Dunne slams "political correctness gone mad"
United Future New Zealand leader Peter Dunne has labelled restrictions on Communion wine being taken into prisons — and
therefore the celebration of Catholic Mass — “another appalling example of political correctness gone mad”.
Mr Dunne’s comments come in response to a story in this week’s issue of NZ Catholic, the national Catholic newspaper,
outlining enforcement of a ban on alcohol in prisons, even for eucharistic purposes.
In the article, Harry Hawthorn, the head of the Public Prisons Service, confirmed that Communion wine cannot be taken
into prisons and said the department has “no discretion” in allowing an exemption to the Corrections Act 2004.
The Act prohibits unauthorised items, including “any drug, alcohol, or other intoxicating substance”, from being taken
“The last thing Parliament had in mind when passing the legislation in 2004 was banning the celebration of Mass in
prisons, and it is stretching logic and common sense beyond any reasonable bounds to imply otherwise,” Mr Dunne said.
“The Bill of Rights upholds all New Zealanders’ rights to freedom of worship, wherever they may be, and to deny prison
inmates the opportunity to go to Mass if they wish is a denial of their basic human rights.”
Said Mr Dunne: “I will be raising the matter with the Human Rights Commission. If this decision is allowed to stand it
will make a complete mockery of the recent statement on supporting religious diversity.”
An Auckland priest who has celebrated Mass at Auckland Central Remand Prison for more than two years was recently
stopped from taking wine into the facility. In Catholicism, both bread and wine must be used in the celebration of Mass.
In 1999, the head of the Corrections Department granted an exemption to the ban on alcohol in corrections facilities,
allowing up to 250ml of wine to be taken into prisons for eucharistic purposes only, the NZ Catholic story reveals.
New Zealand’s Catholic bishops are set to discuss the current ban on prison Masses at their biannual conference in
Auckland next week.