That LAST SUPPER is still causing mayhem, or rather the insistence on replicating it exactly is leading us up the garden path of division and decay.
In the first place the Roman Catholic Church's insistence on continuing with a pre-atomic interpretation of the real presence is a divisive factor among christians. The forthcoming Eucharistic Congress, despite its emphasis on ecumenism (or whatever they are now calling it), has to have a special non-real-presence service to allow Protestants to participate.
Next is the insistence on the raw material for transubstantiation being actual bread. In other words it must contain (some) wheat, which poses a problem for many coeliacs.
Next comes the wine, which must (even in mustum) undergo some fermentation, making it unsuitable for recovering alcoholics.
A sole celebrant of the mass must receive under both species, so that rules out many coeliac and all recovering alcoholic priests. Concelebration is offered as an alternative.
Next comes the screening of priests. Excluding potential abusers is one thing but the Vatican has also ruled out coeliacs and alcoholics (even recovering) from the ministry in the future (as of 1995 per Joseph Ratzinger).
Next comes the absence of women at the Last Supper (and among the apostles generally) so we can't have women priests. Is it possible that meal was prepared/served by a female hand? Well we do now have altargirls. Do they imply a waitress at the Last Supper table? But hold on a minute. Altargirls are not allowed for the Latin mass. So was conversation at the Last Supper table in Latin, the language of the oppressor? All very strange.
In fact such is the insistence on replicating exactly the Last Supper, about which we only have hearsay evidence at best, that it is a wonder the Roman Catholic Church doesn't insist on a quorum of twelve attenders at mass among which there is at least one mortal sinner.
This post was provoked by my remembering a recent trip to Galway where I noticed that there was a special coeliac station for communicants in the Cathedral. As the hosts used cannot be gluten free (only minimal content) I assume coeliac communicants with zero gluten tolerance receive under the species of wine, unless, they are recovering alcoholics. Practising alcoholics would, of course, have no problem here.
I must say I find all this conflict between pinhead theology and pastoral care a bit bewildering betimes.
For those who find reading Vatican documents difficult the Bishop of Lansing has issued a practical manual and a licensed canonist has prepared a FAQ entry.