NZ Catholic reports that priests and inmates will once again be allowed to consume Communion wine in prisons after a Corrections Department review of a current ban on alcohol in correctional facilities.
As reported by the paper in April, the Corrections Act 2004, which prohibited unauthorised items, including "any drug, alcohol, or other intoxicating substance" from being taken into prison, was also being applied to Communion wine.
Corrections Minister Damien O'Connor asked his department to review that prohibition, and the department announced on 11 May that, after consultation with the Prison Chaplaincy Service of Aotearoa New Zealand, an exemption had been granted to allow priests to take Communion wine into prisons.
It can be consumed by the priest and the prisoners, the Correction Department press release explains.
Paul Monk, acting general manager of the Public Prisons Service, said the Corrections Act provides the legislative framework for the department to stop contraband entering a corrections facility.
"Stopping the flow of contraband enables Corrections to rehabilitate prisoners in a safe, secure and humane environment," said Mr Monk.
The ban on Masses that ensued was an unintended consequence of those efforts.
"It is clear that the consumption of a small amount of Communion wine is not going to affect the good order of a prison," he said.
"In fact, it will support the invaluable role that the Church plays in the rehabilitative process of some of our prisoners."
Mr Monk confirmed the exemption will allow the consumption of Communion wine as soon as possible, while Corrections looks at how a more permanent amendment to the Act can be made.
Communion wine to be allowed in prisons again (New Zealand Catholic, 11/5/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Damien O'Connor (Wikipedia)
Prison Chaplaincy Service of Aotearoa New Zealand
New Zealand Public Prisons Service
Communion wine banned from Kiwi prisons (CathNews, 20/4/07)
16 May 2007