For some, alcohol is normal, if not necessary, part of life associated with happy memories and fun times. For others, it is dangerous substance, associated with pain and abuse, that should be avoided entirely. Both are very real, very important experiences. To say that alcohol is something everyone should share forgets the inability of some to control their consumption or deal with immense hurt caused at its abuse; to prohibit it universally to protect those affected by it forgets the pervasive and arguably inseparable connection it has to most cultures (our own most sacred liturgy requires it and was allowed to continue it even during the American prohibition… that’s how pervasive and inseparable it is!)
Because of this, I have been asked on more than one occasion as a friar, “Are you allowed to drink?” For some, the question is a question of morality, and seeing friars as penitents and holy people, they assume that drinking alcohol is too base of an act for us to engage in.
I assure you, this is not the case.
While drinking alcohol certainly has moral aspects, e.g. financial cost, sobriety, charity, affect on one’s work, inclusivity of those who don’t drink, etc., it is not, in itself, a moral question for Franciscans, nor do I find it to be a difficult question for Catholics in general. In essence, we recognize that it can easily be abused and we want to avoid that, but there’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine or a cold beer among friends. How often that occurs and in what quantity are two very different questions, but to all those wondering if we are still allowed to drink alcohol now that we’re friars, the answer is a clear “yes.”