Church Bans Gluten-Free Host for 11 Year-Old Celiac


I know. I know. There are three things you shouldn’t discuss, or in my case blog about, if you don’t want to get into an argument.

Politics, sex and religion.

And believe me, I’m not looking for an argument, but I just couldn’t let this one go.

Please keep in mind this is nothing against the church so read the following with an open mind.

There is an 11 year-old girl in Ohio with celiac disease. Before she received communion for the first time, her mom talked to their priest about the girl’s celiac disease.

The priest ordered gluten-free hosts and held one on a separate plate on the day she attended Mass. Before Mass, her mom would let the priest know they were there. The girl also wore a beaded cross made by her grandmother as a reminder.

So far, this is a great story. A child has celiac disease and the church goes out of its way to help her. It’s a win for everybody.

This is where the story should end.

But of course, it doesn’t.

About four weeks ago, the word came down from the Catholic Diocese of Columbus that the hosts didn’t meet Vatican standards because they didn’t contain wheat and they could not offer her the gluten-free hosts anymore.

A low-gluten option was available, so she tried it. But, she said, “it tasted disgusting.” She has decided to receive just wine when she takes Communion, even though that makes her sad, she said.

(Dude note: Why did her mom allow her to eat a low-gluten option if she has celiac disease. Seriously, I just don’t understand some people.)

“She was pretty upset about it,” the mom said. “I think she was afraid people would think she wasn’t Catholic if she didn’t take the host.”

Church law “calls for the host to be wheat and wheat only” said the director of the Diocese.

In 1995, the Vatican said low-gluten hosts are valid if they hold enough gluten to make bread. Worshippers wanting the low-gluten option were required to present a medical certificate and obtain a bishop’s approval. The policy was loosened in 2003 to eliminate the medical-certificate requirement and to allow pastors to grant approval.

But, alas, the Diocese has made their own decision and now the girl cannot have the host.

So my question is this:

Where is the compassion? Where is the understanding? Where is the flexibility in the rules so that an 11 year-old girl can partake in a religious ceremony that is very important to her?

I know all people view religion in their own way and whether I agree or disagree, I’m very respectful of that.

But to me, at the end of the day, religion should always be about doing the right thing.

And the right thing here is clearly offering her the gluten-free host.

Who is getting harmed if she has the gluten-free host?

I would love to hear your opinions on this one.

Perhaps I am missing something. Perhaps I’m not. You tell me.

All I know is my god wouldn’t give a crap if I had a gluten-free host. He/she would just be thankful I actually went to Mass for a change.

Here is the link to the original article:

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159 thoughts on “Church Bans Gluten-Free Host for 11 Year-Old Celiac”

  1. the church has no right to legislate like that. They don’t OWN the body and blood of Christ. But the Catholic church will never budge on this, they are very legalistic. Law is more important than the people. Personally, I haven’t received communiion for years, but I really dont care. God, Jesus know why I hold back, and I use that time in the service for prayer. The Church doesn’t own me either! By the way, I certainly don’t attend the catholic church anymore!!

    1. The Gluten Dude

      Any religion where the law is more important than the people is not a religion for me. And I’m Catholic.

      1. Agree totally. The Roman Catholic church has turned its back on living breathing temples that actually are filled with the Holy Spirit in favor of some silly wafer and the percentage of gluten REQUIRED in it to be “valid”. When they are able to choose a very small BUT very measurable percentage of glute

        I have read the entire New Testament, and the story of Jesus’ requests and directions at that meal (which we are supposedly doing in his memory) and there is nothing about any percentage of gluten.

        They have missed the point entirely. It is legalistic ad fails to demonstrate God’s infinite love.

    2. I am also a gluten free catholic. My church can not provide gluten free hosts because otherwise the mass would be invalid. This is a century old tradition. The wine is a special privilege for priests only. So what i do is that i take communion in the spiritual form. I encourage all to research it since it solves the gluten issue with no harm to anyone.

  2. I was baptized Catholic and raised in the Episcopal church and Communion is huge. I know for a fact that there are Catholic nuns who make a gf communion wafer that contains wheat, but still passes gluten-free testing standards at less than 20 ppm, which is most likely the wafer that she found disgusting. I was diagnosed 2 years ago, and I miss taking Communion. I recently started attending a small Episcopal church, that I love. The first time I told the priest that I couldn’t take Communion because I have Celiac, he said “But we can get you gf wafers!”, as he is Australian and very familiar with gf. I haven’t had them order them because they are costly. It makes me sad that a church would be so willing to exclude anyone, but especially a child. I hope the family escalates this to the Bishop, Archbishop, etc. of their Diocese, so that this girl can take part in her faith.

    1. The Gluten Dude

      The fact that the mom allowed her to have a low-gluten host leads me to believe she will not take this to a higher level. Makes me sad for the girl.

      1. I’m curious as to why she (the mom) allowed her daughter to drink wine from a challis that people eating traditional host were also drinking from…cross contamination!

        1. Low gluten is still poison to us. Do you see people with peanut allergy eating ‘low peanut’ food???? No. But because the reaction they get is outward, immediate and severe it’s taken seriously. Not so for us. We die inside quietly. Please do not think I’m knocking peanut allergy. I’m grateful everyday I have cd and not nut allergy. But sheez people’s ignorance, arrogance and lack of compassion frustrates me!!!!!

        2. They break off a small bit of the wafer and put it into the wine as part of the ceremony. The wine is contaminated ON PURPOSE by the priest even before anyone else drinks from it.

  3. You’re not missing anything. You are right on the money. I’m Catholic but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I don’t take the host anymore because of the gluten. It appears they honestly don’t get how to treat others with respect and it’s not just this topic. I don’t understand the backward thinking and the inhumanity that goes along with it. And honestly you can’t defend this. You can’t.

    But I have heard of churches providing a gluten free option so the church as a whole may not get it but individual churches within the Catholic Church do so there is hope. They need the same thing that’s always needed: Education.

    Side note: I use to teach first communion…did it for 6 years. Had to stop because of my health and the lack of organization in the program. I had to fight hypocrisy within the program and in the church. I always taught my kids that God, Jesus, , Saints, etc love everyone but if we commit sins that hurt others and ourselves then they would be very disappointed with us and then we had to deal with the consequences of our actions. Never had a kid with a gluten intolerance or allergy, well that I knew of. *sigh* the stories I have. Lol crazy part in my life!

  4. This upset me when I read it. It’s so hard to fathom that the Catholic church has to be like this.
    I am Lutheran and luckily my church understands why a GF host is important. Initially, my church said that I should dip my GF host into the cup where everyone else dipped their non-GF host. I knew that would cause me problems and I spoke up. Luckily a nurse spoke to the pastor (w/o me saying anything) and explained the problem with dipping into the communal cup. Now there’s a separate tray with the GF host and small cups of wine for those in need of it.
    I don’t feel slighted in the least that my host does not have wheat in it.

  5. I’m Catholic and by no means am I offended. Actually I’m ashamed.

    Gotta love this quote-
    “The Vatican has provoked fury by issuing a decree banning men who suffer from an allergy to gluten from becoming priests.”
    It’s from the link below. Which surprisingly also has posts from people who are ALLOWED to bring in their own Gluten Free Communion Wafers.

    Then we have this lovely, which just makes me do a whole lot of wondering….

    And to cheer everyone up

  6. Karen Ingraham

    I don’t understand what the wheat content has to do with whether or not it should be approved by the church. Is there somewhere in the bible that says that it has to contain wheat? I haven’t seen it…
    And the mother should be cautious about letting her drink from a communal cup where people who ingested a gluten-containing host just put their lips…cross-contamination hazard, I believe. There’s no excuse for excluding someone with celiac when the solution is simple and non costly. Yet another example of “people just don’t get it.”

  7. I read stories like this when I first went searching for a gluten-free communion cracker earlier this year. We only take communion at our church about once a month, so I planned to just keep a bag in my purse for those times. The church office ended up ordering some to keep around for whoever needed them, but they seem to be lost…so I usually just break off a piece of whatever gluten-free bar I have in my bag at the time. We are non-denominational and believe communion “bread” can mean any kind of food that believers are sharing together. Stories like this frustrate me.

    1. The Gluten Dude

      The fact that you’re AT church puts you about 75 steps ahead of me as far as being a “good catholic” is concerned. Who cares what kind of host you have? It’s strictly symbolic.

  8. If your parents won’t advocate for you as a child, then who will? Sigh. Pre-Celiac, when I was a kid, I was involved in church camp, and inevitably we ran out of wafers by the last session and would end up using whatver bread product was available. The priest once had to use leftover blueberry muffins during on very memorable service. I was 36, almost 37 when I got diagnosed and my mom immediately got us each a cookbook and learned all she could because I am still her child. Also, my priest offered to get me a cup that only I would drink from to avoid cross contamination. My heart breaks for this girl.

  9. I’m beyond disgusted. this is totally ridiculous. So it’s more important to have the gluten-filled wafer and continue to poison someone than make a minor change when someone’s health is at high risk? Seems Satanic to me. If Jesus were alive, he would be appalled.

      1. This is crazy! My church has a gluten free station for our communion and has even started serving gluten free options at gatherings. It helps that one of our pastors is gluten intolerant!

  10. This is just another example of man-made rules taking on more importance than the act itself. Jesus did not give a recipe for what the bread should or should not be made of, he only said “Take this and eat it, for this is my body” (Matthew 26:26)

  11. Believe it or not, this has been going on for quite some time, even before the ban. I even blogged about it because some people really pissed me off (I mean SUPER pissed me off more than the people with Celiac willing to eat Domino’s gf pizza). People with Celiac willing to take the low gluten host in order to stick with Church law. Which if I’m not mistaken, has been unchanged in forever (maybe I exaggerate). As a Christian whose father’s family is Catholic, I understand the desire to follow Church law. But as a Christian who understands that at the end of the day, God is about love and not blind following. As a Christian I also understand God would not want us to eat something that makes us sick KNOWING that it makes us sick. The Catholic Church needs to change the laws about the hosts in order for those who can’t have it, to partake…because heck, we know that if people are seen not to take communion in Catholic church the first thing that comes to mind is, HEATHEN. The low gluten host is supposed to test under 20ppm and uses wheat starch. However, to me, low gluten is still gluten no matter where it falls on the testing. If something has wheat in it, I’m not touching it. And I’m certainly not drinking out of the same cup as everyone else who has had a gluten-full wafer. And seriously, what are some parents thinking when they put their child’s health on the line like that? Makes me mad!

    1. Ooops, I was wrong. It’s been a while since I did any reading on the low gluten hosts. They test under 100ppm, which the church keeps saying is safe….but it really isn’t.

      1. “low-gluten” crackers are a sorry substitute for the regular ones. Anyone with Celiac who is willing to eat “low-gluten” crackers must be brainwashed by guilt of the church and meanwhile, truly puts their health at stake. So sad.

        1. Exactly. I got into an argument with people in the local Celiac Support group over this topic a year or so ago (which resulted in my blogging about it) in the email group because so many were knowingly using it because that’s what the Catholic Church said they had to use because of Church law. It got a bit ugly because they thought I was attacking their faith and the Church. Well, okay maybe I was attacking the antiquated Church laws, but I definitely wasn’t attacking their faith. They just didn’t like that I pointed out the truth of what they were doing to themselves.

          1. You raise a good point..

            I have discussed this issue with my own GF Mom who went GF at 84 after my very long illness and hard-won diagnosis. When she realized both she and my Daddy were likely celiacs as well, (he is now deceased, but in retrospect, he likely died from complications of it, given his symptoms) she went GF after I explained the genetic issue and my test results. I am proud of her and I give her major kudos for doing this. She feels great!

            She feels she is okay risking it once a week at mass because she says “at my age I do not want to change or make a fuss”.

            I respect her decision.

            I said, “That’s your call, Mom” and I let it go.

            Like anything else in life, I pick my “celiac battles”.

            I felt like I was a major sinner sitting there, unable to receive communion. An outcast.

            Between that and everything else, I just stopped going. I do not need an organized religion to honor God.

            I can do that but going outside and looking up at the sky.

      1. Amy -The Quirky Gluten Free Runner

        Dang right, and he’d converse with those less fortunate than him, unlike some of the political pundits of the day who only want to. . .
        wait, i’m getting off topic 😉

    1. Probably get angry at how his message of love for one another has been so grossly distorted by various church doctrines ?

        1. One or two at least.

          There are many stories of Jesus getting irked at humans and their stupidity. He put up with a lot of malarkey from friends and foes alike

          Fortunately, he was also big on forgiveness.

  12. There seems to be a common thread here–what will the other parishioners think? What will church leadership say? Will they think I’m not catholic? An important lesson for this little girl might be that she shouldn’t worry as much about what people think about her illness and choices, but her personal relationship with God. God would want her to treat her body well. It’s a shame her mother doesn’t realize that–she should be embarrassed. If the host were made of peanuts would they want a child with an allergy to die to prove her devotion? This is detestable. My own self-care will never be adjudicated–especially not a church. Only God can judge me.

    1. The Gluten Dude

      The better question is a simple one: what is right?

      Or even more so, what is more important? The health of a little girl or an interpretation of a 2000 year old tradition.

    2. Amy -The Quirky Gluten Free Runner

      I was always taught not to sit close to the confessional, as it’s a sin to be able to hear what’s going on inside (and having a hard of hearing priest made for having to sit far back. . . when I was forced to go to confession) and . . .
      that trying to figure out why someone does not go to communion is not acceptable.

  13. sigh

    Since I gave up on the RCC after the priest pedophile scandals (protecting pedophiles is unforgivable) and my divorce, which (gasp) made me no longer suitable to be a Eucharistic minister and remarriage (which—gasp again– made me a harlot),
    this last issue solidified it for me a few years ago.

    I have not taken a wheat communion wafer since my DX and likely, I never will again.

    They think they have done us a favor by using “low gluten” hosts?
    What’s the matter with rice flour wafers??
    The other churches allow it!!

    I cannot imagine the church would “shoot itself in the foot” by turning away MORE members now by not allowing a GF wafer. (since the majority of Catholics are Irish and Italian I am guessing, and those are the largest celiac populations…. )

    And not allowing celiac priests? well that IS just ridiculous–they need all the priests they can get!!!
    NOW they are screening for “unsuitable issues” in these men?
    O M G (I sometimes wonder if God isn’t up there, just shaking His sad head at us all thinking, man, they messed this up….)

    The church has lost more members to the pedophile scandal than anything else. This just seals the deal.

    The RCC will go the way of all dinosaurs.Die out eventually.

    BTW, it does not matter what the hosts “tastes like”. This kiddo is taking in gluten. Sharing a chalice of wine is still going to give her low gluten. Her mother is not very wise.

    sigh again

  14. Our church only does communion about once a month. I’ve yet to ask them for a gluten-free option and I wonder what they would say? They are very accommodating and since we have a huge special needs ministry I’m sure they either have some or would be open to it. I usually take my own but stories like this don’t surprise me.

  15. My pastor will not allow me to use gf hosts even if I purchase myself. And I cannot take the wine because others dip the hosts in it. Makes no sense to me but it does make me angry.

    1. The Gluten Dude

      I’ll ask a very personal question. Not because I’m questioning your belief system or anything like that, but really just curiosity. Because I’m sure there are many, many more who are in the same situation as you.

      What makes you stay with that church?

      If I was with ANY organization that had zero tolerance for my well-being, I couldn’t leave fast enough.

      1. I am a Gluten Grain Allergic Catholic. I am allergic to the grains that contain gluten, and thus cannot eat, touch or breath in any part of these grains without having a reaction. I eat/drink any microscopic amount of these grains, I get a gastric response. I touch touch them for an extended period of time, and I start to get painful blisters (had dough caught in the crevice of my wedding band from my pre-gf days, and couldn’t wear my rings for weeks…). I breath in flour or pollen from these grains, and I have a debilitating cough for weeks afterwards… Spring is a lovely time of year for me. :/

        I am so sensitive, that if I drink from a cup that has been shared with someone who has received the host, I will have a minor reaction that will last a day or two.

        Yet I am still Catholic, even though my new priest doesn’t understand that I cannot ingest the GF host because it is made with Wheat Starch. That’s ok. He’ll learn, and I understand. Not only do I understand why he doesn’t understand, I also understand what Communion is, and why it must be the way that it is.

        The Eucharist comes to us from the Last Supper of Christ. The Last Supper was the Passover Meal. So to understand why the Eucharist is the way that it is, in truth, the entire Mass, we must come to understand the Passover Meal, from which the order of the Mass finds its roots – from the readings to the prayers, from the blessings to the shared meal, even its some of its symbolism.

        I don’t know what you know about Jewish Tradition, and my own knowledge is surely lacking since I am not Jewish myself, so if I say something out of turn for those readers who are Jewish, please accept my sincerest apologies now. I am explaining things as I understand them, and I do not mean to mislead anyone.

        Jesus had sent his disciples ahead to prepare the Passover Meal. By the time of the Crucifixion, the Passover Meal rituals were already quite “set”, deeply steeped religious symbolism, and in the some 2000 years since haven’t changed all that much – some no longer serve lamb because of the fall of the Temple in 79 AD.

        Part of the Passover Meal is the Matzo – a flat unleavened bread, which commemorates the flight of the Israelites from Egypt. The Matzo symbolizes freedom and redemption, modesty and humility. It was the hastily prepared “Daily Bread” if you will. To be Kosher for Passover, the Matzo must be made with unleavened (unmoistened) wheat flour, and water. (Side note: As soon as the wheat flour becomes wet, or even moist, there is an 18-minute time limit to get it cooked so that the flour will not become “leavened” – thanks to the gluten in the flour.)

        Three Matzo are placed on the table, wrapped in a clean cloth. At one point, the leader of the meal – the one saying all of the prayers and leading the celebration – takes the three Matzo, chooses the middle Matzo, breaks it in half, leaves half on the plate, holds up the other half and says: “Behold the Matzo, the bread of affliction our ancestors ate when they were slaves in Egypt. Let all who are hungry and in distress come and celebrate with us. Would that all who are in need could join our Pesach feast.” (Our Haggada, by Cokie & Steve Roberts, Harper Collins Publishers, 2011, pg 30)

        Note that the Middle Matzo symbolizes the Passover Lamb, and it is believed that Jesus took this broken Middle Matzo to institute the Eucharist. We know what Christ said after he had blessed the bread, as he shared the bread with his disciples: “Take this, all of you, and eat of it: for this is my body which will be given up for you.” The cup of wine comes, it is believed, from the third cup of wine in the Passover Meal – the cup of redemption.

        (Keep in mind that all baked goods served at the Passover Meal are made with ground up Matzo…)

        This is the reason that the Church cannot accept wheat free hosts as acceptable substitutes. They are not “Kosher” to the Passover Meal. Even if they could accept other forms of Matzo, the only acceptable grains for use in making regular Matzo are Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats and Spelt… You’d almost think that God has something against people who can’t eat Gluten! 😉 In all seriousness though, that’s pretty much what it comes down to.

        To address another concern about your post, I think that many people have forgotten the reason for communion. It’s not meant to “taste good”. It’s meant to unite us to Christ in a very intimate way. You don’t have to be catholic to taste a host, just eat an unconsecrated host… (if you don’t have to be on a GF diet, obviously…) – you’ll see that the things taste like dry little pieces of round cut out cardboard at the best of times. In my glutened days, I used up many a mouthful of spittle trying to moisten the host so that I could swallow it! The regular host is made up of regular flour and water. That’s it. The low-gluten host is made of wheat starch and water. That’s it. It’s all that can be allowed to be in the recipe for making the host, much like Matzo – wheat and water.

        We should also note that this child had probably not eaten wheat since she was very young (if at all), and she surely would find the low gluten host to taste strange. It’s made with something she’s never eaten before, and would only ever receive at communion – Wheat Starch. Which one of us can say that we have always LOVED everything we’ve ever tasted for the first time, or even the first few times? Sushi was definitely an acquired taste for me, and my husband still hates tomatoes… So yeah, it is to be expected that she wouldn’t like the “new” host. It’s different, and she can’t remember the last time she had anything like it before.

        Beyond that, we must also consider who has given the ok on the use of low-gluten hosts.

        The Church has only given its ok on the list of ingredients of the low-gluten hosts, it was in fact pleased that test results proved that it had such low gluten levels as to make it safe for those who are restricted to a gluten-free diet.

        The Center for Celiac Research showed that the less than 0.01% gluten content of the low-gluten hosts would be perfectly safe for most celiacs, and that someone with Celiac Disease would need to “eat 270 wafers every day to reach the danger point.”


        In my case, it’s not a question of gluten. In my case its actually all parts of the grain, so even the wheat starch is out of the question. I can only receive from the cup, or make a Spiritual Communion. And I am happy with that, because no matter what others think, the important thing is that I take time to unite myself to Christ more closely so that I can more fully follow His way.

        This is probably all clear as mud, but I had seen a lot of “We should be able to do it OUR way!” without consideration for either WHY we do it this way, or even the fact that we are called to be less “Me” focused and more “Christ Centered”.

        1. What a wonderful response! It is not about “us” and if we like how the Host “tastes”….it is about receiving the actual Body of Christ. If the Host is safe, which if it is 0.01% and you have to eat 270 at a time, I would say it is…..then how it tastes should not matter and this discussion is not necessary. The Church is following Christ and what He taught…it is not the author of how Communion is to be, it is the one who preserves the Truth. Remember, for Catholics it is not a “symbol”. If not for the Catholic Church, there would be no reception of truly consecrated Hosts…ones that are the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. Its not about rules, its about validity of a Sacrament.

  16. My friend’s LDS (Mormon) church allows them to use rice crackers.

    How enlightened and considerate of their member’s health. :>)

    1. I’m a little late to the party, but that is hardly news. I was never more grateful to be Mormon than I was after my diagnosis. As I was recovering from surgery but before I headed back to church I suddenly panicked. GAH!!! Sacrament every week? What do I do? I thought. I quickly met with my bishop who explained that we have a fair number of people with multiple food allergies and some other celiacs. We are all asked to sit in more or less the same area, to make passing easier on the young men. They use Schar saltines to accommodate everyone, gluten, nuts, dairy, soy, thankfully there is no egg issue! The first week, as I was getting used to gluten free stuff I nearly choked on it due to the texture. I was afraid I would burst into flames! Haha

      There are stories of WWII, where on Sundays the soldiers and even poor congregations with little else would bless and pass potato peels. It isn’t about what you are putting in your mouth. It is about the keeping of the tradition and commandment. It is about remembering.

      Of course, everyone is entitled to their own view on it. It simply bothers me that a small girl would be all but bullied into eating gluten by religion.


    I just contacted our parish and asked about the “low gluten hosts” that they offer. I was directed to the above website which explains how the host is made and what the response has been. We have never taken communion because hearing “low gluten” to me, means it’s not for us. While we are not currently practicing our Catholic faith (for many reasons), I still have the desire for my children to receive the sacraments. Our youngest daughter is due to receive her Frist Communion next Spring and I have no idea how to handle this. Please share your thoughts after reading the information on the above site. How does this compare to the 20 ppm standard?

    1. The article is assuring you that the level of gluten is so low it is “safe for gluten intolerants”. (Like most prepared foods that are certified GF)

      It comes back to the same issue: gluten lite and low gluten
      is NOT the same as gluten free.

      We need to choose how much gluten to purposefully expose ourselves to. I took a chance on a dip mix labeled GF that was “packaged in a facility that also packages wheat” and I was ASSURED by the company it would not affect me. They told me they have won awards from celliac orgs, etc. I NEVER do anything this stupid. I ate two bites and knew in my heart I had screwed up. ..and I have been suffering here for 5 days thus far.
      This is my body system and others may have not noticed a thing.

      You will have to decide for yourself if this miniscule amount is safe.

      A rice cracker would have NO gluten, but they are unwilling to bend on canon law.

    2. The Gluten Dude

      I agree with Irish. It’s a personal choice that only you can make.

      But to me, low-gluten does not suffice.

  18. A fellow church member once told me “The regular host won’t hurt you, because God won’t let it hurt you.” Had to bite my tongue and walk away. Still such a long way to go toward Celiac education.

    1. You have great restraint (chuckling here)
      I always love it when people assume “what God does”.
      I could have snapped back “Really? And how often does God intercede like that?” (as if God is a giant deflecto-shield)

      God also gave us BRAINS to think with.
      And He tells me to avoid the very thing that tried to kill me.

  19. It seems that in the situation, the focus is less on the principle/act, and more on the way it’s carried out. With any religion, getting lost in the details can be deadly to your faith.

    Most people would agree that the very basic description of a faith is “There is a God, and God is Love” (for the most part at least). But then we want to understand specifically what this means? What should we do? How should we act? How should we express out love back? With imperfect humans wrapped up in religion, mistakes and imperfections will happen. Commonly this is when we get lost in the details. Clothing, music, prayers, attendance… there are good practices that can help your faith grow, but when you forget about the purpose and meaning behind the practice, it doesn’t matter how closely you follow the “rules,” if there’s no heart in the action, it’s meaningless.

    The author is right to be upset… the faith was lost in the details in this story. The only way to change that is with action on the part of people that have not lost sight of the big picture, and do not have gluten-free host as being more important than salvation.

    A good reality check for all of us in our faiths

  20. I have read some of the comments and while I respect them I also would add that after our diagnosis the thought of never returning to the communion table was overwhelming! Our church offers the low wheat wafers that test less than 20ppm and on the “half full” side I’m am grateful that they continue to work on options so that we can come to the table. Our church had gone to great lengths. First the provide a special “vessel” that each of my children have a d keep in their personal possession at all times. When we arrive at church to go to the tabernacal to received the special host. They pick their host so that no one else touches it. They take the vessel to the priest and it is placed on the alter and blessed with the other host still inside the safety of the container. One daughter “sensitive and not celiac” chides to receive the low wheat gluten host directly from the priest. She then takes the other with her back to our seat and gives to her celiac sister! They do not drink the wine as it is a communal cup and due to the material the chalice is made with is only hand washed and wiped therefore unsafe. Please note that anyone can “serve” the wafer. You just can’t serve yourself! Our church continues to work with us and has been amazing in developing safe procedures to allow my family to return to the table! Love my parish and all who have helped make our gluten free journey a little easier!

    1. It is wonderful that your parish has given you a communion pyx to use for your own hosts and they understand the concept of cross contamination. Kudos to them for that.

      It is your choice to take the host and as I respect my mother’s decision to continue to do so, I also respect yours.

  21. I was born and raised Catholic. Went to mass every week, even was an alter boy for a few years. After going to a Catholic school for K-8, I was voted most likely to become a priest (I was the “best” Catholic of the bunch). That was then.

    Now, I’m on the other side of the fence. Living in California, I’ve been exposed to so many other religions and belief systems, that I cannot honestly say that my views and beliefs are completely in-line with those of the Church. I won’t get into my personal beliefs here, but this is just another reason in a long line why I don’t go to mass anymore.

    My coworker can sum up my emotions right now better than I can: “When the Church welcomes ALL of God’s children with open arms equally, then I’ll go back.”

    1. Amy -The Quirky Gluten Free Runner

      I like your coworker’s statement.

      I say that I’m a Catholic full of love the way Jesus was, not the full of hate and protector of sinners the way it is now.

  22. Miss Dee Meanor

    I certainly do not agree with the Catholic church and understand the upset over “low-gluten” wafer. I personally would not trust anything but gluten-free. However, I have exercised my freedom to NOT be a member of the Catholic church. My church does provide me with a gluten-free wafer, but for years I simply did not participate. .

    Let me be the Devil’s Advocate here. (Funny phrase when we’re talking about religion.) There is a separation of church and state. No one is forced to attend church, to partake in the rituals, or to believe what any particular church believes. No one is forced to have faith period. Each religion has its own interpretation of Biblical instruction and different “rules” for different rites..There is never a perfect fit, but usually we pick a church that comes as close as possible to our own belief system. If it does not, then we move on or opt out altogether.

    While I understand and agree with the opinion Catholicism really needs to move up to present-day, I question the thought of forcing any church to change it’s basic doctrine beliefs even if Celiac Disease was labeled a disability. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it is my understanding that the Catholic church believes that wheat must be present even if it’s a low quantity to be considered the Body of Christ. From your comments I’m assuming that not one member is forced to eat the gluten or the “low-gluten” wafer or excommunicated for not participating. If the Church believes wheat MUST be present to be considered the Body of Christ, how can you force them to do otherwise? Hopefully, they will change with enough discussion, but I truly doubt it will be in my lifetime.

    Okay, Devil’s Advocate viewpoint over.. .

    1. A celiac would not be excommunicated for not partaking in communion, he would just be missing the essential part of the Mass.

      Catholics believe that the consecrated host IS the Body of Christ.

      The Church does not believe “wheat must be present” to be the Body of Christ; it’s canon law states it must be made from wheat to be as close to the bread that was made during the time of Jesus.

      What makes it the Body of Christ is that the Catholic Church supports the Real Presence i.e. that the reality of the bread is changed into that of the body of Christ. It is called “transubstantiation”,

      It’s not about wheat or gluten, It’s about tradition. It’s about the unwavering truth (according to the doctrine of the RCC) that through transubstantiation, that host is not bread anymore, it’s the Body of Christ.

      1. Miss Dee Meanor

        So should the canon law be changed to say it does not have to be made from wheat? I suppose I’m confused as to what role canon law plays in the faith and how important it is to the Church to follow it to the letter. Thanks for the clarification. As I stated, I’m not Catholic and am here to learn.

        1. The link provided earlier by Rachel provides the explanation of how the host “should be” made, but here it is again:

          I almost spit my drink out on my laptop. (I can tell you are not Catholic because you would not have asked this question and you are so sweet to ask)

          Hon, they do not CHANGE canon law. That’s why the RCC is so archaic.

          It’s never going to happen.

          I have a better chance of going backwards, becoming 22 again and gaining a spot on the Rockettes than having THAT happen! :>)

          It’s considered THE LAW. Ruled by the Vatican. It’s a LENGTHY and complicated explanation and it’s ruled solely by men. You can read this (or watch paint dry, depending on which would be less boring :>) ):

          1. Amy -The Quirky Gluten Free Runner

            And it’s why the Church continues to protect priests who are pedophiles. . . it’s about maintaining the secrecy of the laws and who wrote the bible (many parts were written 100s of years after Christ died) . . . priests and popes weren’t always celibate.

            But once things get put into Canon law it’s hard to take them out. . .

            hence, why the current (creepy looking) Pope is trying to undo everything Pope John Paul II did and the “Vatican II” which allowed for a more compassionate Church than had existed previously. Benedict wants things to go back to the way they were 200 years ago.

            And don’t forget, ti’s okay for men to do what they want, but women are to remain virginal until marriage. . . and Jesus never had any siblings either 😉 because people never talk about them and hellllooo, you wouldn’t expect a married couple in 20AD to have sex, would you?

  23. None of the above mentioned practices are in the Bible. I’m glad that not only does the God I worship NOT require me to consume gluten in order to please him, but that I don’t follow any man-made traditions that don’t actually please God. Many people are not aware of what God truly requires.

  24. The interesting part to me is that the RCC cannon law stipulates that wheat must be included to make the host “valid”. During the time period when Jesus lived bread was just as likely made with any number of grains that are not wheat. For all we know they were eating millet bread at the last supper.

    I am sure I can’t convince the church of this, but I trust the scientific and archeological record on this one. Just like I trust that God does not want me to risk my health in order to symbolize my faith.

    1. Miss Dee Meanor

      That’s the biggest irony, Karin. Biblical “wheat” in no way resembles what we call wheat today and yet I think people visualize the Last Supper with Jesus breaking open a a bag of Wonder bread.

      1. Miss. Now I want to go paint a picture of the last supper in wonder bread colors! Totally agree with you- even if they were eating bread made from Wheat flour the gluten content would have been waaaaay lower than what we have today.

  25. Hey! This is a local news story to me 😉 I heard about this yesterday and I actually know of the woman who’s child was banned from having the gluten-free communion wafer from our Gluten Free Gang of Columbus. Yesterday, the dietitian that runs the Gluten Free Gang (Mary Kay Sharrett, she’s quoted in the article) said on our Facebook page that the low gluten wafer “is safe” because it’s “only” 0.004 mg and it takes about 10 mg to have a reaction. I don’t know what to think.

    Also, love this: “All I know is my god wouldn’t give a crap if I had a gluten-free host. He/she would just be thankful I actually went to Mass for a change.” I find myself saying “my god..” all the time. Because my god wouldn’t agree with a LOT of things the church tries to pretend is “God’s will”. Ah well…

  26. I am Catholic, but I seriously don’t understand why this law exists. Why would the host have to contain wheat?? For what purpose? I agree, where is the compassion? The law was written by man. God would rather have people look out for themselves & their health, I’m sure. I don’t receive Communion anymore & God understands. I agree with those of you who said God wouldn’t agree with this “law.”

    1. Here is what they explain:

      ” The Catholic Church is firmly rooted in Scripture and Tradition. In keeping with the belief that Jesus used a wheat bread at the Last Supper, the Church has required that breads used for communion be made with wheat and contain gluten.

      As stated before, the celiac community needed non-gluten bread.

      We prayed for divine inspiration as we began to research how we could meet the requirements of both these groups we hoped to serve.

      The facts… Our low gluten bread is made with wheat starch and water. The gluten content is less than 0.01%. It is made, stored, and shipped in a designated area free from all other wheat products. The answer… Throughout the years of our research and development we stayed in touch with the Office of the Secretariat for the Liturgy of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops. Through their help we discovered a company that produced wheat starch, which is wheat that has had most of the gluten removed. We began experimenting with this new product. There were many failed attempts and much frustration — the resulting breads were either too thin, too hard, or inedible. Then one evening, as our sisters were working, Divine Providence intervened. When mixing the ingredients, the result was a sticky, messy batter that seemed hopeless. They plopped some of it onto the baking plate and then decided to throw out the rest and start over. When they opened the baker they discovered a round, crisp, light wafer that tasted delicious. God had blessed our efforts with success.”

      There you have it. Divine Inspiration stepped in and it tastes delicious.

      The wheat of 2000+ years ago is NOT the same wheat of today and was probably a much healthier grain,but the point is, wheat MUST be in there somewhere for it to be “traditional” That’s their stance.

      When I sat there the last time I went to Mass, not receiving communion or taking the wine, I felt like a sinner, an outcast.

      As a Catholic, you are not supposed to receive communion if you are in need of “forgiveness” (i.e. you have sinned and have not gone to confession to cleanse your soul) so, I thought about maybe wearing a big sign that said “I am a celiac and I cannot eat the wafer or drink from the communal cup or it will kill me—and I am divorced too— but I am a good person, honest!!!”

      Silly, isn’t it? Between this and all the other man- made laws and abuse scandal nonsense, I just chose to stop going.
      Too bad. I contributed money to their church and I volunteered my time years past teaching Sunday school and visiting the home bound, until I had to turn in my pyx when I got divorced.
      So be it.

      Jesus himself took in sinners and harlots and did not discriminate..

      His message got lost somewhere.

      1. This is total BULL. All priests were allowed to be married UNTIL the church realized that the first born sons of these priests were taking all the wealth away when their priestly fathers went home to heaven. So they decided that Jesus was never married and priests should “follow” that rule.

        We have to remember that even the bible has been written and transcribed by HUMAN beings. Not every one of them has the best interests of others in mind.

  27. Here’s a quote from the St. Robert Bellarmine Society, makers of altar breads:

    “One must remember that one is receiving the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine, not actually bread itself. There are documented cases of celiac suffers who, while maintaining a strict gluten free diet, never-the-less receive the Eucharist under normal conditions with absolutely no ill effects what-so-ever. This is not surprising given the nature, essence and substance of the Eucharist Itself that it is the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.”

    By this warped logic, a full gluten wafer would also be safe for a Celiac. Hogwash. I can’t find the reference now, but I remember previously reading something on this company’s website about making allowances for priests and others with alcoholism, such that they didn’t have to have the wine. If they can be accommodated, why not Celiacs??????

  28. But the Church does not see it as warped logic at all.

    Like I said, through transubstantiation —when the priest consecrates that wafer— Catholics believe, without doubt, it is not a wheat wafer anymore, it IS the Body of Christ.

    This is what we were taught.

    In other religions, the communion ritual is more symbolic–done as Jesus said— “in memory of me”.

    But in the RCC, it IS the Body of Christ. That’s the whole point.

    It is the very foundation of this faith.

    Why this transubstantiation cannot occur through consecration of a rice , teff or millet wafer—is another issue.

    They believe it has to be made from wheat —-and because they developed one that falls into the category of “low gluten” that is believed to be safe, they ARE trying to accommodate celiacs.

    They conformed with the same standards in place for detecting levels of gluten in packaged GF foods.

    It is up to the individual to determine if she/he wants to risk that miniscule amount of gluten to receive communion.

  29. I hope the Catholic church comes around on this issue to make it safe for all people that are Celiac, gluten intolerant, or even allergic to wheat to be able to partake of communion safely.
    My non-denominational Christian church is much more laid back about communion – the focus is on our heart amd our relationship with God, not on the exact food. The partaking of communion is an act of remembrance & reflection of Jesus shedding his blood & being crucified. We use grape juice & those little round soup crackers. For me, the celiac, I bring a little ziploc baggie with a Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thin (cracker) in it and just break that in half and eat that for communion. If I wanted, the church would surely help me provide gf wafers for anyone that wanted. In fact, as several other people in our small church are now gluten free I’ve been thinking about making my own gf crackers (Jules posted a recipe recently) and having them offer those separately. Anyways, I sure appreciate that there aren’t any limits imposed, I’m able to worship & reflect just like everyone else during this time. My church secretary was great and put all of the once a month communion dates on the church’s google calendar for the rest of the year, so that I could mark them on my own calendar and set a reminder to myself to bring a cracker those days. 🙂

    1. This is what my friend’s church does. A rice cracker, a nut thin, or a homemade cracker. A frito if necessary. It does not matter.

      I cannot tell how happy I am for you !! Your church is open to the concept as I believe Jesus intended it—a sharing of a meal together, in “communion” i.e. the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, esp. on a spiritual level. (the real meaning of the word)

      A time with friends and loved ones. A community —that gathers in one spirit to worship.

      That’s what it was supposed to be!

  30. The Benedictine Sisters in MO produce a “low gluten” host, however the gluten level is so minute it would be considered “gluten free” according to the proposed FDA standard of 20 ppm of gluten (or 20 mg/kg). The host produced by the Benedictines is regularly tested witht the ELISA test and the gluten content is below detection limits. They are made in a dedicated facility. Our parish orders them for me, I place them in my own freezer, and bring one to church with me in a pyx. No one ever opens the pyx or touches the host but me. The Sisters do include a letter with the hosts recommending you clear their consumption with your doctor. MOST celiacs can tolerate 10 mg/day of gluten. Even if these hosts had 100 ppm of gluten it would take 270 of these hosts to equal the 10 mg/day. If you aren’t in the “most” category who can tolerate the 10 mg or are concerned, then have follow up blood tests in 3 months or have a follow up biopsy (which is recommended by most doctors anyway to make sure you are not inadvertently consuming gluten elsewhere).
    I guess I am confused as to why celiacs posting here will eat anything off the grocery store shelves that is gluten free according to ELISA testing, if the level is below detection limits, its below. A person would probably eat more gluten after touching a shopping cart then hopping in the car and opening that bag of gluten free chips on the way home. Even some naturally gluten free foods contain some minute levels of gluten. Would you really consume 270 hosts in one sitting???

    In Jesus’ time the bread was made of barley. The Catholic Church Canon Law specifies wheat because it states in the Bible that “wheat is the finest among the various grains” (Psalms & Revelation). I would recommend ONLY ordering from the Benedictine Sisters. They worked tirelessly to come up with a host that is tolerated by MOST celiacs. The host does not taste bad as stated, in fact it has no taste at all and the texture is like a crunchy rice cracker.

    As for the mother whose Bishop refused to allow the low gluten host for her daughter, I would take the matter to the ArchBishop or join another diocese. The majority of people out there are so misinformed about celiac and some members of the church are included in that group. I’m also guessing some of the people commenting on this blog quit going to church long before they were diagnosed with celiac, and this is just another excuse not to get out of bed on Sunday mornings and get to church. Even if I had decided not to take the host, I’d still get myself and my non-celiac kids to church on Sunday.

  31. I am horrified by every bit of this article. I was raised Catholic, and diagnosed as an adult. My first response to gluten is anaphylactic shock, yes, my first response is respiratory and life threatening. When first diagnosed I approached a priest (who interestingly enough has since left the church). He said, “Seems to me God gave you a brain in order to make good decisions. Accepting communion doesn’t sound like one to me.”

    One of the most difficult parts of being Celiac is losing a huge part of community that is accessed via food. Shame on them for giving this little girl one more place she must feel different. Don’t get me started on her mother’s willingness to allow her to have any gluten. My hope is that the Celiac community is Columbus is reaching out and educating this family.

  32. Like Marcia, I have immediate and dangerous and long- lasting complications from ANY gluten. We may be in the minority, but even if the CURRENT understanding prevails that less than 20 ppm is “okay” for MOST celiacs —-what does anyone know about the long term, cumulative effects? Nothing.

    To Jane, I have to say the following:

    Some very ill people –such as myself—cannot tolerate “follow up biopsies every 3 months” nor would any doctor recommend this invasive procedure as a way to monitor low levels of gluten ingestion.

    Some people blood test negative (like me ) for various reasons, so that test is a useless barometer.

    Some of us did leave the church long before we knew we had celiac, for reasons that are varied and valid and personal.

    You are correct, many people can tolerate the low gluten level (without IMMEDIATE obvious consequences, but who knows what long term consequences there will be?)

    So maybe some lapsed Catholics (who are celiacs ) ARE using the gluten wafer as an “excuse” not to attend Mass..

    But I did not see that reason mentioned HERE in this discussion at all. Not once. I reread every one of them.

    People cited other reasons, but not that one.

    Your comment seems judgmental and designed to try and make people feel ashamed for not “getting out of bed on Sunday morning” and going to Mass.

    With all due respect, I believe only God can judge us humans.

  33. I think you totally missed the point I was trying to make…if the “low gluten” host is BELOW gluten detection limits on the ELISA test, then how is the gluten “level” any different than any other ELISA tested product you buy at the grocery store or health food store? If the so called safe limit now for products labeled GF is 20 ppm, then do you not buy any foods labeled gluten free? How do you know you are not ingesting minute amounts of gluten, even in naturally gluten free foods? You haven’t read European studies that (especially in Finland) that MOST celiac intestines heal even at 20 ppm? So because some people with celiac get sick eating gluten free oats, then the rest of celiacs shouldn’t eat gluten free oats?
    The point I was trying to make was IF you ARE in the majority of celiacs that can tolerate the less than 20ppm of gluten, then I think this host (which is well below the 20 ppm if not–detected) is viable option for those who wish to receive Communion in the Catholic Church. And yes someone did mention on this blog about pedophiles in the Catholic Church. I’m not going to leave the Catholic Church because of some bad apples or the decision of one bishop a few hundres miles away. A local Episcopalian was just arrested for being a pedophile and that didn’t even make the news!
    And I did not mean a biopsy every 3 mos. A celiac expert recommends a blood test in 3 mos. to help determine if you are in compliance and shouldn’t every celiac have a follow up biopsy 2-3 years after starting the diet to make sure you are healing? Not ALL of us can rely on “how we feel” to determine whether or not we are accidently ingesting gluten. I have ZERO symptoms of celiac disease and NO family history yet I still have celiac. I do not get physically sick from eating any amount of gluten. Unlike most of you, I cannot gauge whether or not I should or shouldn’t be eating that food, or going to that restaurant ever again because I might have been fed gluten. I HAVE to rely on blood tests and a follow up biopsy because I have no other choice. And its getting harder and harder to believe anything you read on the internet, on blogs, etc. I’ve learned I have to read scientific studies, call companies myself, or rely on my Mayo Dr. for advice. Believe me I did my homework when deciding to take this host. So if I am judgemental so be it. How is everyone on this blog judging the mother if this 11 year old any different? That is not being judgemental? How do you know this 11 year old isn’t in the majority? Maybe she’s Finnish!

    1. Jane, why do you assume that everyone on here goes to church, anyway? My Dad is Orthodox Jewish and my mom is from a Southern Baptist family and I never went to church, not once. So am I any less of a person because I choose NOT to be religious?

      I also agree with IrishHeart: there are many, many instances of pedophilia within the Catholic church. It’s not just a few isolated incidents, it’s rampant. And I’m willing to bet that most of the victims still haven’t come forward with their stories because they are too scared or ashamed.

      One thing I do have in common with you, Jane, is that I also don’t get sick when I get glutened. I pretty much have to rely on blood tests and very long-term symptoms (like fatigue or weight loss). It took me 1 1/2 years to heal, though, because I was probably continuing to ingest gluten and not even know it.

  34. I did not miss a thing you said. I can read.

    I know the ppms in the hosts are considered “safe”–I even said:

    The Church did all it could to provide safe hosts. (you did not read very carefully because I gave them the credit for doing that)

    And I do all the same things you do: read labels, call companies.
    One lied to me last week about their safety practices and I am sick as a result. (Do not eat Earth Family dips!!!)

    And I did not judge this girl’s mother. I did not say a thing about her.

    What I took offense to was YOUR judgmental attitude about people not going to church.

    AND, actually, you are quite wrong. I have read the few Finnish studies about Codex Wheat starch. I do not really care what works for 58 -60 people in a controlled study. Let’s see what happens to them 20 years from now.

    Saying MOST people can tolerate these amounts only works if you are one of the ones in the “most category”.

    Ask the others who are still suffering.

    Because you do not have any symptoms, you cannot possibly understand the HELL I endured for YEARS or what I have to do to stay safe and not get sick. What this did to my husband, my family.

    Read my story before you start lecturing me or assuming anything about me. It’s right here on this blog site.

    I have read celiac research for 3 years. I spend a lot of time reading PubMed articles so I know what I am talking about when I counsel newly diagnosed people. I tell them MOST people can tolerate the GF products in the world. I tell them to do what works best for them.

    That is what I would say about the host, too. Do it if you feel comfortable.

    And really I was going to let it go, but I just cannot…..your comment about a “few bad apples”? One bishop??

    Are you kidding me?? Where have you been? There are thousands –and that’s only because people are afraid and ashamed to say anything. In Ireland alone, they are having a hard time getting a handle on it because the investigations are obstructed by the Vatican and the locals. If one of these abused children was yours, you would not have such a cavalier attitude about it.

    G-Dude, my apologies to you if this topic has gone astray.

    It was not my intention but if we are going to have an intelligent discourse on this subject, there has to be some truth to what is being said. I deal in facts, science, reality and experience when it comes to celiac.

    The other unpleasant truths? well, that’s just what it is and I am sorry if some people cannot see it and deny the reality of what has happened in these scandals. (telling me one Episcopalian was accused does not negate the facts–it is called “deflecting” away from the subject and it does not work. )

    G-dude, maybe tomorrow’s topic can be ” light and airy”? LOL

  35. I think this whole entire blog has gotten out of hand. I’m not the one who brought up pedophilia in the Catholic Church, someone else on this blog did, I know its a serious issue but I’m not going to change religions because of it. It happens in other churches, religions, and professions too, it doesn’t get publicized nearly as much. Why even bring it up if we are supposed to be discussing the gluten free host. And if you are not a practicing Catholic, why even care what the Catholic Church decides for their members? I could care less what other religions decide for their members.
    This blog was supposed to be about the gluten free host and there was very little information on the host on this blog, especially the ones made by the Benedictine Sisters. No one even knew why the Catholic Church uses wheat in the hosts. I don’t agree with the decision made by the Bishop of this 11 year old girl…as suggested before I think Mom should go up the chain. But several people on this blog including gluten dude thinks Mom is crazy for feeding her daughter a low gluten host. If the host is this particular one and is basically gluten free, isn’t that her and her daughter’s decision? Again, (not directed at you IrishHeart but some of the other commenters), but how do we know Mom hasn’t done her homework? Aren’t Mom and daughter practicing Catholics? I was not trying to make anyone ashamed for not getting up and going to Mass (Rachel I did not say anyone was less of a person for not choosing to be religious, where did I say that?), but if you are a practicing Catholic, that is what you do. I could care less if the rest of you go to church or not or what religion you are or not and I am sorry if you all took offense to what I said, but it was directed at the Catholics who call themselves Catholic and don’t practice their faith, either in or out of church but yet have a strong opinion of the church. Does a strong opinion = judgement, I don’t know.
    I think gluten dude was right when he first said never talk about religion or politics, it just opened a can of worms and got so off course the original topic got lost. And Rachel, I have NO symptoms, no short term or long term. I felt no different after going gluten free, because I felt fine before. All of my vitamin levels were above normal, including iron, and my bone density test is above normal for someone my age yet I have positive blood tests and intestinal damage. I could easily get glutened and not know it. And I’m truly sorry IrishHeart you had to suffer so long with this disease. It just goes to show how little doctors in this country know about celiac. My celiac dr. is originally from Europe! I actually had another dr. (U.S. dr.) say to me after I told her I had celiac “What do you hope to obtain by being on this diet?”
    And don’t trust anyone you call at GNC…they told me last week their gluten is “bleached” and “deodorized” in some of their meal replacement shakes so they are safe.
    I agree, lets get on some other topic tomorrow. Dealing with this disease (esp. in this country) is difficult enough and serious for all of us celiacs, its still a life long disease we all have to manage whether we have symptoms or not.

  36. Miss Dee Meanor

    I heard a presentation yesterday by Dr. Allessio Fasano at the Charlotte Gluten/Allergy Free Expo and was very impressed with the current research being done for not only Celiac Disease, but also non-Celiac gluten-sensitivity. At the end of his powerpoint presentation there was a reference to a publication that has summarized the research so that physicians can better understand symptoms that may indicate the need for a gluten-free diet even when al tests for Celiac and wheat allergy are negative. I wrote down the site URL so I could see it for myself when I got home. Hopefully your family physician has read it and will also be aware of the far-reaching problems that gluten can cause.

    He stated that since being published on this site this past February it has had about 60 million hits including 30,000 last week alone. The article is directed to physicians, but some of you may find it interesting so I will post the link. If you look at the names and bios of the researchers participating in this study you will see they are well-respected. They met in London to come up with this summary. Their resources are cited at the end of the article. It has been peer-reviewed and published.

    Enough about religion. This is a topic we ALL agree on: Hooray for more awareness in the medical community. Hopefully the word is out that gluten is is the cause of many symptoms that were for years thought to be “all in someone’s mind”, IBS, fibromyalgia, age-related problems, or digestive disorders (we could keep going with this list…). Maybe the next generation will not have to wait an average of 10 years before being diagnosed. I cringe to think of all the medications people are currently taking when the solution is really to exclude gluten in their diet.

  37. The Gluten Dude

    Breathe in…hold for 7 seconds…now slowly breathe out.

    Don’t you feel better now?

    I think tomorrow we’ll discuss who has the worst celiac symptoms: Democrats or Republicans.

  38. Amy -The Quirky Gluten Free Runner

    I’m a Catholic and I KNOW I cannot receive communion any longer.

    I now do the walk that everyone does who is or is not Catholic who cannot receive communion —I cross my arms across my chest in an X pattern so the priest knows I cannot receive communion. People sitting in pews can wonder and gossip all they want. i know the reason, it doesn’t matter.

    My boss keeps telling me I need to become a Lutheran, his church provides GF communion wafers.

  39. My Catholic church offered me low gluten wafers, and I declined. It kept me away from church for months because I was so upset about not being able to receive communion anymore. I don’t go up, I stay in my pew and pray…then sing. The first time I went back, I cried in my hands quietly the whole time. My husband was the only one who knew, and knew why. It breaks my heart every week when we pray the line about ” not worthy to take you into the roof of my mouth”.. (new language), because I totally feel that way.

    1. Umm… Correction: The new prayer is: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under MY ROOF, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

      Secondly, you could make a spiritual communion. When I can’t receive from the cup (because I’m ill, because it’s Good Friday, because the cup got contaminated…), I approach for a blessing, and I unite myself to Christ on the Cross. For me, to receive Holy Communion is a tremendous grace, and I cherish every opportunity that I can receive it. So when I cannot receive it, it was – for a time – physically painful to me because my soul would cry out in famine to the Lord. I have since taken the “lost opportunity” of receiving communion and transformed it to an opportunity of sacrifice. It has now become an opportunity to unite myself to Christ on the Cross, in sacrifice for the sin of the world. Hopefully you can find a similar consolation in your circumstances.

  40. Most people complain that the Church should bend the rules because of the individual with celiac or intolerance to gluten. I am celiac and I am Catholic. I am also related to a Priest. What people fail to understand is the Bible requires unleavened wheat and water as the ingredients for the host. That does not change based upon someone’s medical condition and to blast the Church for upholding its beliefs, when after all beliefs are why we attend Mass in the first place, is simply selfish and lacking in depth of understanding of their own faith.

    We have an option. The low gluten hosts are the only approved hosts for us to use. The fact that they taste bad is a poor excuse for blasting an entire faith and its believers because they did not change the Church laws to meet an individuals taste buds. They provided the acceptable host and made accommodations for them to continue to attend communion, but people still complain? Nowhere is there a requirement for Communion to be yummy. You are receiving the body and/or blood of Christ and it’s an honor, privilege and blessing to be able to do so, particularly for those with gluten considerations.

    It is appalling that so many have blasted the Church and its rules and Priests over someone simply not liking the taste of Christ. Our Communion is not symbolic, it is not to mimic the old days of Christ….it IS Christ because that host is turned from bread to the Body of Christ during consecration. Other religions use grape juice or other matter to “represent” communion, but Catholics do not. Our Communion truly is the Body and to throw insults at those charged with continuing thousands of years of faith is disgusting. If you are a non-believer in the Catholic faith, little can be said to show you how and why we believe what we do. But for proclaimed Catholics to come here and blast their views against this is disgraceful.

    I pray the young girl works out her faith and receives proper guidance from her Priest and from her parents, friends and others. This is a tough issue for us and we have only one option besides skipping Communion altogether. We can accept it and appreciate that we can still receive the Body each week or stop taking it and miss out on the blessing of receiving Him into our bodies each week.

    I pray also for all of you who either do not understand or who fail to accept their faith in its entirety. This is not an issue against a little girl or against celiacs….this article was presented as an accusation against an unbending Church, when in reality the Church made accommodation within its guidelines and individuals decided because the host tasted badly to one person that the Church should completely re-write its rules and change to a host that does not represent God as it is intended within the Bible and Church law.

    1. Hi Bill. Celiacs should not be having “low-gluten” anything. It must be gluten-free or it is harmful.

      And please don’t pray for me for not accepting my faith in its entirety. How many wars have been fought over people trying to shove their religious beliefs down other’s throats?

      My god doesn’t want war. My god doesn’t want hatred. And my god certainly doesn’t want an 11 year old girl to go without communion because it doesn’t meet some standard originated thousands of years ago.


  41. Interesting. So because it originated when God’s son was here on earth, today it should change because a little girl didn’t like the taste.

    Research that low gluten item and tell me how dangerous it is. Please share because I’m celiac and I also need to know. Medical doctors cannot detect the gluten and I have found no evidence of any harm coming from those hosts. It may exist, but I have not found it.

    I’m not shoving religion down your throat. I’m telling you what Catholics believe communion to be. Anything else just isn’t. So she’d be going through the motions and nothing more, and no priest would bless a gluten free host anyway. So if you change a rule you still don’t change Communion. If it’s not from wheat it’s not communion. I wish it were different, believe me, and I plan to test those hosts myself so I can also participate in Communion again. I’ve refrained from Communion since diagnosis, but this may be my answer. I’ll know soon.

    Complaining about the rules doesn’t eliminate the problem. It must follow Biblical requirements or it is not Communion. I know that’s tough to handle for some, but we all can’t have it our way just because we want it so. It’s not “unfair”…it’s how God meant it to be. Who are we to change that to meet a situation?

    1. There are priests who are consecrating gluten free hosts all over the country. You just have to be lucky enough to have a pastor that doesn’t have a problem with the accomodation. 1 in 3 Catholics in this country do not attend church or participate in the organized religion of Catholicism. I’m not suggesting that gluten free hosts explains this statistic, but rather it’s the close minded philosophy of the Vatican on several issues.

      To tell my 13 and 7 year old daughters that they cannot receive communion makes them feel as if they are being denied their faith. This disease mandates that we are “different” so often and the one place that we should never feel alienated, is in our church. The low gluten host is not an option for my girls. The nutritionist at the Columbia University Celiac Center told me via email….”I guess it would be okay once a week.” That doesn’t sound like a rining endorsement, and as a Celiac and a Mom, I can’t knowlingly put any amount of gluten into their bodies!!!

  42. This is a big FAIL for the Catholic Church. Instead of adapting, to assist a practicing Catholic, they take a PUNITIVE path. And to stubbornly adhere to a so-called rule, in the case of a child, is unconscionable. (I’d like to know where this ‘Wheat equals the Body of Christ’ dictate comes from). The girl and her mother WANT to be good Catholics, so the mom will even risk the health of her child to do so. This shouldn’t even be a choice that either has to make.
    As Rodney Dangerfield used to say, “I get no respect!” This could definitely be used by all people with Celiac Disease!
    Slowly but surely, the Catholic Church will continue to push people away. I’m a recovering Catholic as it is, but this nonsense about the Gluten Free Communion Wafer upsets me anew. Best wishes to the mom and daughter who are being discriminated against by the Church.

  43. This issue makes me SO mad (and so glad I’m not Catholic!).

    Other religions (Jews and Muslims come to mind) have rules about stuff you have to eat and stuff you have to avoid – but there’s are 2 major exceptions to these rules:

    You can eat “forbidden” food in order to stay alive
    You are not allowed to eat anything that makes you ill

    So a coeliac Jew can eat bacon if the alternative, and mustn’t eat matzos made of normal wheat.

    Since when did Catholic dogma take precedence over common sense? And if Mum didn’t argue with the church would she be guilty of child cruelty?

    BTW – I believe the low-gluten hosts have 20-100ppm gluten – higher than would be allowed under current gluten-free legislation in the UK, but provided you don’t take mass every day, you should be ok with them (up until a year ago GF in the UK was up to 200ppm – you would be amazed at the things that we all thought were safe that have been delisted during the last 18 months)

  44. What most people are missing is that Catholics believe that wheat bread is required to make the Eucharist possible. Other forms of bread CANNOT become the body of Christ. It’s similar too the way water must be used for a valid baptism. If another liquid were used, such as milk, baptism would not occur. If a priest said the words of consecration over Doritos, or rice crackers, or nut thins, they will not be changed into the body of Christ. If a priest pretended that they were changed into the body of Christ, this would be a lie.
    The entirely gluten free option for celiac sufferers is to have the Precious Blood, in a separate chalice, without any mingling with the host. Catholic celiacs may receive Holy Communion under the species of wine only. The doctrine of concomitance teaches that under either species of bread or wine, the whole of Christ is received. I’m sure that anyone who wished to receive communion in this way could be accommodated by the priest in their parish.

  45. I just spoke to our pastor yesterday and he amazed me. He said there is canon law and pastoral law and since he is not an attorney, he focuses on the pastoral side. He said that he would never deny someone a gluten free host. He told me to find the host, or even make a host, that is safe for my girls and I and then he is happy to meet with us to find out about cross contamination measures. I was blown away and so please because every staff member at the church told me that I was not allowed to use any other host. I’m very thankful that there are pastors out there who “get it” and take a more comment sense approach. My daughters First Communion is back on!

      1. Rachel, we had a few Priests in my area that use to offer a GF host to my Celiac daughter but they now refuse. The church is coming down on priests for this. My daughter was diagnosed at age 3 and they call her the canary for Celiac disease because she is so sensitive. Even the tiniest crumb will affect her within 1 hour and send her into a violent vomiting spree. She throws up 12-15 times in the next hour and it is horrible to watch. Even when they combine wheat in our area, she drops weight and is ill. When it came time for her First Communion, our new Priest refused the GF host that our old one had promised. I was told to offer her the cup for her Communion which I am very uncomfortable with due to the cross contamination. I spoke with our priest as well as a few others in our area and was told that I was coming between my daughter and Jesus by not allowing her the low GF host or to drink from the cup. I was even told that the priests would pray for me. It was a horrible time and left me with much sadness toward the church. I spoke with the priest who married my husband and I and he immediately said “bring her to me and I’ll give that child a GF host”. We traveled 7 hours for her first communion and made it a very special time for her. There are no longer Catholic churches that will offer her the GF host and it has left me feeling ashamed of a church that I have raised my children believing in. We are currently attending a Bible Church that preaches from the bible and studies the bible and once a month even offers the entire congregation a GF wedge of bread due to 1 family in the church with Celiac Disease. I have a hard time believing that Jesus would even turn a child away because of an illness. I feel like the faith I turned to at age 25, turned it’s back on my daughter because she was different than the majority of the congregation. Thank God that Jesus did not have the same heart or Christianity would never have been born!

        1. Andrea- I feel your pain. I was so excited to hear from our pastor that he was okay with utilizing a gluten free host. Unfortunately, my daughter will not be making her First Communion. The logistics of avoiding cross contamination has now made this sacrament impossible for my daughter. The week that our new pope was chosen is also the same week that we made the painful decision to stop fighting with a parish that just doesn’t want to help us. My husband and I were raised in strong Catholic families and we each have 16+ years of Catholic education and yet, we’re walking away from Catholicism. We have to choose our battles in life, and this is just one battle that suddenly became clear to me. I have Celiac Disease, and two of my three children have Celiac Disease and I don’t want to continue to fight to be welcomed. It feels wrong. I agree with you wholeheartedly…..Jesus would not have a problem with gluten free hosts. I’m so happy that you have found a place where you feel welcome and safe. My husband and I are now embarking on “church shopping”. We hope to find a place where we are welcome. My best to you and your family.

  46. There are a lot of reasons I left the Catholic church when I was 29. This is just one more reason that I know I made the right decision. There are so many things they teach that are just nut biblical. When I was a kid there was no way I would have had a bite of meat on a Friday because the nuns taught us we would go to hell if we did. Now it’s not a church law anymore. So do all the dead Friday meat-eaters now get a Get Out of Hell Free card?

  47. So the kid receives a rice-flour host at the rail. Fine, she feels included, but she’s not receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion. Only bread made with wheat flour is appropriate matter for the Eucharist; case closed.

    The point of receiving is not to feel included in some cozy little neighborhood tea-party. It is to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, according to his commandment and institution. Low-gluten hosts are one option; the other is forgoing the host completely and receiving from the chalice only. Since the Church teaches the doctrine of concomitance (meaning that the sacrament is complete in receiving either of the two species), there is no reason this should be problematic for any rightly-disposed communicant.

    1. Nunya- my children cannot tolerate the low gluten host and cannot accept the wine due to nitrate issues as well as cross contamination issues. Church means community, so in a way communion is somewhat of a tea party that my girls would like to be part of. Why does that bother you? The catechism is thicker than the bible itself and neither God nor Jesus wrote it. The Lird that I know, would want my daughters and I to participate in the Eucharist. I don’t understand how people can be offended by the host that my daughters and I ingest.

      1. Rachael, the priest can wave his hands over that rice cracker from now until Doomsday and it won’t be any more the Body of Christ than when he started. The use of grain other than wheat in the host invalidates the sacrament. I don’t understand why you would want your children to receive something at Communion which is not the Body and Blood of Christ.

        If you disagree so strongly with what the church teaches, why be Catholic? You may as well be Episcopalian!

        1. Nunya, I’ve got news for you. The priest can wave his hands over any little piece of bread and say the magic words and it won’t turn into the body of Christ. Most Catholics no longer believe in transubstantiation, but view it as a symbol. The Church is stuck in the past and it’s subservience to laws and magic formulas serves no one, certainly not God. That’s why Catholics are leaving in droves. Perhaps if the Catholic Church truly embraced the idea of a loving god, it would recognize that if God gives you a disease, the Church shouldn’t limit your ability to worship because of an affliction. It’s nonsense. It’s akin to women not being able to enter the priesthood because what? Because they have vulvas? The men in power are keeping it that way because it works for them. It’s organized religion becoming organized oppression and continuance of the status quo.

        2. Nice compassionate attitude Nunya! Wow—cradle Catholics seem to be THE most unkind and uncharitable ‘Christians’ I have ever come across.

  48. Fundamentalists are fundamentalists. They sometimes lose the spirit of the law in following the letter of the law. My boxes of GF matzah have printed on them, quite clearly, “not to be used in place of regular matzah at the Seder.” So, a celiac can’t partake fully in the ceremony so that the letter of the law can be followed. I have a news flash for them. At my Seder, I will be having GF matzah. I think God will understand. It’s the inflexible old men in the “religion of no” who can’t get their heads around it.

  49. I was Catholic for 21 years. I now attend a Lutheran church. We have gluten free wafers. They taste like corn to me.

  50. This is a HUGE bone of contention with our family, who all 4 became Catholic in 2003, and now in 2013 none of us attend mass. It just got too weird and uncomfortable. Do we sit in the pew like we’re not Catholic? walk the aisle and get a blessing and skip the wine too? Our old priest made it all very comfortable after our diagnosis in 2005 and went out of his way to make the 3 Celiac families feel welcome and part of the mass. Our new priest is very young and VERY legalistic—so now it all just is very uncomfortable. He says we are getting Spiritual Communion—but we just quit going because it just got too weird feeling.

    I find the Church being so legalistic on this topic to be so confusing—-where is the charity and compassion??? Would Jesus REALLY be so legalistic about a poison being in the bread as to shut out a large portion of the church population from partaking in communion and even becoming priests or nuns??? I think any true, compassionate Christian knows the answer to that….

  51. The Catholic Church believes in transubstantiation. “In theology, transubstantiation is the doctrine that, in the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and the wine used in the sacrament is literally, not merely as by a sign or a figure, but in actual reality as well, changed into the substance of the Body and the Blood of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses (the physical appearances – species in Latin) remains unchanged. What remains unaltered is also referred to as the “accidents” of the bread and wine.” -Wikipedia
    The host is actually the body and blood of Jesus Christ after consecration, the same goes for the wine. This is one of the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church. You are not eating “wheat” anymore so there isn’t an issue.
    If you claim to be a catholic and don’t agree with that statement, then pick up the Catechism of the Catholic Church and see what it has to say.
    There are plenty of Protestant churches out there that believe the Eucharist is just a symbol. I agree that those churches should provide a gluten free wafer to those who need it. However, the Catholic Church is an entirely different story.
    I’m not saying this to sound harsh, or mean. You have the free will to believe what you want. I just wanted to let you know what the Catholic Church teaches and believes. The sad thing to me is that a lot of catholics don’t believe in transubstantiation anymore, which is why this is an issue.

    1. “The host is actually the body and blood of Jesus Christ after consecration, the same goes for the wine. This is one of the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church. You are not eating “wheat” anymore so there isn’t an issue.”

      Holy moly…no pun intended. I knew there was a reason I stopped going to church.

    2. Sorry—it’s not my ‘lack of understanding or belief’ that’s the problem! We were blindsided by Celiac 2 years into our Catholic walk, and it certainly wasn’t a lack of faith during the consecration at mass that made us even react to the precious blood. You obviously don’t have overt, or frightening reactions like my kids did, or you wouldn’t take such a cavalier attitude about your own host eating or look down your nose at those of us who react to even minute amounts of wheat, judging that we simply don’t have faith. Besides, the priest is supposed to have performed the miracle of transubstantiation during mass, which has NOTHING to do with our own faith!

      I do believe Jesus continually challenged the Pharisees and their legalism….

  52. I am a lifelong Catholic and have 16 years of Catholic education. I know the history and the teachings. Gluten does not magically disappear during consecration. The Church recognizes this fact and that is why some churches now accept the use of the low gluten hosts. My daughters and I cannot ingest the low gluten host because we need a truly gluten free host. With 1 in 100 to 1 in 133 individuals estimated to have Celiac Disease in this country, the Catholic Church along with many other institutions and entities, will have to address the issue on a broader scale or risk losing more parishioners. To suggest that the gluten contained in the host won’t harm us after transubstantiation, is frightening to me.

  53. Consubstantiation is the belief that part of the Eucharist contains Jesus and the bread, that is taught by the Episcopal church. This is not what the Catholic Church teaches. I know it’s not easy to understand, that’s why many disciples of Jesus left in John 6:66. It’s kind of a take it or leave it deal. Jesus didn’t state that the bread was his body and blood, and watch people walk away for nothing. He knew it takes a lot of faith to believe it, especially considering the historical context of a first century Jew,and it’s just as hard to comprehend now. It’s not some thing “magical” that happens during Mass, it’s miraculous. If God can make manna rain from the heavens in the Old Testament, then he can certainly transform the Eucharist during Mass. I too am celiac, but that doesn’t stop me from receiving communion. However,
    If you can provide some reference or information that my understanding of the the Eucharist is incorrect with what the Catholic Church teaches, I’d be happy to hear you out. I do not want to appear to use this as an apologetic platform, only want to state the facts of what the Catholic Church actually teaches.

  54. I don’t think anyone is questioning the Catholic Church’s take on this. I personally have the catechism sitting on my bookshelf and it does a great job of pressing flowers and leaves for me. If you can take a consecrated host, have it tested, and prove to me that it no longer contains gluten, then we would be good to go. Science and religion really don’t mix well but I’m a Catholic with a medical condition that dictates a gluten free diet so I can’t ignore reality. I think it’s the politics of the rules rather than the religion that is getting in the way. Christ didn’t write Canon Law. That was just a bunch of old white guys and therefore, I find that to be totally different and open to challenges.

  55. In Aristotelian/Thomistic philosophy, which produced the concept of transubstantiation, “accidents” refers to the physical and discernible properties of a thing. The Catholic Church teaches that the “accidents” remain those of bread and wine. Therefore, gluten is still physically present and will still have a physical effect on communicants. This article attempts to explain the difference between substance and accident:

    Anyway, I’m a Catholic that got sick from receiving the “low-gluten” hosts. I also got sick from receiving from the common chalice, I guess because there were trace amounts of gluten on it from other people drinking before me. Every time I have made an arrangement with a priest to receive Communion from the chalice before the rest of the congregation, the arrangement has not worked out for one reason or another (in one case because the priest was hospitalized that day and then left the city), and it’s rare that a priest is actually willing to do this. What’s even more strange to me is that no priest seems interested in discussing the spiritual ramifications of my situation or giving me spiritual counsel, which you would think they would see the need for if they really believe what they say about the Eucharist.

    I’m a convert to Catholicism and don’t want to leave the Church, but after 18 months of this, I’m confused, hurt, and disappointed beyond anything I can say.

  56. I realise I’m commenting on this article rather late (just found it through Google), so people probably won’t see this. But I’ll reply anyway…

    I think most people are missing the point on this. The Church isn’t enforcing some arbitrary rule about what can be used for the Eucharist. It’s extremely important that wheat bread/wafers and grape wine is used. If something other than these are used (e.g. rice wafers and grape juice) then the consecration won’t be valid. In other words, transubstantiation doesn’t happen – you don’t get the Body and Blood of Christ, you just have some wafers and grape juice. It’d be like if you tried to baptise someone using milk – it’s got to be with water, or baptism doesn’t take place.

    The Church is not trying to deny this little girl Communion! They just can’t budge on the fact that you have to use wheat bread or wafers! Even if they did allow some sort of wheat-free alternative, she’d not be receiving Communion, just a wafer.

    I understand that a lot of people here (if not most people) don’t believe that the wafers and wine really become the Body and Blood of Christ. I get that most people believe it’s just a symbol. But to a Catholic (one who understands their faith, at least), it’s not a symbol! If it were, it wouldn’t matter what was used. But at the Last Supper, Christ used wheat bread and grape wine, and the Church isn’t free to change that. We have to do as Christ taught us.

    The Church will try her best to be accommodating to those who can’t eat gluten. But the best we can do is low-gluten, because as I said, there has to be at least some wheat for the host to be valid matter. Some people who’ve commented seem to misunderstand this; the Church doesn’t think that the gluten somehow “disappears” at consecration so it won’t matter. We’re well aware that the gluten will still be there, so if they can’t stomach any gluten whatsoever, then unfortunately, the only other option is for people to receive Communion only under the form of wine. Yes, it’s not ideal, but it’s the only option that means they’d receive a valid Eucharist. It’s also not as if you’ll get “half” of Communion, since Christ is fully present – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – in both the host and the wine.

    I thought I’d take the time to explain this all just to clarify the Church’s position on the matter. I noticed a lot of misinformation in the other comments, for example, people claiming that the Church should just change the rules without understanding the reason why the rules are there in the first place.

    One thing I’m very disappointed with is reading so many anti-Catholic responses in the comments. It’s one thing for people to say things like, “Oh, I can’t understand why they don’t just make an exception for the little girl” – that’s a genuine question about Catholicism. But it’s another thing altogether to read comments where the poster is just mocking the Catholic Church, what she teaches, and by extension, mocking Catholics like myself for holding such beliefs. I have no problem with explaining my faith to others who ask questions. In fact, I enjoy doing it. But it’s very difficult when in the 21st century, I as a Catholic suffer ridicule for my religious beliefs.

    But anyway, I hope I could clear things up. If there are any other questions, I’d be happy to answer them as best I can.

    1. “The Church will try her best to be accommodating to those who can’t eat gluten.”

      It depends on whom you mean by the Church. The Vatican? Bishops? Parish priests? Some priests try to be accommodating; most don’t. Some will treat you as if you’re being intentionally difficult if you can’t tolerate the “low-gluten” hosts. “What??? But these are the hosts that the Vatican approved specially for people like you! Why are you being so ungrateful?”

      I think what really needs to happen, instead of low-gluten hosts (although I understand some people are fine with them) is an emphasis on the fact that just as one receives the whole Christ in the host alone, one receives the whole Christ in the wine alone. (Why does the little girl say that it made her “sad” to receive only the wine? Did no one explain this to her?) And then, priests need to be willing to make this happen for celiac parishioners in a way which avoids cross-contamination, without making them feel that they are being a nuisance or an inconvenience. That will require educating priests on the issue of celiac disease. Given how important the Eucharist is to Catholics, and the increasing prevalence of celiac disease/gluten intolerance, I think this is something worth doing.

      I went recently to a high-church Anglican parish which says in large letters in its bulletin (in two places) that gluten-free hosts are available at the altar rail on request. It actually made me cry, not because they permit gluten-free hosts, but because they went to the trouble of letting people know that was an option – as if it was totally normal and to be expected that someone in the congregation might have celiac disease. They are actively trying to make people with celiac disease feel welcome and accommodated. There are some great priests out there, but overall the Catholic Church in the US has a problem when it comes to making people feel cared for. She needs to get over her smugness and take steps to address this before she drives more souls away to other churches. Catholics tend to be defensive about their Church, but we need to have the humility (and enough faith) to listen to the complaints people are making. If a lot of people are upset and hurt, maybe there is some way in which the Church is falling short that can be addressed. The Church hierarchy has also apologized for mistakes.

      On a personal note, I finally found a very kind priest who is educated about celiac disease and giving me Communion from a separate chalice, for which I am extremely grateful. So I won’t be leaving the Catholic Church just yet.

      1. Just wanted to add that as another poster noted, some people are unable to receive either bread or wine due to allergies/intolerance. Here again, I think this is ultimately a pastoral issue rather than a doctrinal issue (although I’m not entirely convinced that 100 years down the road, if the world still exists, the Church won’t suddenly say, “Oh, actually, rice hosts could be valid matter in some circumstances. We were wrong about that. Whoops!”). But this is the teaching of the Church now, and we have to make the best of it.

        If we were what we should be as a Church, people who for physical reasons were unable to receive Communion would be able to say, not simply, “I know this is the true Church even though I can’t receive Communion in it,” but “This is my family in Christ and the place where I encounter God, even though I can’t physically receive Communion in it.” See the difference? I know from experience that even with God’s grace, it is very difficult to remain, on the basis of intellectual/spiritual conviction alone, in a Church that feels hostile and exclusive.

        God bless.

  57. NOTE: Recently, the FDA has announced that any food item containing under 20 ppm gluten is considered to be gluten free and can be labelled as such – including communion hosts.

  58. As with much of religion (if not all) there is no point. When the bible stories were recorded, the cause of celiac disease was not known and the authors aren’t going to reference anything that isn’t present in their daily lives, hence the perceived importance of wheat. It is reprehensible to tell anyone, let alone children, that their health needs in a situation like this, are less important than some stupidity people are insisting upon. Hopefully once she grows up a little, she’ll realize what a bunch of BS this all is. I can only hope her mother realizes it now.

  59. My son is supposed to receive his First Communion in May, and when I asked the church about gluten free wafers I was told that “we don’t do that” and it was up to me to get them. After researching the wafers from the nuns, I can’t in good conscience give this to my son. He has a gluten sensitivity and vomits within 5 minutes if he gets gluten. Why would I take the chance that he’ll throw up in church??? His CCD teacher forced the church to buy the gf wafers and asked me to do a test run at home. How do I tell my son on a daily basis that we never eat gluten but for First Communion it’s ok to have a little?? I have Celiac and would never take these wafers because the package is labeled as “low gluten wafers”. I asked the church about the option of the wine only but that was frowned upon because he’s only 7. I’ve been a Catholic my whole life, went to Catholic school for 12 years, and I’m seriously thinking of leaving the RCC because of this. I don’t need an organized religion to believe in God or have a relationship with him, and neither do my children.

    1. I feel for you Amanda! The same exact thing happened to us last year for our daughters First Communion. I fought for 9 months to have GF wafers, and they quoted Canon Law and told me that it wasn’t possible. Sadly, my husband and I were both raised Catholic and attended 16 years of Catholic school, and now our family is no longer practicing our religion within the church. I’m sad but they lost me and we are still raising our three kids (two with Celiac and I myself have Celiac), as Catholics. It’s been a year and I still miss so many aspects of practicing Catholicism in the traditional manner but we’re fine. I do know that it all depends on the pastor so it really varies from parish to parish. Maybe there is another parish nearby that will understand. Best of luck on your journey. You’re a good Mom!!!!

    2. I find it ridiculous that they would have a problem with him receiving the wine, given that in Orthodox and Eastern Catholic parishes, *babies* receive Communion this way! An occasional sip of wine is not going to hurt a child! This is a weird American attitude, not a Catholic one.

      If you decide to test the low-gluten hosts at home, and he doesn’t have a reaction, keep in mind the possibility of cross-contamination if the priest touches regular hosts and then touches the host your son would receive.

      I hope that if you decide to leave the RCC, you won’t give up on church entirely because of this issue. There are Anglican/Episcopal and Lutheran parishes that would be happy to accommodate you and your son on the Communion issue. These churches have liturgies similar to the Catholic mass. Don’t let unreasonable people at one parish drive you away from the communal worship that is an anticipation of heaven and participation in Christ’s body. (I can already hear some Catholics gnashing their teeth about “valid Eucharists” but I’ve been through too much to care anymore.) Jesus is searching for us and wants to give Himself to us and He will find a way to do it – in one Church or another. I hope this is helpful … God bless you and your son. It’s very hard to live with this disease, especially as a Christian.

      1. Again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this isn’t something the Church can just change. If it doesn’t contain wheat, it isn’t valid matter for the sacrament.

        If, for example, someone was allergic to grape wine and instead requested cider, I think anyone could understand that the Church can’t just change it. Although a host made of wheat doesn’t look or taste much different from one made of, say, rice, it’s a fundamentally different foodstuff. If we can’t substitute apples for grapes, then we can’t substitute rice for wheat.

        I do agree that the child in this case should be able to receive Communion under the form of wine, and I’m not sure why a pastor would refuse that. Perhaps something to take up with the local bishop?

  60. I hope that the pope or someone he loves dearly gets celiac and see how quickly their tune will change. This whole thing makes me sad

  61. “Where is the compassion? Where is the understanding? Where is the flexibility in the rules so that an 11 year-old girl can partake in a religious ceremony that is very important to her?”

    To give a girl a mere rice wafer, while every one else is receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ is NOT compassionate, and shows not understanding of Catholicism and its Sacraments. If what is important to this girl is to partake in a religious CEREMONY, and she doesn’t care that she is only eating a rice wafer and not Jesus in the flesh, then she should go to a church where there is only wafers, not Christ. But not without first telling her what she’s leaving behind.

  62. Nancy DoLittle

    I was just diagnosed with gluten intolerance 8 weeks ago. I never connected the dots until today when I had Communion and got really sick about 30 minutes later. I was shocked to learn that the host had to be made of wheat and I’m 68 years old. I’ve gone to church my whole life. I don’t want to drink the wine during flu season. So, now am I not supposed to receive Communion or is it okay that I just suffer? This is crazy! I have so much compassion for people who’ve struggled with this all their lives.

    1. If you’re at all sensitive to cross-contamination, you really shouldn’t drink from the common cup anyway. People are receiving the host and then the wine right after, and some still self-intinct their hosts. So there are trace amounts of gluten in the wine.

  63. Nancy DoLittle

    I have to leave a second comment because I’m getting angrier. I don’t understand why we should give a child wine…though it’s just a sip. Isn’t that weird? And why wheat only? This is really double weird.

  64. That’s really sad and crazy actually – it should be a personal choice not an enforced one! One of the things which really limits growth in churches is fear, this is a clear cut example of fear on all sides causing wrong decisons to be made.

    I know that if Jesus was there He would have had so much to say about their ‘holiness’.

  65. I was diagnosed with celiac disease 37 years ago due to the fact that my condition was so severe. I have never been able to take the host and now face the same concern as my daughter prepares for her first communion. Upon asking the priest at the initial meeting of a gluten free option he said “yes of course we have one, it is about… 85% gluten free” to which I responded, so it’s not gluten free. So frustrating that she needs to be singled out in today’s gluten free friendly world with this antiquated faith – beginning to question my own as it adds to the list of old world ways on today’s society.

  66. I have been a Catholic all,of my 70 years and i was diagnosed with celiac disease when i was 49. I like being a Catholic a lot. Receiving the consecrated host at Mass is essential and a part of all that is holy in my life. In other words, I can’ t live without it. For all,my gluten free years, i have been receiving a truly gluten free host, no kidding! I take my own gluten free host (energie) placed in a Pix and present it to the priest before mass and he places it on the altar with the regular hosts to be consecrated. When its time to receive. I go up to that priest and he presents me with my now consecrated host in my Pix. I am happy!
    Thats how its done in my catholic church which by the way is universal
    So your catholic churches should be doing the same blessed thing. Jesus would want them to do that. So, let your pastors, priests, whoever read this email and Tell them they can be assured that our great new Pope Francis will agree with me. He and Jesus are on the same wave length.

    1. It’s great that you have a pastor willing to work with you. Unfortunately, the reality is that he would probably get in trouble with his bishop if it were known what he was doing, since his actions are NOT sanctioned by the church hierarchy. Gluten free communion is not something that can be done “universally” at this point. So, it’s kind of like birth control – if you think it’s fine and you don’t mind dissenting/breaking the rules of your church (and your priest doesn’t mind), then there’s no problem. If you feel that you have to follow the teachings of the church you belong to, then it’s more complicated. A lot of cradle Catholics seem to be just fine with breaking the rules, even though the official teaching of the Church is that they are in mortal sin and will go to hell. As a (now ex-) convert, I personally find this difficult to understand.

  67. It’s really sad that so many people are seeing this as a “Big Bad Catholic Church won’t budge on Rules” issue. The issue is simply this: Jesus’ Body and Blood are NOT PRESENT in anything but wheat bread and wine. You can say the words of consecration over rice wafers, barley wafers or oreos, but they will NOT turn into the Body and Blood of Christ. This is what the Church is declaring. Not imposing. Not dictating. Simply declaring a truth. She doesn’t want priests to use rice wafers because she wants people to receive Jesus, not a rice wafer!!! A rice wafer can’t change hearts or forgive sins or give eternal life. Only Jesus can. But if standing in line and receiving and eating a wafer along with everybody else is more important than communing with Christ, then yes, there are plenty of churches that will oblige.
    No, I’m not saying that the Catholic Church has a monopoly on Christ, or that Jesus isn’t spiritually present in other churches, but the CC offers something that no Protestant church has: the actually Body and Blood of Christ. If you’re Celiac and can’t receive, you can still commune with Christ at Mass -exactly like going to Adoration- in a way that is not possible in any Protestant church.

      1. OMG,,,,
        I CANNOT BELIEVE THOSE LAST 2 comments. Please send a telegram to the pope. I can assure you what is consecrated on those catholic altars doesn’t have to include wheat. What about the loaves and the FISHES. there is no wheat in wine. Please get a grip you guys.

        1. I’m telling you what YOUR church teaches, not what I believe.

          This page – – reproduces a letter from the CDF signed by Joseph Ratzinger in 2003. It says, “Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.” Gaby is correct about what the Catholic Church teaches on this issue.

        2. The loaves and fishes was not the event that instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. It was the last supper, and it was the bread and the wine that Jesus blessed, broke and gave, that was the first Eucharist. My grip on Catholic theology is sound- much sounder than yours.

    1. Explain why Jesus can’t turn bread made from another grain into his body. Last time I checked, he was God. So, what – he just doesn’t want to do it, because he wants people to suffer spiritually as a result of having a physical disease? He said, “I am the bread of life,” not “I am the wheat of life.”

      Let’s assume you’re right and the Catholic Church is just telling people God’s will. So why is God more fixated on an ingredient than on feeding the souls of his people? Just curious.

  68. Another reason you should understand that the Roman Catholic does NOT speak for Christians, God or Jesus but for them selves and their greedy controlling narcissist selves.

  69. This makes me so sad. My son will be recieving his first communion this month and will only take the wine (his cup will be separate so it doesn’t get cross contaminated with any wheat during the ceremony. He does not have celiac but is allergic to wheat. He becomes anaphylactic and could potentially die. I researched the low gluten host thinking it might not contain wheat but I was wrong. This summer I do plan to write to the Vatican. My heart breaks. Jesus would never leave out a child. Hod made my son this way and he should feel completely accepted in church.

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I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

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