Prison officials in New Zealand are refusing to allow wine to be brought into jails, even for the celebration of Mass, the NZ Catholic newspaper reports.
Harry Hawthorn, the government's top prison official, said that the Public Prisons Service has "no discretion' in enforcing a 2004 law that bans "any drug, alcohol, or other intoxicating substance."
In previous years, prison officials had allowed an exemption for Catholic priests visiting the prisons, given them authorization to bring a small quantity of wine-- without which it would be impossible to celebrate Mass. That exemption has now been ended, NZ Catholic reports.
Peter Dunne, parliamentary leader for the United Future party, said that the prison policy "is stretching logic and common sense beyond any reasonable bounds." Citing the clear restriction on religious freedom, he promised to work to reverse the policy.