July 10, 2017
At the Pope’s request, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has urged the world’s bishops to “watch over the quality of the bread and wine to be used at the Eucharist and also those who prepare these materials.”
The Vatican directive indicates that gluten-free hosts are not valid matter for the Eucharist, although low-gluten hosts may be used.
“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 Congregation noted. “Today, however, these materials are also sold in supermarkets and other stores and even over the internet.”
Quoting from a 2004 instruction, the Congregation stated that “the bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition.” The Congregation added:
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. It is a grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist …
Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist. Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.
Again citing previous documents, the Congregation stated that “the wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances … Great care should be taken so that the wine intended for the celebration of the Eucharist is well conserved and has not soured.”
The Congregation added:
Mustum, which is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature (for example, freezing), is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist …The Ordinary is competent to give permission for an individual priest or layperson to use low-gluten hosts or mustum for the celebration of the Eucharist. Permission can be granted habitually, for as long as the situation continues which occasioned the granting of permission.
Citing a 2013 communication, the Congregation said that “Eucharistic matter made with genetically modified organisms can be considered valid matter.”
The Congregation concluded by suggesting that “an episcopal conference could mandate one or more religious congregations or another body capable of carrying out the necessary checks on production, conservation and sale of the Eucharistic bread and wine in a given country and for other countries to which they are exported.”
The Congregation’s letter to bishops, dated June 15, was released by the Holy See Press Office on July 8.
- Lettera della Congregazione per il Culto Divino e la Disciplina dei Sacramenti ai Vescovi sul pane e il vino per l’Eucaristia, 08.07.2017 (Holy See Press Office)