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Vatican reiterates ban on gluten-free hosts

An assistant prepares ciboria of hosts for Communion before Pope Francis' celebration of Mass marking the feast of Pentecost in St. Peter's Square (CNS photo)

The Vatican has reminded bishops that completely gluten-free hosts are invalid.

Low-gluten hosts, on the other hand, are valid for people who, “for varying and grave reasons, cannot consume bread made in the usual manner”, provided the hosts “contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread”, a circular letter said.

The letter, issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, urged bishops to look at ways to safeguard the validity of the bread and wine used for the celebration of the Eucharist.

It explained that because the bread and wine were no longer supplied by religious communities but “are also sold in supermarkets and other stores and even over the internet”, bishops should set up guidelines, an oversight body and/or even a form of certification to help “remove any doubt about the validity of the matter for the Eucharist”.

The circular letter, “On the bread and wine for the Eucharist”, was sent to diocesan bishops “at the request of the Holy Father, Pope Francis”. The letter was dated June 15 – the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The letter underlined that every bishop “is bound to remind priests, especially parish priests and rectors of churches, of their responsibility to verify those who provide the bread and wine for the celebration and the worthiness of the material.”

Bishops must also provide information to the producers of the bread and wine for the Eucharist, the letter said.