|See Norms for Use of Low-Glutin Bread and
July 24, 2003 Prot. 89/78-174 98
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has been for many years
studying how to resolve the difficulties that some of the faithful
encounter in receiving Holy Communion when for various serious reasons
they are unable to consume normal bread or wine.
A number of documents on this question have been issued in the past in
the interest of offering Pastors uniform and sure direction
(Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, Rescriptum, .15 December
1980, in Leges Ecclesiae, 6/4819, 8095-8096; De celebrantis
communione, 29 October 1982, in AAS 74, 1982, 1298-1299; Lettera
ai Presidenti delle. Conferenze Episcopali, 19 June 1995, in
Notitiae 31, 1995: 608-610).
In light of the experience of recent years, it has been deemed necessary
at this time to return to the topic, taking up the above-mentioned
documents and clarifying them wherever necessary.
A. The use of gluten-free hosts and mustum
1. Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the
celebration of the Eucharist.
2. Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided
they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of
bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of
procedures that would alter the nature of bread.
3. Mustum, which is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by
methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature (for
example, freezing), is valid matter for the celebration of the
B. Communion under one species or with a minimal amount of wine
1. A layperson affected by celiac disease, who is not able to
receive, Communion under the species of bread, including low-gluten
hosts, may receive Communion under the species of wine only.
2. A priest unable to receive Communion under the species of bread,
including low-gluten hosts, when taking part in a concelebration, may
with the permission of the Ordinary receive Communion under the species
of wine only.
3. A priest unable to ingest even a minimal amount of wine, who finds
himself in a situation where it, is difficult to obtain or store mustum,
when taking part in a concelebration, may with the permission of the
Ordinary receive Communion under the species of bread only.
4. If a priest is able to take wine, but only a very small amount, when
he is the sole celebrant, the remaining species of wine may be consumed
by a layperson participating in that celebration of the Eucharist.
C. Common Norms
1. The Ordinary is competent to give permission for an individual
priest or layperson to use low-gluten hosts or mustum. for the
celebration of the Eucharist. Permission can be granted habitually, for
as long as the situation continues which occasioned the granting of
2. When the principal celebrant at a concelebration has permission to
use mustum, a chalice of normal wine is to be prepared for the
concelebrants. In like manner, when he has permission to use low-gluten
hosts, normal hosts are to be provided for the concelebrants.
3. A priest unable to receive Communion under the species of bread,
including low-gluten hosts, may not celebrate the Eucharist
individually, nor may he preside at a concelebration.
4. Given the centrality of the celebration of the Eucharist in the life
of a priest, one must proceed with great caution before admitting to
Holy Orders those candidates unable to ingest gluten or alcohol without
5. Attention should be paid to medical advances in the area of celiac
disease and alcoholism and encouragement given to the production of
hosts with a minimal amount of gluten and of unaltered mustum.
6. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith enjoys competence over
the doctrinal aspects of this question, while disciplinary matters are
the competence of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline
of the Sacraments.
7. Concerned Episcopal Conferences shall report to the Congregation for
Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, at the time of
their ad Limina visit, regarding the application of these norms
as well as any new developments in this area.
Asking you to kindly communicate the contents of this letter to the
members of your Episcopal Conference, with fraternal regards and
prayerful best wishes, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger