CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
Letter to all Presidents of
the Episcopal Conferences
concerning the use of low-gluten altar breads and
as matter for the celebration of the Eucharist
Vatican City, 19 June 1995
Your Eminence / Your Excellency:
In recent years this Dicastery has followed closely the development of the
question of the use of low-gluten altar breads and mustum as matter for
the celebration of the Eucharist.
After careful study conducted in collaboration with a number of concerned
episcopal conferences, this congregation in its ordinary session of June 22,
1994, has approved the following norms, which I am pleased to communicate:
I. Concerning permission to use low-gluten altar breads:
A. This may be granted by ordinaries to priests and laypersons affected by
celiac disease, after presentation of a medical certificate.
B. Conditions for the validity of the matter:
1) Special hosts "quibus glutinum ablatum est" [that are gluten-free] are
invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.
2) Low-gluten hosts are valid matter, provided that they contain the amount of
gluten sufficient to obtain the confection of bread, that there is no addition
of foreign materials and that the procedure for making such hosts is not such as
to alter the nature of the substance of the bread.
II. Concerning permission to use mustum:
A. The preferred solution continues to be communion per intinctionem
[Communion by intinction], or in concelebration under the species of bread
B. Nevertheless, the permission to use mustum can be granted by
ordinaries to priests affected by alcoholism or other conditions which prevent
the ingestion of even the smallest quantity of alcohol, after presentation of a
C. By mustum is understood fresh juice from grapes or juice preserved by
suspending its fermentation (by means of freezing or other methods which do not
alter its nature).
D. In general, those who have received permission to use mustum are
prohibited from presiding at concelebrated Masses. There may be some exceptions
however: in the case of a bishop or superior general; or, with prior approval of
the ordinary, at the celebration of the anniversary of priestly ordination or
other similar occasions. In these cases the one who presides is to communicate
under both the species of bread and that of mustum, while for the other
concelebrants a chalice shall be provided in which normal wine is to be
E. In the very rare instances of laypersons requesting this permission, recourse
must be made to the Holy See.
III. Common Norms:
A. The ordinary must ascertain that the matter used conforms to the above
B. Permissions are to be given only for as long as the situation continues which
motivated the request.
C. Scandal is to be avoided.
D. Given the centrality of the celebration of the Eucharist in the life of the
priest, candidates for the priesthood who are affected by celiac disease or
suffer from alcoholism or similar conditions may not be admitted to holy orders.
E. Since the doctrinal questions in this area have now been decided,
disciplinary competence is entrusted to the Congregation for Divine Worship and
the Discipline of the Sacraments.
F. Concerned Episcopal conferences shall report to the Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments every two years regarding the
application of these norms.
With warm regards and best wishes, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger