By Laura(The Gluten-Free Traveller)

If you are Catholic or have ever attended a Catholic mass, you have probably had experience of communion. However, part of the service includes breaking of bread and wine and we gluten-free folks obviously can’t eat normal bread.

Communion wafers are made from wheat and therefore are not gluten-free, so what do you eat if you are both Catholic and celiac? Gluten-free communion wafers of course! Various churches around the world are now offering gluten-free communion wafers for celiac and gluten intolerant folks.

But what if you were told that the lack of wheat in your gluten-free communion wafers meant that they don’t meet with Vatican standards?

This may sound a little ridiculous, but it’s a real issue for some gluten-free folks in Ohio. The Catholic Diocese of Columbus said recently that he doesn’t believe the gluten-free wafers meet Vatican standards because they do not contain wheat.

“For Catholics, consecrated bread and wine are the body and blood of Jesus, and the sacrament of Holy Eucharist is “the heart and the summit of the Church’s life,” according to its catechism.”

“Church law “calls for the host to be wheat and wheat only” because Jesus ate wheat bread with his apostles before his Crucifixion, said Deacon Martin Davies, director of the Office for Divine Worship at the Diocese of Columbus.”

Back in 1995, the Vatican agreed that low gluten hosts would be considered valid if they contained enough gluten to make bread. Those people wanting to use this low gluten option then had to present a medical certificate in order to gain approval from a bishop.

In 2003 the need for a medical certificate was then taken away and the Vatican said that Catholics with celiac disease could receive Communion with just the wine.

This is fine for some people but there are many Catholics with celiac disease or gluten intolerance who want to participate in full communion, including bread, so this low gluten communion wafer is their only options.

Two different low-gluten wafers have been approved by US Catholic bishops. One is the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Missouri and the other the Parish Crossroads in Indiana. These wafers are said to contain less than 100 parts per million although the labeling legislation the US is aiming for and what is already in place in many countries throughout the world is that a product cannot be considered gluten free unless it contains 20 parts per million of gluten or less.

What are your thoughts on this? Does your church offer low-gluten communion wafers?