Tuesday, August 31, 2004

well after i posted, just now, my article about the bumper sticker...."GET THOSE CHRISTMAS CAROLS OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS, i read *this*, below, in the new york times.



October 4, 2004
Communion and Illness in Conflict

RIELLE, N.J. - Haley Waldman, 8 years old, with stringy brown hair and a sensitive stomach, comes from a Roman Catholic family, and her mother is on a quest for her to take holy communion the same way as any other Catholic girl.

But Haley cannot eat wheat. She suffers from celiac disease, an obscure but increasingly diagnosed condition that strikes the small intestine, and even the trace amount of wheat in the communion wafer, or host, can make her ill.

So she and her mother, who live in Brielle, on the Jersey Shore about 60 miles south of Manhattan, are asking the Catholic Church to make an exception. They want a wafer without wheat. They even tracked down a Seattle company that bakes special wheat-free communion wafers that several other Christian denominations, like Methodists and Episcopalians, allow.

Haley's quest has reached all the way up to the Vatican, reverberating in parishes, on talk radio and in newspaper columns, and rallying various groups of celiac sufferers to the third grader's side.

But so far, the church isn't budging.

"Bread, to be valid matter for the eucharist, must be made solely of wheat," said a statement issued by their diocese on behalf of the Catholic Church. "This is not an issue to be determined at the diocesan or parish level, but has already been decided for the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world by Vatican authority."

But Haley and her mother are not backing down, even though they have lost the first couple of rounds of this fight. Last winter, when Haley and her mother first asked for a wheat-free wafer, church officials handed down a strict communion commandment: Thou shall not eat rice. Or soy.

Then, in May, when Haley's family found a New Jersey priest who offered to surreptitiously slip her a soy wafer at the altar, the Bishop of Trenton found out and invalidated her communion, saying that only wheat wafers are holy.

"I don't want to bash the church," said Haley's mother, Elizabeth Pelly-Waldman. "But Christ would not have turned away my child for a medical condition."

Ms. Pelly-Waldman, 30, a mother of four who is in the middle of a divorce, has been writing letters to the Vatican, marching in walks and waging a publicity war from a small, tidy house where flourless peanut butter cookies sit in the fridge and wheat-free pretzels on the counter.

"Who am I to take on 2,000 years of history?" she asks.

Celiac, a genetic disease, affects 1 in 133 people, including many who are never get tested and fail to make the connection between intense stomach pain and eating gluten, an elastic protein in wheat and other grains.

In New Jersey, where about 35 percent of the population is Catholic, some question the Vatican's stance at a time of hemorrhaging church membership and priest abuse scandals.

"Jesus was compassionate," said the Rev. Kenneth Lasch, a retired priest from Mendham. "Why can't they be?"

Others line up behind tradition.

"The rules are the rules," said Msgr. Christopher C. DiLella, of Madison. "And they're coming from Rome."

[I belive this is the defeinition of "Facicism/Nazi-ism", where the State is greater than the individual, and that one must submit always to the State.!!]

"We've never made any exceptions on this because we have to safeguard the sacraments," said a priest who works with the Congregation for Divine Worship, a Vatican committee overseeing Catholic practices, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "I get the sense this mother is a little bit stubborn."

And she may be. The church offered Haley a low-gluten wafer, but her mother rejected it, based on the advice of several doctors, including a gastroenterologist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. They said any amount of gluten could be harmful.

The Vatican has said that those who cannot eat wheat can skip the wafer and drink the consecrated communion wine, another way to partake in the ritual. But Haley's mother still said no.

"It's not appropriate for children to drink alcohol," she said. "Even a sip."

Haley's father, Jason Waldman, a bartender and sometimes construction worker who is not Catholic, thinks the church is being rigid. At the same time, he said his wife may be carrying this a bit far.

According to Catholic Canon 924, "The most sacred eucharistic sacrifice must be celebrated with bread and wine." It also states, "The bread must be made of wheat alone." This comes from the Catholic belief that Christ ate unleavened wheat bread at the Last Supper and handed out pieces to his disciples, saying, "This is my body."

But nowhere in the Bible is wheat bread specified. Some people even think the Last Supper bread was made from barley.

"Theologically, there's no reason why Catholics have to have a wheat wafer," said Mahlon H. Smith, a Methodist minister and religion professor at Rutgers University. "I don't know why they're insisting on this."

Catholic scholars concede the wheat-only rule comes from tradition - just like many other rituals in Catholicism. And Vatican officials say they confronted the wheat issue before. Years ago, Filipino Catholics asked the church if they could bake communion wafers from rice, much easier to grow in the tropics. The Vatican said no. Vatican officials also said that the communion ritual is so central to Catholicism that men who cannot eat wheat hosts wafers should not become priests. Some Catholics have left the church over this. In one well-documented case, a Boston family quit their congregation and joined a Methodist church after their daughter, a celiac patient, was denied a wheat-free host. Annette Bentley, president of the American Celiac Society, published a study on celiac disease and religious rites in 1988 in The Journal of General Psychology. She found that many people with celiac disease who received communion were pocketing the wafers or discretely spitting them out.

Ms. Pelly-Waldman shared her frustrations with the news media, and after articles about Haley came out, several priests contacted the family, offering to perform her communion with a wheat-free host.

The family ended up going to a Catholic priest "just down the road," Mr. Waldman said. They agreed to keep his identity a secret. But Ms. Pelly-Waldman invited a local newspaper reporter to attend the Mass at which Haley received communion, and after the reporter wrote about the service, Bishop John M. Smith of the Diocese of Trenton issued a statement saying Haley's communion was invalid.


go get a bumper sticker NOW to get these xmas carols out of our schools.


vote for Kerry!!