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Vatican tamps down controversy, says no yuca for the Eucharist

Martin M. Barillas Martin M. Barillas Follow Martin

ROME, March 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — According to Vatican officials, there are no current plans to allow a change in the bread that is used as matter for the Eucharist.

Controversy was afoot after 80-year-old Father Francisco Taborda, S.J., a Brazilian theologian, said in February while attending a seminar in Rome that a watershed debate regarding the Eucharist was a probable topic at the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region in October.

A spokesman for the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops told CNA that his statements “are exclusively personal” and do not represent official plans.

Fr. Taborda suggested that wheaten bread could be substituted with yuca, a root common in Latin America in use as a staple food. Also known as manioc or cassava, it is the source of tapioca. The Catholic Church regards wheaten bread and wine as the only suitable matter to be used as species for confecting the Eucharist, the central mystery of the Catholic faith.

Fr. Taborda told Crux last month that environmental conditions in the hot and damp climate of the Amazon make communion wafers unsuitably moist. Suggesting a departure from the norm inherited from the Gospel, the Jesuit said that when bread is too moist, “it’s not bread, and if it’s not bread, it’s not the Eucharist.” He added, “In the Amazon, bread is made out of yuca.” The bishops of the expansive tropical region, he said, should be allowed to decide on the matter used in Eucharistic consecration.

Bishop Fabio Fabene told Catholic News Agency on Friday that a change from the millennial formula of bread made from wheat alone as matter for the Eucharist does “not appear in the preparatory document for the special assembly next October and, therefore, is not a subject of the next synod.”

According to CNA, Bishop Fabene said “the changing of the Eucharistic matter is the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”A LifeSiteNews article suggested that altering the matter for the Eucharist would signify the founding of a “new religion.” Msgr. Charles Pope wrote at National Catholic Register: “Really, the discussion should end here — but, sadly, exotic and highly dubious ideas such as this one have become daily fare in this era of weaponized ambiguity.”

Fr. Taborda, an emeritus professor at the Jesuit School of Philosophy and Theology (FAJE) in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, has written a number of books, some of which deal with the theology of the sacraments.

The Catholic Catechism

According to Canon 924 §2 of the Code of Canon Law, the bread used to confect the Blessed Sacrament states that it “must be only wheat.” The wine used as matter must be similarly natural and made from grapes mixed only with water.

While the Catholic Church has a number of different rites, which stem from the various original patriarchates such as Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria, and thus has incorporated certain elements of various cultures, the matter used in the Eucharist has always been closely regulated.

In the West, the Latin rite of the Mass uses azymous (unleavened) bread, for example, the Byzantine rite validly uses leavened bread. Regional differences are, however, limited to Church doctrine.

CNA quoted Fr. Mark Morozowich, who serves as dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America, regarding variations in form. “Leavened or unleavened,” Morozowich said, the Catholic Church has always used bread made from wheat. Similarly, he said that whether it is mixed with hot or cold water, “the Church has always used wine.” The formula can be found in the Gospel of St. Luke, wherein Jesus is recorded to have said:

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’" Luke 22:19

“Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, ‘Take this and share it among yourselves.’” Luke 22:17

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