The petition's formatting is odd, but here's an excerpt:
Fellow Catholics, we need your support to help raise awareness and hopefully change concerning a Canon Law that in effect discriminates those born with food allergies. The Canon Law centers around the requirements of the ingredients of the communion host. According to Canon 925 of 1983 code of Canon Law, all communion hosts must be unleavened bread made of wheat and water � no exceptions. However, no where in the Bible does it say �of wheat�. It only says unleavened bread. Just like today, there were many grains available in Jesus� time. We simply do not know if the bread at the last supper was wheat, barley, or another grain. And after all, it was Jesus who said, �This is my body which is given up for you. Take this ALL of you and eat it.�
Up until a few months ago, our son who has life-threatening allergies to wheat had been receiving a specially manufactured rice host. We were fortunate that our previous parish priest used his pastoral judgment to do what he and we consider to be the right thing and give our son Holy Communion with the rice host.
However, we were recently told by our new parish priests that our nine-year old son can no longer receive his rice host, as according to the Catholic Church �a rice host cannot be consecrated� (see US Council of Bishops web site). We had to try and explain to our young son why the host was being taken away, which was a tough thing to do, especially when we nor the Church have any good answers. [...]
Now, the Church doctrine holds that full communion is the receiving of either the Body (host) or the Precious Blood (wine). So that is the solution that has been offered to us and is what we are doing now. However, only receiving one is not what the disciples did at the last supper. Jesus washed the feet of others, cured lepers, prayed with sinners � he welcomed all. Now, our son who deals with his food allergies on a daily basis is being separated out from the Church, the one place he should seek comfort.
I have asked many ordained clergy what they thought Jesus would do, since as simple as that may be, that is how we are called by the Church to live. The ones who would give me a straight answer stated they do believe Jesus would give my son the rice host. In my opinion, that should be the end of the conversation, but the Church is a Church of rules. We found a Bible verse that I wish the Church would keep in mind. It is Mark 7: 5-8, �These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.�
You can read the whole petition, which calls for a change to Church law, here; over seven hundred people have signed it so far.
Now, I want to approach this with the utmost sympathy for those who suffer from various food allergies/intolerances which make the receipt of Holy Communion under the appearances of bread and wine difficult or even, in extreme cases, impossible. This is indeed a difficult cross to carry, and many Catholics who suffer from various forms of gluten or wheat allergy deal with it on a weekly basis.
The Church has been doing her best to approach the situation with pastoral care. The option to receive under only one species exists, as the petition's author points out. There are low-gluten hosts, some of them extremely low gluten, which are tolerable for some Catholics who otherwise cannot receive the Body of Christ. Many priests are very sensitive to their parishioners who have special needs, and will ensure, for instance, that a chalice other than that in which the commingling occurs will be available for those parishioners who can't tolerate even microscopic amounts of wheat. Any lack of such sensitivity and willingness to accommodate should be addressed to the proper diocesan authorities.
But there are things the Church simply can't do--and consecrating rice is one of those things.
This excellent article goes into many details about why the Church uses wheat bread, and wheat bread only, as the matter for the Body of Christ. Suffice it to say that there is more than some vague custom behind the idea, just as the use of wine only as the matter for the Blood of Christ is not a mere human tradition. What Christ Himself did, we do; the Church takes care not to alter what should not be altered. The matter of the sacraments comes from Christ Himself; the Church is the guardian of these holy things, but she does not "own" them in the sense of having created them, and she can't change or abolish them, because she has no power to do that.
The petition's author illustrates the harm that can be done when a well-meaning but, perhaps, undereducated pastor sets a precedent that later leads to a grave misunderstanding. The child in question was receiving, for some time, a piece of rice bread when everyone else was receiving Jesus. The priest never had the power to consecrate the rice host, and so it remained merely bread. If the child was also receiving from a chalice, he was receiving Holy Communion--but if not, he was not.
The new pastor has quite rightly suspended the odd practice of feeding the child rice bread at Communion--and now his parents appear to believe that he is being deprived of Holy Communion. It's not possible to illustrate better the harm being done--because, again, the child never received Holy Communion under the appearance of rice bread--he only received bread. But the hurt feelings and sense of entitlement persist; the parents appear to believe that their son has a right to receive Communion under both species, not only the Precious Blood. Yet there are many people who cannot or who choose not to receive under both species at every Mass--and not one of them is being deprived in any way of Holy Communion. Should a person who is allergic to alcohol demand that the Church consecrate grape-flavored soda for him, so that he can receive under both species? Of course not (and I don't know anyone who would do that). But having come to believe that their son was receiving the Eucharistic Lord when he was only receiving rice bread, the parents now see the withholding of this as a deprivation.
I am sometimes asked why I have reservations about the prevalence of Holy Communion under both species, and why I think it would be better if, on ordinary Sundays, only one species were to be used. This whole situation illustrates one of my reasons: because when people are accustomed to receiving under both species, they begin to think that this is something to which they have a right, and that being asked to receive only under one species is somehow a lesser experience of Holy Communion. In fact, as Catholics should know, the smallest portion of the Host or the smallest drop of the Precious Blood contains the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus; it is not necessary to be able to receive under both species to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. But the authors of this petition, and indeed, perhaps many of the signers of it as well, seem to think that those who cannot receive the Host because of a wheat allergy or intolerance are somehow being kept away from the fullest encounter with Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament--which is so clearly wrong that it is painful to contemplate it.
It is my hope that the archbishop to whom this petition is being addressed, Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, will use the opportunity to educate the faithful in his flock about the nature of the Blessed Sacrament, and about the Church's inability to change what Christ Himself has ordained. No efforts by any Catholic priest can suffice to consecrate invalid matter--and what a pity it was that the innocent boy at the center of this controversy was, for years, given a piece of mere unconsecrated rice bread in place of the Blessed Sacrament, when it has been possible all along for him to receive Christ--Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity--by receiving the Precious Blood.