Monday, January 25, 2010

Letter sent to Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences from the Vatican: The official position regarding gluten and the Eucharist.

March 10, 1996 

To the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences from the Vatican. This represents the official position of the Catholic Church with regard to gluten and the Eucharist.

From Archbishop Derek Worlock.

Your Eminence/Excellency:
In recent years, this Dicastery has followed closely the development of the question of the use of low-gluten altar breads and mustum as matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.
After careful study, conducted in collaboration with a number of concerned Episcopal Conferences, this Congregation in its ordinary session of June 22, 1994 has approved the following norms, which I am pleased to communicate:
  • I. Concerning permission to use low-gluten altar breads:

    • A. This may be granted by Ordinaries to priests and lay persons affected by celiac disease, after presentation of a medical certificate.
    • Conditions for the validity of the matter:

      • 1) Special hosts quibus glutinum ablatum est are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist;
      • 2) Low-gluten hosts are valid matter, provided that they contain the amount of gluten sufficient to obtain the confection of bread, that there is no addition of foreign materials, and that the procedure for making such hosts is not such as to alter the nature of the substance of the bread.
  • III. Common Norms:

    • A. The Ordinary must ascertain that the matter used conforms to the above requirements.
    • B. Permissions are to be given only for as long as the situation continues which motivated the request.
    • C. Scandal is to be avoided.
    • D. Given the centrality of the celebration of the Eucharist in the life of the priest, candidates for the priesthood who are affected by celiac disease of suffer from alcoholism of similar conditions may not be admitted to Holy Orders.
    • E. Since the doctrinal questions in this area have now been decided, disciplinary competence is entrusted to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
    • F. Concerned Episcopal Conferences shall report to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments every two years regarding the application of these norms.
With warm regards and best wishes, I am Sincerely yours in Christ.
 Archbishop Derek Worlock of Liverpool was the leader of the fight for Celiacs in the Catholic Church.   In the 1980's, Archbishop Derek Worlock was diagnosed with celiac disease, under his leadership, he tirelessly worked to allow celiacs to receive a special host.  Eventually his request was reluctantly granted. In 1996, Archbishop Worlock died of lung cancer.

The simple black slate tomb of Derek Worlock C.H. 8th Archbishop of Liverpool from 1976-1996.   St. Joseph's Chapel of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.