Sheriff Al Cannon said a Catholic jail chaplain’s ouster because of the use of wine during Mass is a “non-issue,” but he said the priest would remain outside the facility’s walls because of a “disconnect” with administrators.
Cannon also said during a media briefing that 1 ounce of wine for priests’ use would be allowed but that the Sheriff’s Office would consider whether to make that a permanent policy.
Monsignor Ed Lofton was booted from the jail after refusing to stop bringing wine into the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center. Lofton claimed that he used only 1 ounce for himself.
But Cannon said today that jail administrators were under the impression that Lofton wanted to give wine to the inmates.
Chief Deputy Mitch Lucas thought that Lofton had never used even small amount of wine, he told The Post and Courier, even though Lofton had been celebrating the Eucharist at the jail for about 15 years.
Lofton added that several chaplains have had difficulties using other needed items for Mass, such as a chalice. The issues arose late last year, but Lofton was allowed to continue using wine until this week, he said.
The jail’s administrator said wine has never been allowed at the facility.
Lofton, who leads St. Theresa the Little Flower Catholic Church in Summerville, served as a reserve police officer before joining the priesthood as a second calling. He regards the prison ministry as a vital part of his mission.
He also worked as a chaplain at the North Charleston Police Department, when Cannon was chief of the agency.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.