Catholic attitude toward Prohibition


Prohibition is essentially an extreme measure, while virtue lies always in the mean. The extreme may be necessary for those individuals who have lost the power of self-control, but the necessity of the individual cannot be made the necessity of the entire class. Nevertheless the American government has declared the use of alcoholic beverages illegal, except for sacramental purposes. Is the use also immoral? Howsoever they may vote, in practise the people seem to solve this question for themselves, and in the negative. This nullifies the attempt to reform the evils of drinking by resort to legislation. A reform, to be effective, must be from within, but the advocates of prohibition have started from without. The result is the present state of affairs, in which the authorities are preoccupied with evils arising from the sale and use of liquor while other crime flourishes. There can be no doubt that reasonable laws enacted by the state bind in conscience, but to be reasonable a law should not infringe upon the liberty of the individual, and it should be directed to the good of the individual. It should also be capable of enforcement. The prohibition law fails on these three conditions. Nil molentum perdurat (nothing violent lasts); this must apply in due time to the prohibition movement as well as to other unreasonable methods of reform. Excess in one direction occasions excess in others, and this explains why drinking intoxicants now is more common and vulgar than ever before in the United States. It is this excess which has confirmed other countries in their more reasonable methods of regulating the liquor trade.

MLA Citation

  • “Catholic attitude toward Prohibition”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 12 June 2010. Web. 2 December 2021. <>