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Health alert over new formula communion hosts

The NSW Coeliac Society says Catholics with coeliac disease are likely to suffer ill effects if they receive the Eucharist in the form of hosts made under a new formula which begins production this week.

Online Catholics spoke with the Society's technical officer Graham Price for a report published in this morning's edition of the online journal.

Price said that the new formula, which uses wheaten corn flour, contains 200 parts per million of (wheat) gluten. Wheat gluten damages the lining of the bowel in sufferers, preventing the absorption of nutrients. This causes many different and wide ranging health effects, from miscarriage to cancer.

The National Liturgical Commission instructed Australia's largest host producer, Ozanam Industries, to find a new formula for host production following a 24 July 2003 instruction from the Congregation for the Faith. The instruction forbids gluten-free hosts but allows a "low-gluten" formula. In recent years, Ozanam Industries has been producing gluten free hosts out of maize flour.

Rose Bay Sydney parish priest Fr Tony Doherty told Online Catholics that, in his view, the Vatican Instruction reflects a Latin American mindset in which "the idea of 'gluten free' hosts is just an expression of (US) American excess".

"The insistence on wheat flour by Rome is another unfortunate occasion when non essential matters create discord," he commented.

"Valid" Hosts could make you sick (Online Catholics 18/8/04)

Redemptionis Sacramentum
Vatican document draws new attention to low-gluten hosts and 'mustum' (Catholic News Service 23/4/04)
Coeliac Society of Australia
NSW Coeliac Society
Girl's First Communion Nixed Over Wheat-Free Wafer (Associated Press/ 12/8/04)
Ozanam Industries

18 Aug 2004