The communion bread used by Roman Catholic churches must not be gluten-free, the Vatican has ruled, although it may be manufactured from GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.
Cardinal Robert Sarah of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated in a letter to bishops that the bread used to celebrate the Eucharist can be low-gluten. But, there must be enough protein present in the wheat so that additives are not needed, the BBC reports.
There is a new mandate on communion wine, as well. Cardinal Sarah said it must be “natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances.” Barring such, alcohol-free mustum in its place is “grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature.”
These new rules are necessary because communion bread is now being sold in supermarkets and online, the cardinal added. Until recently, it was only certain religious communities that made the unleavened bread and wine used in Catholic masses, Huffington Post reports.
The Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is a sacrament practiced by Roman Catholics, who believe that the bread and wine are converted to the body ad blood of Jesus, respectively, through a process called transubstantiation.
According to the Bible’s New Testament:
“And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:22-24).
The letter was issued at the behest of Pope Francis, the cardinal added.
There are over 1.2 million Roman Catholics around the world.