Wine is a Gift from God, says Pope Francis in Vatican
Pope Francis made the comments during a private audience at the Vatican with winemakers from different parts of Italy. Welcoming his audience, he joked: “This seems like a drunk pope”, and said: Wine, land, agricultural skills and entrepreneurialism are gifts from God. The creator has entrusted them to us because, with our sensitivity and honesty, we make them a true source of joy.
However, the Pope exhorted the winemakers to reflect on the moral and ethical responsibilities in their work and to treat their workers and the environment with respect while encouraging healthy drinking habits.
The event was organised by Domenico Pompili, the Bishop of Verona, before the Vinitaly international wine trade fair that takes place in Verona in Veneto in April. Pompili said the key to staying healthy was drinking wine in moderation, Even Saint Paul said that a glass of wine was good to cheer you up- but in moderation.
Francis had endorsed wine in the past as well. During an audience in 2016, he had said that wine was an integral part of a wedding celebration. “A wedding party where no wine makes the newlyweds ashamed, imagine you finish the wedding party drinking tea,” he had said.
The words have had a salutary effect on the Italian wine producers who have immediately embraced them and have fought against European health warnings. Italy has been resisting the EU proposals to make health warnings on alcoholic drinks mandatory across the EU after Ireland was given approval by the European Commission to adopt the measure. The move in Ireland, which was met with protest by Italy, Spain and six other EU states, will lead to health warning labels being placed on bottles of wine, beer and spirits from 2026, according to media report.
Wine consumption has steadily declined in Italy for the last 15 years with an increase in moderate consumption. Italian wine associations have often argued that Italians have a healthier relationship with the beverage compared with their counterparts in northern Europe. Federico Bricolo, President of Veronafiere, organisers of Vinitaly, said the pope’s tribute was a reminder that drinking wine was a symbol of tradition and a socially and environmentally sustainable economic system.
The skills of winegrowers are also valuable messages for the soul, Pope Francis said. “Wine, the land, farming skills and entrepreneurial activity are gifts from God. The event was dedicated to Italian wine and the economy of Francesco, an economy inspired by St. Francis of Assisi that respects the earth and promotes peace and justice.
“It is good that you find yourselves reflecting together on the ethical aspects and moral responsibilities involved (in wine production) and that you draw inspiration from the ‘Poverello’ of Assisi,” he told the group during the audience at the Vatican on Monday.