Finnish Church to appeal to Constantinople about gluten-free Eucharist for celiacs

Helsinki, Finland, October 27, 2021

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The Bishops’ Council of the Finnish Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Constantinople) met on October 13 in Helsinki under the chairmanship of Archbishop Leo of Helsinki and All Finland, discussing, among other things, the issue of people who suffer from celiac disease receiving Holy Communion.

The hierarchs previously discussed the matter in February, and instructed Fr. John Lampropoulos to study the stance and practice of the Church of Greece.

“Those who suffer from celiac disease cannot commune of the Body of Christ at the Eucharist due to their intolerance to wheat protein. Those who suffer from an acute form cannot commune of the Blood of Christ either, because it could also contain particles of wheat flour,” the Finnish Church wrote in its February report.

In his presentation at the session earlier this month, Archbishop Leo reported that having studied the issue, Fr. John reported back that the Greek Church has no developed position on the matter. The bioethicist Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki told him that it is a canonical issue and that it requires an appeal to the Canonical Department of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Thus, Abp. Leo will appeal to Constantinople for a resolution to the matter.

As OrthoChristian previously reported, at least one hierarch of Constantinople has addressed the matter before.

On May 1, 2018, Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver of the Greek Archdiocese of America (Patriarchate of Constantinople) issued an encyclical to his priests and parishioners after hearing of a number of cases where people approached the chalice and asked to be communed only of the Blood of Christ, believing that the Body would harm them.

He responded:

If there are Orthodox Christians in our parishes who believe that, after the Holy Spirit consecrates the Bread and the Wine during the Divine Liturgy, the gifts are still bread and wine, they should never again receive the divine Body and Blood again, until they believe that the holy sacrament of our Lord Himself is His spiritual presence, that is, both His Body and His Blood.

… And, if the doctor's instructions to them about not eating the Body (bread) because of the doctor's medical knowledge are considered more important than the Holy Eucharist, then they should not receive the Holy Eucharist of the Lord, unless or until they believe that the Creator of all has more knowledge regarding eternal life than all the medical science of this fallen world.

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Alexander Leitner10/28/2021 3:11 pm
@Leena: Please go and join a protestant group! You are wrong in Holy Orthodoxy. It is well known how protestant-influenced the Finnish Church is. It is the only orthodox church that follows even the WESTERN CALCULATION OF PASCHA!!!
Mariam Visagio10/28/2021 3:33 am
This is blasphemy. Admitting that the Body and Blood of Christ is just wheat protein. No wonder they are having reactions, it is their lack of faith. To them Holy Communion is symbolic, no wonder they suffer! They shouldn't be receiving in the first place.
Antiochene Son10/27/2021 11:47 pm
@Leena: The Lord will not allow His Flesh to harm anyone unless it is His will.
Leena Juvonen10/27/2021 9:19 pm
Our Lord taught us through His own example; He collected some grain for the needy in the field, He healed the sick on Sabbath - and was very aggressively repremanded by the Phariseans. Jesus was pragmatic, He followed the commandment of agape instead of following the dead dogma of the Phariseans. If the Church and the fathers will not follow His lead, what are they? Certainly not something our Lord will recognise as His chosen ones. So, please, remember who you are serving and rememberthat He, the God, was human too. Would he force His beloved Mother to eat something that makes Her ill, no matter how sanctified that substance might be. The faith is in our heart and spirit, the material form is irrelevant. God will not give us a stone to to eat when we ask for bread, neither does He force His children to eat anything that makes them ill - or even could kill their body. Superstition, ignorance, lack of compassion, those are the dark forces that ome of those cruel minds seem to be possessed by.
David10/27/2021 8:21 pm
They are not discussing a wheat allergy or intolerance, they are speaking about people who have Celiac disease.
Brother Lazarus10/27/2021 5:23 pm
Perhaps someone needs to travel to Finland and offer teachings on the Orthodox Eucharist to counter this trendy issue of the West where after millenniums of bread being a staple of life, the slightest contact with water, wheat, salt, and yeast presents physical dangers? Compound that lunacy with the Source of all Healing being present in the elements. What's next, grape Kool-Aid instead of wine?
Antiochene Son10/27/2021 2:13 pm
I have known celiacs who receive the Eucharist without any ill effects. Before the last 20 years, who ever even heard of this issue? Who ever abstained from the eucharist because of an allergy? I am afraid the acceptance of COVID mitigation efforts at the chalice (multiple spoons, zero contact with the spoon, etc.) has begun a wave of hypochondria that will lead to a host of health-related challenges to every practice of the Church. What's next, cremation?
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