Vatican Ruling on Gluten Free Communion


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Friends, it’s not “new” news that the Catholic church requires gluten to be part of the bread or host used for Holy Communion, but due to this letter being posted by the Vatican on July 8th, it’s been  circulating through the media so I thought I’d share.

From the letter:

“The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition.  It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.”

Clarification about gluten:

“Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.”

I personally struggle with this so much because it leaves millions of Catholics in a quandary who are either Celiac, gluten-sensitive or follow strict dietary lifestyles in their efforts to treat and control control auto-immune conditions. The “low-gluten” hosts are said to contain less than 100 parts per million, but that amount of exposure can and will set off antibodies that can set one back for months (the hosts have tested as low as 32ppm, but that is still much higher than the FDA’s regulation of 20ppm for items labeled “gluten-free”).

I’ve seen how the tiniest exposure has caused this for my own clients and through my own personal experiences, and the exposure may even prevent the opportunity for the body to fully heal. Since Catholics generally take Communion weekly, it means they have to choose between optimal health or partaking in this important Sacrament. Neither choice seems to be a good one! (I am formerly a Catholic, so this topic is near and dear to my heart. I really struggle with anyone having to forego something as important as partaking in Communion.)

Are there any options?

To clarify, in order to participate in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, one may accept the Precious Blood (wine) in place of the bread or host. However, if anyone has already dipped their bread or host into the wine, as I’ve seen happen regularly, it will be contaminated with gluten and they may still become ill or ignite antibodies. One may request to be served first to avoid this situation.

So although it isn’t new information, it seems to be a reiteration – I hope that parishes who have adopted their own policies to better serve their parishioners don’t feel pressured to eliminate their options.

What are your thoughts about this? I would love to hear your opinion.

Of course, we’ve been offering grain-free, allergen-free wafers as a Communion option for a few years now, and I’m incredibly thankful that my own church utilizes them. We’ll continue to seek an audience with the Pope to address this important issue!

-Jen of The GGF Gourmet

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