Circular letter to Bishops on the bread and wine for the Eucharist
- Further information and guidance on how to seek permission for the use of these alternatives
- Holy Communion and People with Coeliac disease - leaflet [pdf]
- Statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2006)
- Circular Letter from Congregation for Divine Worship (2017)
- Suppliers of low-gluten hosts
A Note form the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
The Bishops of England and Wales welcome the recent letter from the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments ‘On the Bread and Wine for the Eucharist.’ The Congregation makes important points reflecting diverse situations in the production and supply of the bread and wine for the celebration of Mass.
The Bishops, ‘as guardians of the liturgical life of the Church’ must ensure that the bread and wine used for the Mass is of its proper quality. This means that for most communicants, they receive a consecrated Host of unleavened bread and the Precious Blood, once ‘the fruit of the vine.’(Eucharistic Prayer IV)
It is sufficient for the lay faithful to receive Holy Communion under either species, since each contains the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Lord.
In 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a letter: ‘Regarding legitimate variations in the use of Bread with a small quantity of gluten and the use of mustum as Eucharistic matter.’ The letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments constitutes no substantive change to the contents of the letter sent by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Church recognises that most people who suffer from Coeliac disease and other forms of wheat-gluten intolerances, are able to receive Holy Communion through the consecration of low-gluten hosts. These have been available from recognised suppliers for some time. The Liturgy Office for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has a webpage dedicated to this issue, with a leaflet for guidance, and a list of suppliers of low-Gluten bread that fulfil these requirements.
This current letter advises that the bread and wine for the Eucharist should not be bought from any supplier where the ingredients could not be verified, and particular care should be exercised with regard to purchases made on the internet.
If a priest celebrating Mass is aware that there are people present who require a low-Gluten host, then he should make provision for these hosts to be in a separate pyx for their consecration and that they do not come into contact with other hosts for Mass. In addition, it is strongly advised, that the priest should retain a separate chalice for his own communion under both kinds, into which he will place the particulam from his own host, thus ensuring that the faithful will not come into contact with any wheat-based particles in the Precious Blood.
It is also recommended that the priest take special care to ensure that the number of hosts reserved in the Tabernacle is appropriate to the number of participants and that such hosts are regularly refreshed.