BY CECILIA BROMLEYMARTIN
THE WORRYING INCREASE IN
alcohol consumption in British and Irish seminaries has led the Vatican to bar alcoholics from entering the priesthood.
From now on, Catholic alcoholics will be forbidden to enter the priesthood, although alcoholics who are already priests will be offered a dispensation.
Fr David FitzGerald sP, one of the directors on the board of the National Catholic Council on Alcoholism and Drug Related Issues (NCCA), told the Catholic Herald: "This is a very unfortunate decision, and I hope the Vatican will be open to dialogue on the matter.
"An active alcoholic would have a very difficult time ministering, but there pre a number of recovering alcoholics who are tremendous and who have done great work; and they have an awful lot to offer those suffering from drug, eating and sexual addictions," he said.
The Vatican has also decided that priests with digestive problems brought on by wheat flour will he barred from entering the priesthood, on account of their allergy to the gluten in the Communion wafer.
The decision has upset many since Archbishop Derek Worlock of Liverpool is himself allergic to gluten. "It has caused enormous complications, especially when he's been ill with something else," said a spokesperson from the Liverpool Diocese curial offices. "But he's just learnt to live with it."
According to sources within the Vatican, the decisions stem from a recent letter in which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the bishops of the United States that American priests suffering from alcohol-related illness could consecrate unfermented grape juice in place of Communion wine, and those suffering from coeliac disease could use low-gluten wafers.