A Pray Tell reader writes:

I’ve been approached recently by a new parishioner about providing low-gluten hosts.  I’m curious how other parishes manage distribution of low-gluten hosts when you only have one of two folks who need a low-gluten host.

In the recent years, many more people have become aware of celiac sprue disease — the inability of people to ingest gluten, a key ingredient in wheat flour. Restaurants are adding, or noting, gluten-free items on their menus; schools are taking steps to accommodate students who can’t eat bread, or pasta, or the surprising number of foods of which wheat flour is an ingredient.

For Roman Catholics with this condition, the act of taking holy Communion would risk serious health complications. Some people with celiac disease are able to receive from the Cup; for others, the trace amount of gluten present (from the piece of the Eucharistic host) makes this impossible. And, unlike other traditions, using a host made from rice is not an option.

The U.S. conference of Catholic bishops has a document titled “A Short Introduction to Holy Communion and Celiac Sprue Disease” which notes that the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri have produced a very low-gluten host that is said to be safe for sufferers of Celiac Sprue disease.

I know of a few parishes where the entire parish simply uses low-gluten hosts. There are other parishes where a parishioner who needs a low-gluten host is able to check in with a sacristan before Mass, who will add a gluten-free host to those to be consecrated; the parishioner then sits in a certain spot of the church so that they receive this special host.

Some information and articles are online at www.catholicceliacs.org.  Are there other resources that Pray Tell readers know about? What are the best ways to handle this situation pastorally?

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