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Vatican outlaws gluten-free bread for Holy Communion

Indian girl receiving communion (July 2012)Image copyright AFP
Image caption There are about 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world

Bread used to celebrate the Eucharist during Roman Catholic masses must not be gluten-free – although it may be made from genetically modified organisms, the Vatican has ruled.

In a letter to bishops, Cardinal Robert Sarah said the bread can be low-gluten.

But he said there must be enough protein in the wheat to make it without additives.

The new rules are needed because the bread is now sold in supermarkets and on the internet, the cardinal said.

Roman Catholics believe bread and wine served at the Eucharist are converted into the body and blood of Christ through a process known as transubstantiation.

Glossary of Roman Catholic terms

The wine used must also be “natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances”, said Cardinal Robert Sarah of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The ruling was issued at the request of Pope Francis, the letter said.

There are about 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world.

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