A Spanish boy will be allowed receive his first Holy Communion this week after an agreement was reached with Catholic diocesan authorities in Huesca, a town in the Aragon region of Spain.
The boy who suffers from celiac disease, rendering him intolerant of the wheat gluten found in ordinary communion wafers, will receive Holy Communion in the form of a host specially confected of nearly gluten-free wheat flour made in Germany.
The boy's mother had earlier requested that her son receive Holy Communion in the form of a wafer made of maize flour, saying in that way she could be absolutely certain that he would have no reaction.
The pastor of their parish had refused to offer Holy Communion in the form of gluten-free wafers, having recurred to a document written by Benedict XVI before becoming pope that ruled these are invalid under Church law. According to local press reports, the priest also refused to allow the boy to receive communion in the form of mustum - grape juice that has only and imperceptible amount of alcohol
However, the 2003 letter written by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stated that nearly gluten-free hosts are permitted, "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."
Likewise, according to the document "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 Eucharist.", and may be used by celebrants of the Catholic liturgy and consumed by the congregation.
Church authorities had offered Holy Communion under the species of wine. However, this was refused by the boy's parents who pointed out that consumption of alcohol by minors is prohibited in Spain.
Catholic authorities had reached an agreement with the Celiac Association of Aragon (Spain) after examining a 2004 agreement reached in the neighboring province of Navarre that allows Catholic Spaniards suffering from celiac disease to receive Holy Communion in the form of hosts made of wheat starch. These will now be made available to the parish in question in Huesca.
The wheat-starch hosts, which are nearly gluten-free, are manufactured in Germany by Franz Hoch GMBH and are marketed by Arte Sacra de Candotti Claudio of Italy.