Why are gluten free hosts invalid?

I hope a priest will answer this. I believe in transubstantiation. All the uproar about producing gluten-free or low gluten hosts seems like nonsense. A consecrated host is changed substantially into the Body and Blood of Our Lord (under the APPEARANCE of bread). How could it then hurt anyone? In all of history it never has. Why now? In Protestant ‘consubstantiation’, the substance wouldn’t change and the communicant might have a problem. But a host consecrated at a Catholic Mass? Might this be a trick of the Deceiver to get people to fear and therefore avoid the Eucharist? All discussions seem to revolve around the mundane reasons for the use of wheat, etc. but no mention of the miracle of transubstantiation. Baffling.

A valid sacrament requires proper matter and form. For example, a priest cannot consecrate rice cakes at Mass. Nor could he consecrate a proper host by reading a Shakespeare sonnet.

When it comes to the Eucharist the sacrament requires true wheat bread:

There are, however, various sorts of bread, either because they consist of different materials, ** such as wheat, barley, pulse and other products of the earth; or because they possess different qualities, ** some being leavened, others altogether without leaven. It is to be observed that, with regard to the former kinds, the words of the Saviour show that the bread should be wheaten; for, according to common usage, when we simply say bread, we are sufficiently understood to mean wheaten bread. This is also declared by a figure in the Old Testament, because the Lord commanded that the loaves of proposition, which signified this Sacrament, should be made of fine flour.

  • Catechism of Trent, Constituent Parts of the Eucharist,The Matter
  1. If the bread is not made of wheat flour, or if so much other grain is mixed with the wheat that it is no longer wheat bread, or if it is adulterated in some other way, there is no Sacrament.
  • De defectibus, sect. 3

The Church must always be cautious about defining such important matters. When the Church examined the issue of gluten free bread She determined that it cannot properly be called wheat bread. However, the Church does recognize low gluten hosts as true wheat bread:

Circular Letter to all Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences concerning the use of low-gluten altar breads and mustum as matter for the celebration of the Eucharist

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.
  1. 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.
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