According to the Catholic Church, communion wafers -- known as “hosts” -- must be “unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition.” Gluten-free wafers are not acceptable. But low-gluten wafers can be used during the Holy Communion service, the Vatican has said, to accommodate worshippers with celiac disease and other forms of gluten intolerance. A communion wafer is typically about the size of a quarter and is made from wheat flour, shortening, salt, and water, containing about 22 milligrams of gluten. Wafers with less than 10 milligrams of gluten are considered low-gluten.
Some gluten is required:
- A 2003 policy passed down by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith allows low-gluten wafers, “provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread.”
- The policy also allows people who cannot drink wine to sip mustum, a type of fermented grape juice, during the sacred ritual.
- Catholics do not see the bread and wine consumed during communion as symbolic. In accordance with the doctrine of transubstantiation, they believe that they are consuming the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ.