It has been twenty years since the Catholic Church officially permitted the use of altar girls at Mass. While extending this permission for girls to serve, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) was also careful to state that:
“The Holy See wishes to recall that it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar. As is well known, this has led to a reassuring development of priestly vocations. Thus the obligation to support such groups of altar boys will always continue.”
Two decades later, there is still a great deal of emotion encountered when discussing the topic of altar servers. I have written about this in the past, only to be surprised at the level of confusion and misunderstanding regarding the subject. Many who enthusiastically endorse altar girls simply ignore the fact that Rome has always recognized the connection between boys serving at the altar and priestly vocations.
In a 2001 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments the topic was further clarified:
“With respect to whether the practice of women serving at the altar would truly be of pastoral advantage in the local pastoral situation, it is perhaps helpful to recall that the non-ordained faithful do not have a right to service at the altar, rather they are capable of being admitted to such service by the Sacred Pastors…
“Therefore, in the event that Your Excellency found it opportune to authorize service of women at the altar, it would remain important to explain clearly to the faithful the nature of this innovation, lest confusion might be introduced, thereby hampering the development of priestly vocations.”
In reviewing both the initial statement released in 1994, as well as the 2001 follow up, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf provided a succinct summary of the parameters governing the practice of allowing girls to serve at the altar:
- Diocesan Bishops can choose to authorize, or not, service at the altar by females.
- Just because another diocese has service by women, that doesn’t mean any other diocese has to have it.
- Priests cannot be forced to have females serve their Masses.
- Pastors cannot be forced by bishops to have female servers.
- There is an obligation to support the service at the altar by boys.
- There is a connection between service at the altar by boys and vocations to the priesthood.
- No lay person has the right to serve at the altar for Mass or any other liturgical worship.
The video segment below was produced by CatholicTV out of Boston. It features Bishop Christopher Coyne, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis:
Unfortunately, Bishop Coyne attacks a straw man when he argues that during his time teaching in seminary he did not know anyone who decided to become a priest because he had been an altar boy. To my knowledge, no one has ever claimed that the one inevitably led to the other. The relationship between serving at the altar and following a call to holy orders is one of correlation, not causation. But this correlation is strong. The argument has always been that involving boys in altar service during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass facilitates an important part of the discernment process, and contrary to Bishop Coyne’s implication, this has been a common denominator shared by most seminarians.
This isn’t mere speculation. We have the data. As I have previously written:
“…the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the findings from the 2014 Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood. Prepared by Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) for the USCCB, the survey was completed by 365 ordinands, an impressive 77 percent response rate…
“Of the 365 men surveyed this year, a whopping 80 percent had been altar boys during their formative years. In comparison, only 52 percent of ordinands had been lectors, less than a third had been youth ministers and only 15 percent had ever attended a World Youth Day or a Steubenville Youth Conference.”
This is consistent with prior surveys conducted by CARA. The percentage of ordinands who had been altar boys for some portion of their formative years were 70%, 71%, 75%, and 67% respectively for the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Based on the repeated statements and clarifications released by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments over the years, and the statistical findings reported to the USCCB itself by CARA, one can’t help but ask, “What is there to left to debate?”
The end of the video clip above gives us the answer. Bishop Coyne states that to discontinue the practice of female servers now would be telling girls that they are “second class citizens” instead of “welcoming them to the table.”
This of course is also the sort of language employed by those who try to impose a secular and misguided understanding of equality and participation into the liturgy. In our contemporary culture many fail to understand that serving in different ways does not reflect being any more or less important. To acknowledge that males and females are different — and have different roles — is healthy. People have been conditioned to think that if anything is “off limits,” someone is being denied their “rights”. The Church recognizes the dignity of the individual precisely because it extols the beauty of the differences between the sexes.
Finally, the claim that excluding girls from altar service negatively impacts the Church — or their role in it — doesn’t add up. An increasing number of parishes have already eliminated the use of female servers. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass, following the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962, does not permit for altar girls. More and more traditionally-minded parishes have sought consistency in the two forms by not permitting girls to serve at the Ordinary Form either. In most cases, parishes that embrace liturgical orthodoxy are experiencing increased attendance and participation. Their pews are packed with large families. If the sons of those families are serving at the altar, it’s not with envious looks from their mothers or sisters. If anything, there’s a sense of appropriate pride, and perhaps even the hope that one day, the family may see one of its own members join the priesthood.
In the end, this issue requires careful consideration and honest dialogue. To tackle this topic means we must look at the guidelines the Church has already issued, the origin and effects of the practice, and the data we have showing a connection between altar service and priesthood – which is, and will always be reserved for men. It is interesting that those who so vigorously defend a twenty-year-old practice — a recent innovation for a two-thousand-year-old institution — appear disinterested in actually studying its impact upon discernment and vocations. Instead, we are presented with arguments about “rights” and “feelings.” There is also anecdotal information that points to a loss of male altar servers when females are allowed. If the effect that the practice is having is detrimental to vocational discernment and ultimately the future of the priesthood, it can and should be reconsidered.
We can’t afford to ignore the signs. The next generation of Catholics — who will be deeply affected by the continuing decline of vocations to the priesthood — deserve better than that.
Originally published on September 17, 2014.
Brian Williams is a convert who entered the Catholic Church in 2006. He is a graduate of Long Beach State University with a BA in History. Brian blogs on life, liturgy and the pursuit of holiness at liturgyguy.com. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife and five children.
“Signs” is the important word. The priest is alter Christus, offering the sacrifice that unifies the whole world with the heavenly wedding feast of the Lamb. Altar girls obscure the sign value of the priest’s maleness, reducing it to something incidental. When altar servers are male, the significance of the male priesthood is reinforced and the vision of the faithful penetrates more deeply into the Mystery, to the underlying reality.
What a bunch of absolute baloney. Let’s get all woman to look like Muslims with veils and all women to the back. Only time women are allowed near the altar should be on Monday to clean it. Wow. This is 2014 Romulus not 214AD!
That is a revealing reply. I take it you view the direction of history as something predetermined, with our duty being merely to hold on and enjoy the ride. Not much room for free will in your progressive universe, is there? Not much room for anything but the passing present, either. So do please ask yourself where the progressive opinions will be in ten years or a hundred or so. Someplace else, no? That being the case, why do you want to waste energy being enslaved to the fad of the evanescent moment?
Richard, please read the final two paragraphs again. “This is 2014…not 214AD” is not an effective rebuttal. I would also direct you to the Church’s own view (stated earlier in the article) that boys serving at the altar has led to a “reassuring development of priestly vocations.”
Yeah. Funny how the only time “wimmin” are to be near the altar is to scrub the floor, then they’re all good with it. Oh. And ironing. Yeah. Lots of ironing. I am NOT arguing for female priests, so don’t even go there.
Brilliant rebuttal. Compelling argument.
No, you are not arguing for female priests. You are not arguing at all.
as a matter of fact, no, I wasn’t. Serving is different than saying. Or is that too much for a low IQ to comprehend?
I’m afraid we are now compelled to go there. Be honest with us: Do you favor ordaining women? If not, why not?
no you simpleton. I do NOT favor women priests for the simple reason it wouldn’t be a valid sacrament. Here’s a clue: if an altar boy could step over the body of a priest who dropped dead at the altar and say the mass, you’d have a point. There’s a difference between SAYING mass and serving mass. Or is that completely over your head?
You may recall I warned you about civil discourse? I’m here to show you the door.
I am a woman who veils out of humility for the presence of our Lord in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I am educated, faithfully Catholic, and I never feel like a second-class citizen. And if I sit at the back of the Church, it is because my husband is there with me, helping to manage our large family. I don’t want to serve at the altar any more than I want to play in the NFL. (The only time women are allowed on the field is to be cheerleaders. Waaah. I feel so second-class. So denied. So less than. Get over yourself and man up.)
At our old Novus Ordo parish being an “altar server” quickly became something the younger boys and girls did. Older boys dropped out, and the parishioners tried to blame it on sports leagues. Only the boys were still attending Mass. They just didn’t want to serve. It had become a girl thing. Quite often the deacon would have to scour the church right before Mass to find someone to fill one of the four positions.
At our EF parish they are able to have eight altar boys at each Mass. It’s a boy thing. They formed a Knights of the Altar group, and I am very impressed with what they are doing to foster vocations and show the boys that the priesthood is not a wimpy, girly life.
Ridiculous. Has anyone seen a woman say the mass? EVER? Thank you. IF a priest drops dead, and an altar boy could step over his inert body and say the mass, you’d have a point. As it is, you don’t. Anyone too dumb not to know the difference between a server and a priest has no business being a priest.
Actually, you raise an interesting point. For decades there have been repeated however isolated instances in which a woman – most commonly an LCWR nun – has “presided” over what would appear to be a Mass, except it never can be because she cannot be a priest.
It is not as uncommon as you think, although certainly it almost never happens at the parish level. It tends to occur at private “masses” at renegade, progressive “catholic communities,” pseudo-Catholic conferences and also within some of the more retrograde religious orders found in the LCWR.
My own sister – when she was a religious sister with the School Sisters of Notre Dame – was pressured to act as con-celebrant at a conference she led by the liberal priest brought in to “preside” over Mass.
As for the rest, it is not about the difference between the priest and altar server which is salient; it is that, as demonstrated above and elsewhere over time, the correlation between serving as altar boys and eventual priesthood is too strong to be ignored. Altar servers are recruited in grade school, and at that age the mere involvement of “altar girls” is enough to cause boys to refuse to participate in anything girls do. We know that changes several years later, but by then the damage to the spiritual formation leading to priestly vocations is done.
you seem rather clueless regards the fact that a communion service is NOT a mass. Any catholic who can follow the rubrics can basically do it if the priest is not there. And frankly, any boy of 12 or above who still thinks girls have “cooties” is probably gay and you don’t want them.
Friend, when I said these women were attempting to officiate at Mass, I meant Mass and NOT a communion service.
You might try taking other commenters at their word. You’re pretty quick to pronounce me as clueless in spite of the fact that I clearly said Mass, by which I meant it included a false consecration.
I didn’t realize you were so clueless to be unaware that an authentic Mass includes the Consecration, and that a communion service does not.
As for young boys preferring not to hang with girls their own age, I was speaking of the typical age for beginning altar servers at 8 years of age. Surely we ALL know that by 12 the hormones kick in. but then again it would seem you are the clueless one on two points now.
Finally, I call you out as a bigot for the fifth you spewed near the end of your last sentence. IF an altar server were to be homosexual I have no problem with his service. Rather, I’d see his altar service as an a continuing opportunity for his spiritual growth and redemption, and would vehemently support him if anyone tried to push him out.
You don’t know me, friend, and if you were a member of my parish I’d be in your face to straighten you out until you manned up to apologize for your arrogant, insulting ignorance.
You’re fortunate we are anonymous to one another – you more than me, since I’ve got the stones to sign my real name – because I guarantee you that while no harm would have come to you in the above scenario, it would be an interaction you’d not appreciate much or soon forget.
I’m afraid that It’s not exactly a well kept secret that much of the agitation for female altar servers has come from advocates and supporters of ordaining women – the thought being that the more that Catholics can be acclimated to seeing women exercising liturgical functions ( especially in vestments), the more open they might become in time to ordaining women, too.
All the girls that I’ve seen as altar girls were encouraged by their parents, and when the girls get to be teenagers they all have had an expression on their face that questions their being there. You can see the answer to the question there, if only more priests were more perceptive.
The heterodox continually used altar girls in opposition to Roman legislation even as they continually petitioned Pope John Paul II to change his mind on the matter. When he finally surrendered to heterodoxy, it was a classic case of operand conditioning – the strongest kind, intermittent – and he, thus conditioned the disobedient to be pertinacious in their petty and/or profound perfidies,
And any legislation after their perfidy was rewarded could only be reasonably assumed to be a complete failure.
And it has ever been thus in the shadow church. The libs and the modernists persist in change until they get it and then the conservative and ultramontanist catholics defend that change with a vengeance.
The shadow church ought to be shunned to the extent that one can shun it and avoid it; stick with the FFSP and other traditional orders in union with local Bishop and Pope and stay out of the way of the collapse of new church
The statement ‘Bishop Coyne states that to discontinue the practice of female servers now would be telling girls that they are “second class citizens” instead of “welcoming them to the table.” is so telling. I serve daily mass when one day the priest told me how appalled he was about some wrong done to a group. I knew that this was a fabricated story by the left leaning media to build support for one of their causes. He had many contacts within this group that was so harmed so I asked him if he knew anyone who had actually experienced that ‘wrong’ against them. He said no. Did any of them know anyone ‘wronged’ in this way the media described and he said no. All of his concerns were based on a news story that it turned out was fabricated and yet this priest believed the story because he had seen it on television.
From the language used by ‘Bishop Coyne’ it is obvious that he has been heavily influenced by the left leaning media that has obviously become a tool of Satan. Likewise it is apparent when so many Bishops today support communion for those living in a persistent and unrepentant state of sin are also being influenced by an ever more diabolical media. Personally I stopped watching broadcast television two years ago. This was because it’s influence on me was one of the main reason I left the Catholic Church 30 years ago. After returning I realized the importance of shutting the influence of the media down.
This is the kind of action most Catholics need to make if we ever want to follow Christ’s command that we be no part of the world.
Bishop Coyne’s defense of the practice is based upon two premises.
1. Citizens of a country have rights. Not to acknowledge and make possible the exercise of these rights makes some members of a polity second-class citizens.
However, Church membership is not based upon the modern secular idea of citizenship. There is no citizenship in the Church to be second class to. We are subjects of our monarch, Christ the King, who reigns for all eternity, and lowly subjects at that.
2. There is a table at which all are welcome, if by all we mean all Catholics and a table at which altar girls might serve (Wouldn’t they be properly called Lord’s Supper Table Girls? An altar, at which you can have altar servers, is not the same thing as a table.)
The question has to be asked, “What table?” Are we talking like “shareholders at the negotiating table”? The premise is undefined. The most likely interpretation is at “The Table of the Lord’s Supper.” This is, however, not the Catholic understanding of the Mass but the condemned for all times interpretation of Thomas Cranmer.
Therefore, Bishop Coyne needs to clarify if we are citizens or subjects and if we in fact have table servers and not altar servers.
I very much appreciate your reasoning. Kudos!
I regret that I have but one vote up to give for this comment.
Upvote for not only referencing Thomas Cranmer but also anathematizing him. Nicely done.
Dear Brian, has CARA (or others) conducted similar research on whether being an altar server has an effect on girls/women entering the consecrated life? Thanks.
I was curious about that as well. I’m guessing no.
Great question. CARA has included that question when surveying religious professing final vows. The 2014 survey reported 16% of female religious had served at the altar. Compare that to 54% who taught faith formation, 48% who were in music ministries and 41% who had volunteered for charitable activities. Numbers for prior years were comparable…usually a bit less. There is no data showing that girls are more likely to discern a religious vocation because of being altar servers. As my article states, and as Rome has consistently affirmed, serving DOES assist young men in their discernment.
Thanks for reading the post and commenting Greg!
And the average age of the average nuns is OLD. i.e. BEFORE they were permitted to serve mass at all. Among the YOUNGER nuns….what’s the percentage?
It all starts with a terminology change – this happened in my church back in the 90s when they changed our group’s name from the “Altar Boys of Sacred Heart Parish” to the “Altar Servers of Sacred Heart Parish.”
From there, it’s always a common story: a church goes from altar boys to altar servers to altar girls to altar random older men to altar nobody.
Besides the ‘Altar Servers’ we even went from ‘Ushers’ to ‘Hospitality Ministers’. They change the terminology exactly like the government does….I hate to say it but ….they do.
And let us not forget EHMCs now being Eucharistic Ministers. Nothing screams reverence like receiving the Eucharist from someone in a leopard print miniskirt.
They are NOT “Eucharistic ministers”. Only a priest can be a Eucharistic minister — period. See Redemptionis Sacramentum 154.
I’ll go you one better. My teenage daughter wanted to be an “EM” at our old parish. Yes, that is how they refer to the EMHCs. It’s either “EM” or “Eucharistic Minister.” My husband and I were against it. We had all the talks with her about this exact fact, that only priests and deacons are Eucharistic Ministers, not to mention the fact that we do not believe women should be serving at the altar. (Rebellious teens. What’s a parent to do?) Of course it didn’t help our case very much that the parish gave out lapel pins as gifts that read, “Eucharistic Minister.” I’m guessing that these were originally designed for Protestant communities.
I wish the USCCB would change their “Guidelines for Altar Servers” to reflect the fact that priests cannot be forced to have female servers and that pastors cannot be forced by bishops to have female altar servers, as noted above. I know of one local pastor who goes by these guidelines even for our monthly homeschool Mass! It’s very frustrating since the USCCB has no authority to issue directives that conflict with what Holy Mother Church says. And it’s disheartening to see Catholic homeschooling families encourage their daughters to serve. It certainly does discourage boys.
The 2001 letter states that women or girl servers “may not, in any way, exclude men or, in particular, boys from service at the altar”. Doesn’t “in any way” mean that whenever a boy is present and willing and able to serve, a girl should not be taking his place?
If the widdle boys aren’t mature enough to serve with girls and they are in that “girls are icky” stage, then have them serve in boy teams and leave the girls to serve in girl’s teams. But frankly, if you’ve got boys over age 13 in that stage still, you’d have to wonder if they are gay — -in which case you shouldn’t be encouraging them to be priests — enough with the pink palace types.
I’m afraid you’ve utterly misread the motivations of young boys who are less motivated to serve at the altar in mixed-sex groups. They don’t think that “girls are icky.” It is isn’t that they “aren’t mature enough.” And it certainly doesn’t imply anything about their sexuality. Boys are naturally drawn to male-only activities and flourish in them. This is a healthy and normal part of growing up, which all societies throughout human history have recognized. Anyone who is serious about the condition of the priesthood needs to accept this reality and respond to it, rather than mocking the motivations of children..
Everyone here should read this if you haven’t already, from a great young priest, Fr. John Hollowell in Indiana:
We aim for civility in our discourse here. You’re rapidly approaching the limits of what I consider reasonable. Please refrain from insinuations and uncharitable conjecture.
Joseph Shaw has been running a series on the effect the feminized culture has on masculinity. http://www.lmschairman.org/ Though the series is not about the male-only altar boys issue, but is more about the feminized culture in the Church today and men leaving the Church altogether, it sheds light on why boys leave altar service in great numbers when serving with girls and the failure of the experiment with female altar servers.
Shaw’s series speaks to how masculinity is not a given but it is achieved. In the past before we became so afraid of offending feminists, this was simply accepted. Boys need activities that are separate from girls in order to leave the feminine world. Being altar servers was one of those places where boys could go where they could be nurtured in a male environment and in the process learn how to become men. Shaw points out that this is alarming to some people. So it is not just that girls are promoted as altar servers because it is somehow a “right” and “excluding” them is not “nice”. There is also an element of discomfort with this male only environment that feminists seek to end. To this way of thinking the masculine culture that exists in any “male-only” group is by its very nature damaging and must be squashed.
Vulgar comments about the sexual proclivities of these boys who benefit from male-only groups do nothing to solve the crisis in vocations in the Church today.
What a ridiculous comment. Boys don’t think girls are icky (I certainly never did at any age; one wonder what kinds of boys do). Men and women are different. This difference translates into action and how the sexes relate to one another. Men do not feel comfortable executing certain duties and obligations in the company of women precisely because respect for women demands a different attitude and behavior that conflicts with the execution of those duties. The same is true of women. There are certain ways in which masculinity can only be developed and formed within the company of other men and men only. Boys, especially, are figuring out this whole masculinity thing and this process can be brutal and inevitably so. Is it just to subject girls to that brutality? Is it just to stifle the development of boys everywhere for the safety of girls? I am not suggesting a total separation. Girls and boys must learn to interact with one another from an early age. But some things require sex segregation. And some things are specific to the perfections, gifts, and form particular to each sex. Like the priesthood.
A man cannot both interact with other men in those kinds of situations and maintain the proper respect and gentlemanliness toward women. The way men deal with one another is too coarse in dealing with women who require a greater gentleness. We see this in the workplace as well. At first, boomer era second wave feminism tried to portray women are having the toughness of men, able to handle themselves in male-dominated company like “one of the guys”. This butch image of women was as hideous as it was comical. And it was, of course, a total lie. For some time, women have been driving a “softening” of the workplace because it turned out to be too rough for women. This comes at an enormous cost to men who are forced into an increasingly feminized and female-dominated environment where their masculinity is stifled and suffocated and even vilified (and I’m not talking about brutish or oafish behavior here). Boys and men are increasingly pushed out from the world as ever greater swathes of social life are feminized. First comes egalitarianism which denies sexual difference, then comes feminization as a way to accommodate women who find male standards of conduct too intimidating. Healthy men instinctively feel protective and softer around women and this interferes with the aggressive demands of the workplace. Egalitarianism forces men and women into a zero sum game that can, at times, become adversarial. What an awful thing that is. The same applies to schools where girls now outperform boys.
So your accusations of homosexuality are exactly wrong. It is precisely in this feminized world that you will see more feminized men and greater numbers of homosexuals through selection because it is they that find the feminized world is congenial and habitable, and the harsher masculine world hostile and uninviting, while men thrive in those environments, seeing in them something that challenges them to become who they are, to give all of themselves.
This radical egalitarianism either feminizes men and leads them to treat men as they would women, or pushes men into being abusive as they treat women in the manner they would treat men. And we aren’t talking about absolute segregation of the sexes, only that we need to respect the fact that there is a need for male-only and female-only activities that rests on sexual differences. Serving at the altar is one of those areas.
Silly. If a boy has a vocation, NOTHING can stop him. Stop blaming the girls for everything wrong with the church. ALL kids should learn to serve the mass so they know it on an intimate basis. Stop trying to keep the girls from learning, and merely shuffling them off to do the ironing. If it’s good for the boys, it’s good for the girls. Vocations started the nose dive in the 70s and 80s, before the girls got involved. Anyone ever think to ask among the younger nuns how many were altar girls? Didn’t think so. Correlation is not causation.
You persist in falsehoods. Vocations to the priesthood were effectively (and intentionally) shut down over three decades following Vatican II resulting from progressives doing all they could to discourage and disqualify solid Catholic men from the priesthood. This was solidly documented in a book called “Goodbye, Good Men.”
Satan deploys plenty of tactics effective at stopping vocations from coming to fruition.
which had a lot more to do with gay, gay, gay, can we say GAY pink palace seminaries than some girl serving mass. Please. Get a grip.
Your ignorance is revealing. Yes, part of the problem was homosexual infiltration and domination of many seminaries, including the Pink Palace (St. Mary’s Seminary) in Baltimore.
You are pretty obsessed with homosexuality, friend. If you actually knew something about what I wrote above there could be a dialogue, but with your gay obsession your mind remains blocked.
Progressives hell-bent on female ordination and married priests were the principal forces behind intentional reduction of authentic straight Catholic men reaching ordination.
I don’t care much if you accept that truth or not. I’ve seen your fearless handle before and I know well the sort of propaganda you post.
As I said above, if you knew me personally I promise you’d never again wish to tell me that my words mean something other than what I actually wrote.
Do you seriously think the only thing women are doing in the Church is ironing? Well then you would have to be a blooming idiot. Women are running the RCIA programs and the faith formation programs and the outreach ministries. The food banks, pro-life ministries, orphanages, hospitals, and schools. Women are canon lawyers, parish business managers, and music directors. Women are very represented within the bureaucracy of the Church. The one thing women aren’t is priests. Now I’m very sure that Jesus could have called women to be priests, if He wanted to. But He didn’t. He understood the role of a man and the role of a woman. Sorry if His plan doesn’t conform to your modernist viewpoint.
get a grip, idiot. I was not arguing for women priests. Just slamming those people who think that women don’t belong doing any of the things you mentioned.
I’m glad you openly used the word “idiot” – not that I agree with you about Jude. I don’t.
I mean that In the future I shall not be as restrained with you as I have been so far.
“Vocations started the nose dive in the 70s and 80s, before the girls got involved.”
Actually, quite a number number of parishes in North America and Western Europe began resorting to female altar servers as early as the 70’s, in violation of Church discipline. John Paul II was prevailed upon to change it in large part because the rule was being flouted on a large scale.
But I concede the point that there were also other reasons for the collapse in vocations, which began in earnest in the 60’s. Therein lies a depressing tale for another day.
This question is the litmus test for every sodomite, homophile, Marxist, or new-ager in the church: Is the idea of women priests spawned from the very depths of hell itself? If the answer is anything but an ecstatic “YES!”, then you’re dealing with one of the reasons why Heaven, on the eve of the Traditional Feast of Our Lady of Lasallette, is going to literally level every mountain and fill every valley soon. Ipso facto, anything that remotely implies or suggests such things is essentially demonic. SALVE REGINA, MATER MISERICORDIA, ORA PRO NOBIS! VIVO CHRISTO REY!!!
On the night Our Lord instituted the priesthood, only the apostles were in the room with Him. Our Lady who was sinless surely could have been, but was not. This should be the first clue that only men are to be the Alter Christus (or serve at the altar). Womanhood was raised to a very high level when God chose a woman to be His mother. Someone who for all eternity He will obey and love because of His great love for her. Men have their roles and women have theirs.
There’s nothing at all wrong with “random older men” serving at the altar. It’s one of the most manly things you can do.
Today five sons
Served on the altar
Who would not falter.
Boys at home
Who fight and shove
But on the altar
Assist with love.
At home shouting
From top of lung
On the altar
At home running
Can’t sit still
On the altar
At home throwing
On the altar
At home bedrooms
On the altar
I proud mother
Faithful to Rome
Five sons on the altar
Five men at home.
Brought tears to my eyes. Accurate rhyme on sons from an authentic and faithful Catholic family.
I’ve told this story at Father Z’s blog, and I’ll tell it again here.
In 1976 I was an alter server at a church in Marietta Georgia and my sister was a server too. My sister is a girl. That was during the papacy of Paul VI.
During the time since, it seems there have always been female alter servers. I don’t notice their sex, but I would be surprised if any church I have attended had an all male server corps. My sister and I are still Catholic. She is now 50 and has volunteers for years in religious ed. I have been a lector for many years. Before mass the lectors meet with the priest and the alter severs in the sacristy. Both girls and boys are always polite and well behaved and I have yet to see any reason to prefer an all male corps.
Years later (the past few years) people on internet have decided we would be better off without girl alter servers – and further, that having girls server is heterodox. And even further, that Pope John Paul II has a stain on his legacy because girls started serving during his papacy (even though I know from personal experience it started before JPII took over.)
I will never understand the energy some people have about this issue or the rewriting of history that some want to do. The large majority of Catholics were not born when there was an all male server corps. This issue is not on the radar screen of Catholics, except for a few who contribute to internet comboxes.
And even further, that Pope John Paul II has a stain on his legacy because girls started serving during his papacy (even though I know from personal experience it started before JPII took over.
At the end of the day, however, John Paul II reversed course on this – and officially authorized the use of female altar servers. The abuse of employing them may have begun under Paul VI, but John Paul II must take the responsibility for making it a law of the Church – which had the effect, by the way, of accelerating and expanding their use around the world.
What’s worse is that, like the previous law, even John Paul II’s law is being widely disobeyed. The law states that “the obligation to support groups of altar boys will always remain…” due, of course, to the relationship between service at the altar and future vocations. Note that: groups of altar boys, not individuals. This means there is an obligation to support all-male server crews in every parish, at least for certain Masses. But, as William Oddie asks, “Has there been any such support for “groups of altar boys?” In many places, there has not been; indeed, I know of parishes with no altar boys at all – all the servers are girls.
Well researched and well written, Brian. Many knew where the introduction of girl altar servers were leading us when it was instigated and subtly insisted years ago. My sons immediately removed themselves from the altar. It was so very predictable.
There is something that I noticed in the decade of altar girls, they girls came to understand the value of the priesthood. Among themselves they discussed this and how they would be happy to have a son who became a priest. Also girls are by nature better servers and raised the level of of server competence. BUT this was in a Diocese that had only 1 way all servers were trained and had a summer picnic for all the servers.
Another example of the stench of feminism eroding away Holy Mother church. I refuse to attend a feminized catholic church. If women ever became priests i would have nothing to do with Catholicism AT ALL.