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Official word: The body of Christ is not and cannot be gluten-free

If you are Catholic, what if you are allergic to the body of Christ? The answer may be hard to swallow.

Monsignor Mark J. Merdian [pictured here] takes a stab at solving the problem. His analysis appears in the magazine Homiletic and Pastoral Review:

Celiac Disease and Holy Communion: A Medical and Spiritual Dilemma

In this article, I hope to inform as many people as possible … about the damaging spiritual and physical effects of celiac disease. And … provide resources and pastoral recommendations for caring for individuals who may be unable to receive the Holy Eucharist in the sacred host because of this disease

The first time I had to deal with the issue of celiac disease, I was the pastor of a large suburban parish when the parochial vicar came into my office and asked if we had any Communion options for those suffering from celiac disease. He asked if we provided the precious blood to them or offered them some other spiritual remedy. Sadly, I responded in the negative….

[A letter from the] the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) of the Vatican [specifies]:

  1. Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist….

His is not the only word. Here are others:

Celiac Disease and Eucharistic Communion,” Anne Bamberg, Jurist 61 (2001): 281.

Coeliacs, alcoholics, the eucharist and the priesthood,” Aidan McGrath, Irish Theological Quarterly 67, no. 2 (2002): 125-144.

(Thanks to Miss Conduct for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: Tom Lehrer’s view (in 1967, approximately) of the bureaucracy that, ultimately, decides such questions:

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