What’s the Story with Low-Gluten Hosts?

Some parishioners have asked about the latest hubbub concerning the Vatican’s “new” announcement that gluten-free hosts are now not allowed.  First of all, this is not new.

In 2003, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI), then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote in a letter that “hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.”  Unleavened wheat bread is required for the Eucharist in the Roman Rite Catholic Church.   In the same letter, the Cardinal also wrote that  that “low-gluten” hosts are valid, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten so as not to alter the nature of bread.

St. Thomas and Our Lady of Lourdes have used and continue to use low-gluten hosts made by the Benedictine Sisters in Clyde, Missouri. The low gluten hosts are made from gelatinized wheat starch. According to the sisters, they were tested to a level of 0.01% gluten. These hosts have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic bishops for use in the celebration of the Eucharist for people who are sensitive to gluten.

However, for some people who are extremely sensitive to gluten, even the low-gluten hosts may not be an option.  In these cases, the person may choose to receive the Precious Blood alone. The Church teaches (confirmed at the Council of Trent) that “the whole and entire Christ and the true sacrament are received under either species.”  Further, a person receives the fullness of grace of the sacrament whether just receiving the Sacred Host alone, or the Precious Blood alone, or both together. (Catechism)

The “Low-Gluten” hosts are available at  St. Thomas and Our Lady of Lourdes for those who have Gluten Intolerance. What we ask is that you stop in the main sacristy before Mass and request that a low Gluten host be consecrated for you at that Mass.  Questions?  Ask Deacon Kevin, Fr. Rick, or Fr. Z.