Gift of Finest . . . Rice?

As a rabbi once accused of being "too soft on the Catholic Church"—liking Catholicism too much to make that particular Lutheran comfortable—I read with special sensitivity the report on a young girl and her family who left the Catholic Church for a liturgical reason, of all things.

According to the Associated Press, the young girl suffers from celiac disease, which causes her to get sick from eating gluten, a protein in wheat and other grains. She can safely eat rice. But Church law requires the Host to be made of wheat, so the family left the Church and went Methodist "where the rules on communion are more flexible because Methodists believe the bread and wine are symbolic, not the actual transubstantiated body and blood of Jesus." That's how the AP reported the case.

The Church's position is explained by a spokesman for the Boston archdiocese in this language: "Bread is central to the Eucharist because of the imagery of Scripture, because of the prayers of the Christian community going back thousands of years." The Vatican takes the matter seriously enough that, in 1994, it issued rules for all bishops to follow. Among them: "Special hosts (which do not contain gluten) are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist." And, the AP continued, citing the parish priest involved in the case,

"I think part of the problem is we are so...

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