Communion Hosts for Celiacs: Yes or No?

Communion wafers must have some wheat to be valid

This Easter Sunday I will not be taking the communion wafer. Yes, not even the low-gluten host. It’s not a decision I make lightly.

According to the Catholic church, the wafer must contain some wheat to be valid (“bread of life”) and a low-gluten host is acceptable for celebrating the Eucharist because it has some wheat. A non-gluten wafer is not valid. For more information, go to the Catholic Celiac Society.*

For several years I did take the low-gluten host and I didn’t notice any reaction. I figured the wafer contained such a minuscule amount of gluten that I could get by.

I was wrong.

Some of us with celiac disease, like my son, suffer recognizable symptoms after eating a crumb of gluten. Other people like me have so many other food allergies we often aren’t sure what food caused what reaction, or they don’t have noticeable reactions. But even if we don’t react with a stomach ache or a rash or lethargy, that tiny bit of gluten can wreak havoc on our bodies and lead to longterm healthcare issues.

Having a little bit of gluten every Sunday is like an alcoholic having a sip of vodka every Sunday.

Watch this video from Dr. Tom O’Bryan, a celiac disease expert.

I know many Catholics with celiac disease who will celebrate the Eucharist with a low-gluten host this Sunday, but I won’t be one of them. Will you?

*In 2003, the Vatican did say Catholics with celiac disease can celebrate the Eucharist by wine only, so Catholics have that option.

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