Above: Papal plane – April 3, 2022: Pope Francis holds a press conference during flight back to Rome from Malta. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis? A sexual revolutionary? Surely not?
We know he’s not good but isn’t that going a bit far?
Well, judge for yourselves.
A very revolutionary change, sneaked in by Pope Francis during the Covid-19 lockdown, was his Apostolic Letter Spiritus Domini of 10 January 2021, universally changing canon law for the whole Church regarding the so-called “lay institutes” of Acolyte and Lector that Paul VI first introduced (in his Ministeria quaedam of January 1973) to replace “First Tonsure,” the minor clerical Orders of Porter, Lector, Exorcist and Acolyte and the major Order of Sub-deacon.
The lay institutes were just that – “lay” and not clerical.
For the first time, ancillary service at the altar, one of the principal tasks of the clergy, was to be handed over to the laity and the minor Orders sidelined, if not, indeed, abolished.
That immediately raised questions in the minds of many.
For example, if the roles of acolyte and lector were now open to the laity, did that also mean they were now to be open to women?
Oh, no, no, no, said numerous Curial officials, at the time, rapidly attempting to re-assure traditionalists who feared that the change was a very serious break with Catholic tradition (which, of course, it was!).
No, no, that could never happen. The Pope would not allow it.
And so it was… at least up until the pontificate of Pope Francis.
But it did not need a divinely-inspired prophet to be able to tell that, once service at the altar was opened up to the laity, that soon enough “Catholic” Feminists would be clamouring to fulfil the roles. And using all the manipulation, devious wiles, dishonest tricks and emotional blackmail for which Feminists are famous, they commenced a classic Marxist-style campaign and “long march” through the institutions in order to get their way until, obligingly, the right pope came along and capitulated to their shrill and self-worshipping demands.
Pope Paul VI had made it law that only men could serve in the lay institutes but only a naïve self-deluder like Pope Paul VI could have imagined that, once he opened up service at the altar to the laity, that he could keep women out permanently from these new lay roles.
It began soon enough with the so-called “extraordinary ministers” of Holy Communion, who sprang up everywhere with the regularity of mushrooms after summer rain and most of them were women. Seeing a gap through which they could rush to begin to unravel the special vocation of clergy to serve at the altar, many women, bent upon revolutionising the Church, chose to exploit the situation.
In no time women were everywhere and have since come to dominate in churches where the Novus Ordo mass – the Pauline-Bugninian rite of Pope Paul VI and the late, unlamented Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the principal agent of the liturgical revolution of the 1970s – predominates.
But it was not until the pontificate of Pope Francis that their revolutionary efforts paid off. Here is a pope ready to go along with any revolutionary change that might overturn the traditions of the Catholic Church.
Cleverly, he did so during the world-wide pre-occupation with Covid-19 and the near-universal lockdown that shut down half the world for some 2 years.
So it was that most people did not notice this deeply revolutionary piece of legislation passed by Pope Francis – done by motu proprio, of his own motion.
And those that did notice were mostly liberal Modernists and heterodox Catholics who were, of course, delighted at this revolutionary change instigated by, of all people, the Pope.
Most traditionalists and orthodox Catholic did not notice or, if they did, failed to see the revolutionary significance of the legislation.
It is short but sharp and the key passage is this:
…a doctrinal development has taken place in recent years which has highlighted how certain ministries instituted by the Church are based on the common condition of being baptised and the royal priesthood received in the Sacrament of Baptism; they are essentially distinct from the ordained ministry received in the Sacrament of Orders. A consolidated practice in the Latin Church has also confirmed, in fact, that these lay ministries, since they are based on the Sacrament of Baptism, may be entrusted to all suitable faithful, whether male or female, in accordance with what is already implicitly provided for by Canon 230 § 2.
Consequently, after having heard the opinion of the competent Dicasteries, I have decided to modify canon 230 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law. I therefore decree that Canon 230 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law shall in future have the following formulation:
‘Lay persons who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte. Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.’
Pope Francis goes so far as to claim that he is implementing a “doctrinal development” and yet no doctrinal development can ever contradict the teaching of the past, or the perennial practice of the past, least of all on an issue so central as service at the altar.
Far from being a “doctrinal development,” this latest rupture authorised by Pope Francis is a serious blasphemy.
Apparently, Pope Francis thinks that his own eccentric wishes are now to be called a “doctrinal development.” Once again, he uses the singular “I” and not the traditional pontifical “we” and the result is that the change looks like nothing more than giving way to the spirit of the age against the whole weight of Catholic tradition.
It would be farcical if it were not so tragic.
As St John Henry Newman taught in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, a doctrinal development is inauthentic and no development if it fails to preserve what went before, in continuity of principles and in conservative of the past.
Thus, the parties in controversy join issue on the common ground, that a developed doctrine which reverses the course of development which has preceded it, is no true development but a corruption.
This, then, is no “doctrinal development” but rather an outright corruption.
Moreover, there is not now, nor ever has been, any “consolidated practice in the Latin Church” which has gone anywhere near confirming that “these lay ministries… may be entrusted to all suitable faithful, whether male or female.”
On the contrary, because the practice was contrary to canon law it could only have been an illegal practice, not a “consolidation.”
Accordingly, the Pope is simply lying and doing so very blatantly, shamefully and shockingly, acting, it must be said, like a veritable antipope.
Few realised just how great a rupture it was and why it was so significant in the great battles over sex and gender that have been plaguing our times.
Why so significant?
For a number of reasons.
But the starting point is that all previous popes have rejected women serving at the altar and many have, for centuries, condemned the practice as “evil.”
Therefore, to reverse the discipline thereon is a very seriously evil corruption.
Indeed, it is “evil” according to the diachronic teaching and discipline of previous popes right back to Pope St Gelasius I the Great, in the 5th century, and beyond.
The present pope has thus legislated in favour of what his predecessors unambiguously called “evil.”
I might add, in passing, that this also explodes the theory, held by some, including some “trads,” citing Auctorem Fidei #78 of Pope Pius VI (condemning the Jansenist heresy) among other documents, that the universal disciplinary decrees of the Church enjoy a kind of “infallibility” and can never be harmful or noxious to the Church.
Well, sorry to say, but that is precisely what Spiritus Domini is and does.
Some have claimed that Pope John Paul II changed the law to give permission for girl altar servers but that is not correct.
What was approved by him is set out in the Acta Apostolica Sedes of 7 January 1994, page 541, and reads as follows (translated by me from the Latin)
Doubt: Whether, according to the CIC Can. 230, § 2, service at the altar can be among the liturgical functions which the laity, whether men or women, may carry out.
Response: In the affirmative and according to the instructions given by the Apostolic See.
This says virtually nothing other than “follow canon law” and canon law, at that time, stipulated that only viri probati – “proven men” – could exercise the lay institutes and anything else was a mere “temporary appointment” (ex temporanea deputatione) in purely exceptional circumstances.
An appended letter to bishops from the then Prefect of the Congregation, Antonio, Cardinal Javierre Ortas, reminded bishops that any use of girl altar servers is only a “temporary appointment” and that boy altar servers is the norm.
In fact, for reasons of profoundly theological sexual iconography, women were strictly forbidden to fulfil these clerical roles save exceptionally (e.g. in an all-female setting like a convent when it was permitted provided such was done outside the Sanctuary).
It was forbidden to have women serving near the altar within the “sacred chancel” (infra cancellos), that is, they were prohibited from entering the Sanctuary behind the altar rails during the liturgy (even nuns).
The Sanctuary has been likened to the womb wherein divine life is confected and thus it is only appropriate for the male, paternal figure of the priest or clergy to enter therein during the liturgy, like a husband approaching his wife.
The iconography of the church, nave, sanctuary and altar is rich in theological meaning and has been from the time of the Old Testament. To interfere with that is not merely to make a few cosmetic changes but to overthrow the whole imagery and meaning of the liturgy and liturgical space, including its sexual meaning.
This is not, of course, to say that women could not enter the chancel outside the times of liturgical action e.g. to clean the Sanctuary. Similarly, a female gynaecologist can examine the womb of a woman for medical reasons without any suggestion of perversion.
What we are speaking of is entry during the sacred action of the liturgy when the Body of Christ is confected in the Sanctuary just as it was in the womb of the Blessed Virgin.
For this reason, women were forbidden entry to the Sanctuary during such times.
In his encyclical Allatae sunt of 26 July 1775, Pope Benedict XIV renewed the earlier prohibition, saying:
Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry.
which prohibition was originally stated more than five centuries earlier by Pope Innocent IV in his letter Sub catholicae professione of 6 March 1254, written to Odo of Tusculum, Cardinal-Bishop of Frascati, opposing this abuse which had crept into some Greek rites. Pope Innocent wrote:
Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry. We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft-repeated constitution Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 6, no. 21.
Pope Benedict XIV called it the:
evil practice of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass
which had been condemned centuries before by Pope Gelasius I (492−496), the great pope of the liturgy.
Pope Gelasius in his ninth letter (chapter 26) to the bishops of Lucania condemned the “evil practice,” which had, in some places, been introduced, of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass.
The 1970 instruction Liturgicae instaurationes, on putting the Council’s decree into effect, reaffirmed reserving service of the celebrant at the altar to males alone.
This was repeated more briefly in the 1980 instruction Inaestimabile donum which said:
Women are not, however, permitted to act as altar servers.
Moreover, at the time of the 1970 and 1980 instructions, the 1917 Code of Canon Law was still in force and it had legislated that:
A woman is not to be the server at Mass except when a man is unavailable and for a just reason and provided that she give the responses from a distance and in no way approaches the altar.
i.e. remains outside the Sanctuary or chancel.
But now Pope Francis, in January 2021, has taken the very seriously evil step of changing the law to allow women permanently to serve in the lay institutes at the altar and not merely exceptionally.
It is no coincidence that this change has occurred at a time of great confusion between the sexes and over the role of sexual differentiation.
It represents not only a capitulation to the transgender ideology that is now becoming widespread, but it actually adds significantly thereto by, in effect, giving it a theologically approving nod and that from, of all people, the Supreme Pontiff.
Once again, this present Pope has laid an axe to the root of sexual differentiation, of the reason why God made us “male and female,” of what makes us man and woman and a human person made in the image and likeness of God Himself.
This Apostolic Letter gives a significant boost to sexual confusion and, worse still, at the altar.
Women at the altar is, in reality, a type of spiritual lesbianism and dressing women in ecclesiastical vestments is a form of spiritual transvestitism.
Since it is occurring in the Sanctuary, and by the altar, this is – spiritually – a victory for sexual confusion by Satan.
And yet few people realise it.
Is it surprising, then, that transgenderism is making such bold public strides in our time?
Upon being told about, or observing women serving at the altar, the reaction is often “oh well, what does it matter? It’s just a couple of girls serving Mass” or “Hey! Stopping girls from serving is sexist” demonstrating a woeful failure to understand the theology and sexual iconography of the liturgy and the Mass and the important, but very different, role of the sexes therein.
As I said the Sanctuary is likened to the womb of the Blessed Virgin, pure and holy and the place wherein divine life – the Body of Christ – is confected, just as He was begotten in the womb of the Virgin.
Now the womb of one woman is most certainly no place for another women to be present during the begetting of human life.
Likewise, the Sanctuary, or Holy Place, during the confection of divine life and the Body of Christ, is no place for a woman.
For a woman to be present in the holy place which is the womb when life is begotten – or meant to be begotten – is a perversion. One woman cannot naturally beget a child with another woman. A child can only be naturally begotten by a man and a woman.
So, too, when women pretend to be priests, to enter the Sanctuary, the Holy Place comparable to the womb of the Virgin, dressed as men in ecclesiastical vestments, and try to confect the Blessed Sacrament, nothing, in fact, is confected.
Thus, for women to enter the Sanctuary, the Holy Place comparable to the womb of the Virgin, dressed as men, and to try to confect the Blessed Sacrament, is a form of spiritual lesbianism and a grave blasphemy against God.
For them to enter the Holy of Holies, the Tabernacle, is an ever graver blasphemy.
In the Old Testament, it was likewise and even more strictly observed.
Only priests could enter the Holy Place and only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies wherein was found the Ark of the Covenant, over-shadowed by the Shekinah, or cloud of glory indicating the presence of God.
Now we, as Catholics, know that the Ark of the Covenant is a symbol of the Blessed Virgin hence, in the Litany of Loreto, she is called “the Ark of the Covenant.”
Leviticus 16 specifies the rules which must be obeyed on pain of death. Leviticus 16.1-15 stipulated what had to be done.
And this was to be done on the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur – as Leviticus 16.29-30 explains.
And only upon that day, once a year, as Leviticus 16.34 makes clear.
There is a mystical Jewish tradition that the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies with a rope tied to his foot. The purpose of the rope, according to the tradition, was to retrieve the high priest’s body in case he died in the course of his duties within the Holy of Holies since no-one but the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and then only on Yom Kippur.
Leviticus could scarcely be plainer that not only the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place were only for the male priesthood but that even the men’s court in the Temple was not to be entered by women.
This sexual and sacerdotal iconography represented thereby was not mere sexism or the belittling of women but, on the contrary, a profoundly theological recognition of the differences between the sexes, between their roles and of the equal importance of their respective roles.
The Holy Place can only be entered by the male figure of the priest and his role is a paternal one. Just as only the husband and father may approach the wife and mother so as to beget a child, so only the paternal figure of the priest may enter the Holy Place, akin to the womb of the Virgin Mary, to confect the divine life through the Holy Sacrifice.
Even the structure of the church has a sexual iconography. The Sanctuary represents the head, Christ, just as, in marriage, the husband represents the head of the family, and the nave represents the body, just as the wife represents the body (and heart) of the family, each sex being vital to God’s plan whereby he unites Himself to the Blessed Virgin, as daughter to God the Father, spouse to God the Holy Ghost and mother to God the Son.
When Scripture says: “And God created man to his own image: to the image of God He created him: male and female He created them” [Gen 1.27], this was no idle passing remark but a statement about the nature of the two sexes and their profound reflection of the image of God.
The complementarity of the sexes, but in differing roles, is a profoundly central part of God’s plan, both from the beginning, before the Fall, and after, in his plan of Redemption, in both of which plans He gives the highest role among mortals to His Virgin Mother, whom many call the Co-Redemptrix, and a model for all women.
The sexual differentiation between men and women is not some random freak of biological evolution but a creation ordinance of God and a reflection of God Himself just as the male imagery of God is no accident but as vital to His plan as is the female imagery of the Blessed Virgin.
And so the role of a priest in both the Old and the New Testaments is a paternal role, reflecting God the Father, just as the role of a mother is a maternal role reflecting the Blessed Virgin and the other half of God’s plan.
Thus, in God’s plan and its sexual iconography, the idea of a female priest is as ludicrous and absurd as a male mother or a naturally pregnant man giving birth naturally to a child.
Likewise, any attempt to give a role to women within the Sanctuary, the Holy Place that is like the womb of the Virgin Mary, is a perversion and a blasphemy and thus, as former popes described it, “evil.”
Any attempt to mix or confuse the roles is thus not only a perversion against the Natural law but, in the context of the Sanctuary and the liturgy, a blasphemy.
And yet Pope Francis has now done so in Spiritus Domini.
This is not just yet another attempt by this pope to rupture Catholic tradition but something far worse: it is a shocking blasphemy and one made all the more so in that it is authorised by the Supreme Pontiff himself in flat defiance of his predecessors, of Catholic tradition and, above all, of God.
Moreover, it further shows the extent to which the perversion of liturgy in most parishes, and the blasphemous entry of women into the Holy Place, has destroyed the theological understanding by the faithful of liturgy, public prayer and the worship of God and has led to a complete loss of the sacred.
This is exactly what happened at the Protestant Reformation. People started using the altar, now placed in the middle of the nave, to lay their hats on and chatted away in church as if they were at a public meeting or in a pub.
Unsurprisingly, then, Catholic worship in many parishes has become little more than a public meeting or, at best, a neo-Protestant hymn sandwich.
The Sacrifice of the Mass and the bloodless re-enactment of Calvary is, in most parishes, no more in the minds of most people attending Mass.
They are no longer “the faithful” but are now merely “congregants” (another ghastly American neologism) as if they were merely “congregating” at a public meeting, not the faithful participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where the Body of Christ is confected in the Holy Place, the Sanctuary, by the paternal, male figure of the priest, acting in persona Christi, and thereafter fed to the faithful, the remainder being later returned to the Holy of Holies, the Tabernacle to be worshipped and adored.
And if it is just a “congregation” of people at a public meeting, or a hymn sandwich, what does it matter who serves alongside the “president” of the assembly? Why not women or, indeed, children or anyone?
The true understanding of the liturgy, the Mass and the worship and adoration of God are then wholly and completely lost and replaced by confusion, perversion, blasphemy, and, in addition, spiritual lesbianism and transvestitism.
And now this utter travesty has been given the sanction and approval of the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis.
There could hardly be a more serious corruption.
Editor’s note: for more on the topic of sexual difference and the liturgy, see Peter’s Kwasniewski’s book Ministers of Christ:
 Newman, St John Henry, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (London: Longman, Green & Co, 1909), Part 2, chs. 5, 6 and 7.
 Ibid., Part 2, ch. 5, Section 4, para 4.
 “And the Lord spoke to Moses, after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they were slain upon their offering strange fire: And he commanded him, saying, speak to Aaron thy brother, that he enter not at all into the sanctuary, which is within the veil before the propitiatory, with which the ark is covered, lest he die, (for I shall appear in a cloud over the oracle) Unless he first do these things: He shall offer a calf for sin, and a ram for a holocaust. He shall be vested with a linen tunick, he shall cover his nakedness with linen breeches: he shall be girded with a linen girdle, and he shall put a linen mitre upon his head: for these are holy vestments: all which he shall put on, after he is washed. And he shall receive from the whole multitude of the children of Israel two buck goats for sin, and one ram for a holocaust.”
And Leviticus 16.11:
“After these things are duly celebrated, he shall offer the calf, and praying for himself and for his own house, he shall immolate it: And taking the censer, which he hath filled with the burning coals of the altar, and taking up with his hand the compounded perfume for incense, he shall go in within the veil into the holy place: That when the perfumes are put upon the fire, the cloud and vapour thereof may cover the oracle, which is over the testimony, and he may not die. He shall take also of the blood of the calf, and sprinkle with his finger seven times towards the propitiatory to the east. And when he hath killed the buck goat for the sin of the people, he shall carry in the blood thereof within the veil, as he was commanded to do with the blood of the calf, that he may sprinkle it over against the oracle…”
 “And this shall be to you an everlasting ordinance: The seventh month, the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and shall do no work, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you. Upon this day shall be the expiation for you, and the cleansing from all your sins: you shall be cleansed before the Lord.”
James Bogle is a barrister (trial attorney) in practice in Britain for 30 years in constitutional, public and commercial law, a former British cavalry officer, and a writer and historian. He is also a Knight of Malta and was President of the International Una Voce Federation promoting the traditional Roman rite from 2013-2015.