No gluten-free Holy Communion for Redbridge Catholics

PUBLISHED: 15:00 16 July 2017

Communion cannot be gluten-free, the Vatican has said. (Credit: Julien Behal/PA)

Communion cannot be gluten-free, the Vatican has said. (Credit: Julien Behal/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Catholics in Redbridge cannot use gluten-free versions of communion wafers to participate in Holy Communion, the Vatican has said.

In a move that will affect wheat intolerant worshippers, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, recently reitereated the Vatican’s stance.

Although the rule has been around since 2003, the reminder was needed because the bread is now more widely available as it is sold in supermarkets and on the internet, Cardinal Sarah said.

In the letter, which the bishop said was sent by request of Pope Francis. it does say that the bread can be made from genetically modified organisms.

But in order for the host to be acceptable, it must contain wheat, a cereal that contains gluten.

He said: “Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.

He added: “Until recently it was certain religious communities who took care of baking the bread and making the wine for the celebration of the Eucharist.

“The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made.

“It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.”

For coeliac worshippers, there are currently four companies in the UK which produce ‘low gluten’ hosts that have been approved for use by the church.

Charlie Skerrett, operations supervisor at General Dietary, which produces a wide range of ‘free-from’ foods, including gluten free communion, said demand remains steady for the product.

He said: “We have offered this product for a number of years.

“A number of churches, who may only have one or two people who can’t have gluten, have actually switched over to offering everyone the gluten-free communion.

“We’ve definitely had a steady demand for this product since it was introduced but I only recently learnt that it isn’t suitable for Roman Catholics.”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ilford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Ilford Recorder