Bread and wine “is what the Lord Jesus wanted and one cannot modify it,” affirmed Monsignor Claudio Magnoli, expert in liturgy and member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. On July 12, 2017, he clarified on Vatican Radio the circular letter “on the bread and wine for the Eucharist”, published four days earlier.
At the Pope’s request, the letter sent by the Dicastery to all Bishops worldwide reminds that the bread and wine, consecrated in the course of Eucharistic Celebrations, must be authentically of wheat and grapes, without mixture and elaborated correctly.
“The letter asks Bishops to exercise above all great vigilance on the quality of wine, of bread, because the matter of the Eucharistic sacrifice will determine what we then believe of the mystery of the Eucharist . . . there is a very close relation between what we believe of the profundity of the Mystery and what is manifested through the sensible signs of bread and wine,” explained Monsignor Magnoli.
“The choice of unleavened bread has always been the choice of the Western, Latin Church. If one of these elements is lacking – bread of wheat and wine of the vine – the Eucharist we celebrate is not the Eucharist,” he stressed.
At the root of the abuse, which led the Vatican to publish this refocusing, he sees a “theology of inculturation”: “the idea that Jesus chose bread and wine simply as elements of His culture, that of the Mediterranean world.” In this perspective, certain theologians “put forth the hypothesis that in other regions bread and wine could be substituted with other elements proper to each culture,” such as sake in Japan, manioc in Africa, beer in Northern Europe.
In reality, he continued, bread and wine are strong, determinant elements of the Sacrament. “It is what the Lord Jesus wanted and one cannot modify it,” he stressed.