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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Catholic Church Votes to Address Gluten-free Communion Issues

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: Wikimedia Commons--G. Sfasie

    Celiac.com 11/26/2014 - Catholics with celiac disease received some hopeful news recently, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted overwhelmingly in favor of drafting of a revision to the Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities. The vote was 207 bishops in favor and one against, with one abstention.

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons--G. SfasieThe bishops voted to change the guideline to accommodate people with celiac disease and others who cannot consume wheat, and have been unable to take full communion.

    Because churches are required to serve communion wafers that contain wheat, numerous people have been unable to consume the wafers, and have thereby been missing out on what many deem to be a crucial part of communion.

    Some Catholic churches have tried to accommodate people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities by offering low-gluten communion wafers. However, even the low-gluten versions approved by the church generally did not meet the FDA standards requiring less than 20 parts per million of gluten, and were thus unacceptable to many with celiac disease or severe gluten sensitivity. For these people, even small amounts of the wheat gluten can cause health problems.

    Exactly what changes the bishops will make regarding the Eucharistic wafer remain to be seen. Ideally, the new guidelines will permit wafers that are safe for people with celiac disease, and which will permit them to enjoy full communion.

    How do you feel about this? Is it welcome news? Do you know any catholics who’ve been missing out on communion? Stay tuned for more news on the new guidelines.

    Here, you’ll find a copy of the November 2014 USCCB General Assembly Agenda Item Vote Results.


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    I'm a bit skeptical of how substantial the changes will be, and would still be concerned about mix-ups among the hosts, unless ALL wafers became rice-based, or some such.

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    If you are knowledgeable on Catholic doctrine, you would know that Communion under EITHER species is FULL Communion. I venerate the host and then go to the chalice to receive Communion. I have never felt deprived.

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    My Catholic church provides a gluten free host - no wheat at all - for my son. It is kept in its own container at the altar, the priest does not touch the host but instead tips over the container into my son's hands to ensure there is no cross contamination. When I had to originally approach the church about it their response was that it was their duty to make sure my son could take communion safely, the priest had no issue with the wafer having no wheat. I'm pretty sure the brand is EnerG, made with sweet rice and potato flour.

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    Good news, but I wonder if they will go far enough. I am one who does not have a severe gastric reaction but 24-36 hours after receiving my low-gluten host (handed to me in a separate pyx, I have an outbreak of dermatitis herpetiformis rash, usually on my neck. I can only guess at the damage receiving communion does to my small intestine. Anyhow, I live in hope.

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    If you are knowledgeable on Catholic doctrine, you would know that Communion under EITHER species is FULL Communion. I venerate the host and then go to the chalice to receive Communion. I have never felt deprived.

    Amen

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    Glad to see article. I receive the Precious Blood. Both the Host and the wine are fully the body blood soul and divinity of Jesus. Not every. Catholic understands this, unfortunately. You are not "missing out" if you can only receive the wine. No one has the authority to use a non-wheat host. I have wondered if a gliadin-free wafer could be produced.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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