The Catholic Church this week gave people who are gluten-free another chance to do their favorite thing—talk about being gluten-free.
That’s because news surfaced that the Roman Catholic Church does not allow gluten-free communion wafers to be used as part of the sacrament of communion. Roman Catholics are known for their belief that during the Eucharist the host (the communion wafers or bread) is transubstantiated into the body of Christ. For the more sarcastically minded, this easily could raise the snarky accusation: If it’s really the body of Christ, what does it matter if it’s gluten free? Or, as Homer Simpson put it: If that’s the blood of Jesus, that guy was really wasted. Is the Vatican admitting that transubstantiation doesn’t really work? (Spoiler alert: No)
In some ways this is not, in fact, a new development. The recent statement reinforces instructions given by the Joseph Ratzinger-headed Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2004. But we are still left with the question: Why is the Vatican so obsessed with gluten?