of a steam-roller to crack walnuts, you are opposed to the cracking of walnuts at all? We all agree about the sin of drunkenness. We disagree about the means to be employed in its prevention. Drunkenness is repugnant to Our Lord. But His first miracle was to change water into wine for the simple joys of a wedding-feast. He had no objection to the use of wine. He objects to the abuse of it If some men abuse their liberty by thieving, we do not think to stop thieving by abolishing the use of liberty and locking everybody up in jail. And we are not the less Christian for sane conduct.
The moral is that no man should be deceived into drinking to excess. Thus St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "Be not drunk with wine." Eph. V., 18. Yet in his first Epistle to Tim. V., 23, he writes, "Do not still drink water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thy frequent infirmities." Our Lord Himself blamed the Pharisees that they accused John the Baptist of having a devil because he abstained from drink, but when they saw Christ Himself drinking wine in moderation, they said, "Behold a man that is a glutton and a wine-drinker, a friend of publicans and sinners." Matt. XI, 19. Let us have temperance by all means. But there is no warrant in Scripture or in reason for prohibition.
All of them have to keep special supplies of altar wine. Over and above this altar wine, reserved for sacramental use, drink enters some presbyteries, but not others. It depends upon the needs of the individual Priest. If a Priest took drink to excess, he would be guilty of sin, and a worse sin than a layman would commit owing to the scandal given by violating the dignity and requirements of his sacred office. Otherwise there would be no harm whatever in a Priest taking drink in moderation.
Some take it moderately; some do not take it at all. I have known one Bishop who would eat none but brown bread, and another who would never touch it as not agreeing with his health. The advice given by one Catholic Bishop to another I have recorded above in giving you St. Paul's words to Timothy.
That all depends upon the intention with which one takes it. If taken in moderation for the sake of health so that one may the better fulfill his duties for the love of God, it is virtue to take it. If taken merely for the sake of taking it, such use of drink would not be virtuous.
You have not understood the Catholic attitude. But, in any case, if you see a drunken man, it should affect your faith in that man, not your faith in Christianity. If the man professes to be a Christian, you must blame him for not living up to his belief. But Christianity is all right. If it told him to get drunk, it might be different. But it forbids him to do so. Don't lose your faith in Christianity, but persuade drunkards to live up to its obligations.
The Catholic Church does not make light of so grave a sin. It is an evil which leaves every one of us very miserable indeed. Man has obligations to God, to himself, and to his neighbor. Such drunkenness violates all three obligations. Few things so destroy God's image and likeness in man as excessive drink. Other vices leave him with reason at least. But, as Father Burke so well said, "Reeling from the hotel, the drunkard has laid the image of God upon die altar of the meanest and most despicable of all devils—gluttony." As regards himself, the drunkard loses health, respect, friends, happiness, and much else. For if a man dies in almost any other crime, he has his wits about him and can call upon God for mercy and forgiveness. But if he dies in drunkenness, he is incapable even of an act of repentance. And as regards his neighbor, surely first and foremost come his wife, and his children, his parents and other members of his family not to speak of his duty to his employer and professional clients. Yet what greater misery can a man bring upon the woman who confided her youth and heart to him forever, than that which his drunkenness inflicts upon her? And his own children are filled with shame, disgust, and scandal. No prohibitionist can speak more strongly against drunkenness than the Catholic Church; for she has a heart full of compassion for the homes wrecked by this vice, and of indignation that God should be so ofiended.