IN A REVOLUTIONARY GESTURE intended to draw more American Catholics back to the church, Pope Benedict XVI has signaled his acceptance of a plan to offer parishioners beer instead of wine during Holy Communion.
The astonishing change, revealed in documents obtained by this reporter, is seen as recognition of both the decline in weekly church attendance as well as the continuing growth of full-flavored craft beer.
“Some people are going to be very surprised by this step,” said Rev. Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, a Vatican insider who confirmed the authenticity of the leaked documents. “But the Holy See is a German, and he understands that, these days, people would much rather enjoy a nice, cold beer on a Sunday morning than moldy sacramental wine.”
Authorities from the church’s Sacred Rites and Liquor Acquisition Division said the switch to beer would require a reversal of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which decreed that the Sacrifice of the Eucharist be celebrated with bread and wine. The use of wine during communion, however, goes back millennia, to the earliest days of the church.
Peter, the saint who is traditionally recognized as the first pope, is said to have brought a favorite bottle of Bordeaux to the Last Supper. According to the Bible (1 Corinthians 11:25), Jesus raised a toast, saying “This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” In Matthew, Jesus marvels at the bouquet and vows, “I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Recent translations of ancient texts, however, indicate that the phrase “fruit of the vine” refers to hops. And the “cup” may have been a frosted mug.
Indeed, some biblical scholars now believe the use of wine during communion stems from a faulty translation by Greeks. While the original Aramaic texts noted the disciples shared “strong drink,” a later translation attributed to the Grecian Order of Retsina substituted the word “wine.”
Liturgical traditionalists may balk at the change because the color of wine symbolizes the color of the blood of Jesus. However, earlier papal rulings instituted in a failed attempt to attract more Californians to church downplayed the significance of color by permitting the use white wine.
Further, a literal interpretation of the Catholic belief in “transubstantiation” would hold that it doesn’t really matter what is used during communion. Whether it’s wine or beer, once it is consecrated by the Eucharist, it becomes the blood of Christ.
“On the one hand, wine has a long tradition,” said Father Cerevisiae. “But, honestly, by the time I get waving my hands over the chalice, I might as well be using Pabst Blue Ribbon.”
Other Vatican sources said the change is long overdue.
“Look,” said Father Charles Papazian of Our Mother of Saint Zymurgy in Boulder, Colo., “Jesus was a carpenter. Does anyone really believe that, after a long day of raising the dead, he kicked back with a glass of Chablis?”
Several U.S. beer industry officials said they were thrilled by the proposed change.
“Definitely, this is a sign that beer is the new wine,” said Maurice Szyslak of the American Bartending Institute. “Beer is much more accessible than wine. I predict so many people are going to come back to the church, they’ll have to install tap handles at the altar.
“And if anyone’s really stuck on the color thing, they can always use a nice red ale.”
You searching for the proper beer for communion? Suggest these to your parish priest:
St. Pauli Girl (Germany) – A classic import brewed in honor of Mary Magdalene.
Unibroue La Fin Du Monde (Canada) – A strong Belgian-style golden ale, it’s the official beer of End Times.
Christ-Kindlsmarkt Bier (Germany)– Named after Him, it’s a malty lager available at Christmastime.
Keystone Light (Colorado) – A mass market beer for Mass.
Eel River Triple Exultation (California) – Rejoice in this strong old ale.
Rochefort 10 (Belgium) – A classic Trappist ale, it’s brewed and blessed by a Roman Catholic order of Cistercian monks.