This story talks about Jenny Richardson, a five year old girl who suffers from celiac disease. Jenny cannot eat wheat. She can eat rice. The Catholic church (Archdiocese of Boston) has decided that it cannot allow Jenny to take communion using a rice wafer instead of the traditional wheat wafer. Efectively, this bars Jenny from receiving the full communion (body and blood of Christ). According to the story, the Archbishop’s ruling is in accord with a Vatican pronouncement that “Special hosts [which do not contain gluten] are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.”
Now, the story also mentions that the parish priest offered a compromise of allowing Jenny to take communion only with wine, but the parents refused, preferring to become members of a Methodist congregation.
There are two questions I would like to ponder:
Since the Catholic Church believes in transubstantion of the host, why would it rule that the composition of the wafer before transubstantiation invalidates the sacrament?
I am not catholic, but my understanding is that the sacrament of communion is considered vital for aceptance into the Church (the body of Christ? Or am I misremembering that particular symbolic identification). If so, does this ruling effectively bar Jenny from the “true faith”. If not, is the sacrament considered optional or dispensible for other members of the church. (Could an alcoholic Catholic, for instance, take the sacrament only with a wafer? For that matter, is non-alcoholic wine considered appropriate? Do the strict restrictions on content hold only for the wafer?)