Holy Communion (or Eucharist) is one of the most important sacraments in the Catholic Church. But Catholics who suffer from Celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance may need to sit out this portion of Sunday mass because the Vatican has confirmed the unleavened bread used cannot be entirely gluten-free.
Although low-gluten bread is allowed, there needs to be enough protein in the wheat to make it without additives, which means those who are severely allergic to gluten should probably think twice before participating in communion.
According to a letter written by Cardinal Robert Sarah, the new rules about gluten in communion bread are necessary because it's sold in supermarkets and on the Internet. Sarah added that the wine used for Eucharist must be "natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances."
In the same letter, Sarah reminded bishops that communion bread should only be made by individuals “distinguished by their integrity," and adding fruit or sugar to the bread is a "grave abuse."
“It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance,” Sarah added.
For people who can't drink wine, a thick non-fermented grape juice is considered “valid matter” for the sacrament.
The Eucharist is particularly meaningful for Catholics, who believe the bread and wine turn into the body and blood of Christ. And, now that the Vatican has spoken, it appears the body of Christ cannot be gluten-free.