Why you should care about gluten-free Communion—even if you eat wheat

After watching many secular media outlets butcher these very ready facts about gluten in the Eucharist, though, and after seeing educated Catholics retreat huffily into their corners, I began to wonder if I have a dog in this fight, after all. Maybe we all do. Because maybe this is not the first time we’ve seen some version of this fight.

Read the rest of my latest for America Magazine.

7 thoughts on “Why you should care about gluten-free Communion—even if you eat wheat”

  1. Interesting debate ! We don’t have any allergies but we do have a very autistic daughter who is totally non verbal who receives communion regularly. Our whole parish moved heaven and earth to get her to first communion, including our very traditional, very Irish, Parish Priest. He came to our house every week in the month before and made sure our Daughter understood her commitment and was comfortable receiving the host.
    It gave me a huge insight into how the Church will always do everything they can to help those who need help.

  2. Plenty of Catholics have been very dismissive of people who are unable to ingest gluten. And in any case, Simcha said “Catholics” not “Catholic priests.”

    1. But what is at issue here is church policy and practice, and particularly the recent CDW clarification. What some random lay people might think or say has nothing to do with whether and how a celiac can receive communion.

      1. Random lay people are the majority of our Catholic family. Their behavior matters because they can make the community inhospitable and make it seem as if Catholicism is the very opposite of what Christ taught. We are all responsible for being kind and charitable towards one another, even if we don’t understand the exact burdens each individual carries. I think that’s what Simcha was saying.

        1. But lay people can’t say “You can’t receive communion!” as Simcha suggests. Or. . . how do you understand them as being able to do so?

    2. Maybe, but I haven’t seen any in real life. Curiosity I’ve seen, but disapproval? Nope. I’m wondering if this is the sort of disapproval that primarily lurks out on the internet? The internet is so often a blessing – I’m sure lots of people with celiac only got their diagnosis (and the subsequent relief) thanks to google. But to read a fringe posting and assume from it that there is a widespread judgmental attitude among Catholics toward Celiacs (or what people are wearing to Mass or how their kids are behaved, etc.) , well I think that’s the dark side of the Information Age.

  3. This is totally misleading: “the cavalier attitude of many Catholics without sensitivities, who never wonder how it might feel to be told that receiving the Eucharist is the closest we’ll get to heaven this side of death, but too bad, you can’t have any.”

    Who in the world says this? At every parish I’ve been at (since gluten avoidance has been a thing, anyway), any celiacs who needed to have received communion by partaking from the cup, and generally the priest knows to let them do so first and from a chalice where no cross-contamination from the host has yet occurred. Have you heard of a priest refusing to make this accommodation for a celiac? I haven’t.

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