Kerfuffle! Wisconsin parish nixes altar girls – predictable outrage ensues before sanity prevails

This story from the Capital Times of Madison, WI came to my attention through the intermediary of a kind reader.  My emphases and comments:

Mazomanie church nixes altar girls

Pat Schneider  —  6/25/2008 5:07 pm

Members of St. Barnabas Parish in Mazomanie say they are stunned to learn that the priests leading their Catholic community will no longer allow their daughters to be servers at Mass. From now on, only boys will be able to assist priests in the ancient religious rite.  [Do you catch a tone of outrage yet?]

The new policy was announced at a meeting with parents Tuesday by Rev. John Del Priore, who was assigned to the parish on June 1[Wow.  He moved quickly!]

"It’s an outrage," said Tammy Parks[As I mentioned, "outrage", which I wrote above before I even read this line.  Heh heh.] "They said it was a good way for boys to be indoctrinated  [HAH!] into being a priest."

After letting her 11-year-old daughter know that she would no longer be allowed on the altar, Del Priore asked her 8-year-old son about his interest in becoming an altar boy, Parks said in an interview.

"Not only is the priest discriminating against my daughter, he’s teaching my son that that is appropriate behavior," she said.  [I see.  For Tammy this is about social engineering.  Tammy doesn’t understand that no lay person has any RIGHT to server in the sanctuary.  No one is being discriminated against.  It is possible there could have been more tact, but let’s not forget the facts and underlying issues.  Service at the altar is not a right.  No priest can be forced to have altar girls or women serving.  The custom of service by boys and men is to be given first priority and fostered.]

Parents at St. Barnabas are so distressed that there is talk of having the boys boycott altar duty.  ["Having the boys boycott".  That means instrumentalizing the boys for political purposes.  Nice parenting.]

The Catholic Church broke with centuries of tradition in 1994, when the Vatican said girls would be allowed to join "altar boys" in assisting priests at Mass.

It is up to the local bishop to decide whether to allow lay women, or girls, to serve when needed, said Brent King, director of communications for the Madison Diocese. Female servers have been allowed in the Madison Diocese, King said, but it is ultimately up to each individual priest to decide whether he needs help at the altar. Priests may ask whomever they wish to assist them, so long as that person is a Catholic in good standing, King said.  [You know, I am liking this Bishop Morlino more and more and more.]

He stressed that servers take on the duties of acolytes, traditionally a low clerical rank.

"Neither lay women nor lay men have the right to carry out the function of acolyte," King said.  [I like this guy.  He gets it.  I hope he has been reading WDTPRS!  o{];¬)  ]

Altar service is being reserved for boys to promote vocations to the priesthood, Rev. Jared Hood, one of a group of priests that serves the St. Barnabas cluster, said in an interview. Hood said he is a member of the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, a religious order that ministers to boys to inspire them to become priests. The order offered its services to the Madison Diocese, which is consolidating parishes because of a shortage of priests.

"Very many priests began as altar boys," Hood said. "Without contact with a priest it’s difficult for boys to even think about a vocation as a priest." He first learned about the order of which he is now a member as an altar boy in New Jersey, he said.

Four priests from the order now oversee a cluster of five parishes: St. Barnabas, St. Aloysius in Sauk City, St. Norbert in Roxbury, St. John the Baptist in Mill Creek, and St. Mary in Merrimac. Hood said boys only will be servers for each of the parishes.

That’s been the case at St. Aloysius for more than a year, and the furor that met the change in policy has evaporated, said Ann Cicero, a secretary for the parish whose sons serve as altar boys.  [Of course.  Fluctus in simpulo!]

The commitment by parish boys to altar service is proof that it’s right to reserve it for boys, she said. When girls were allowed to be servers, it became less popular among boys. Now that it’s a thing for boys only, they revel in it[Of course!]

Besides, having girls on the altar is misleading about what the church is about, she said.

"Women are not ordained," Cicero said.

The boys meet weekly with priests for training, spiritual growth and outings as the group, St. Michael Altar Guild, a practice that strengthens their ties to the church and parish community, she said. Girls, too, meet regularly and do things "more appropriate for girls."

Cicero said several young boys have begun to talk about vocations to the priesthood.  [Of course!  They may not ultimately choose that direction, but at least they will have considered it!]

Jim Schmitt of Mazomanie said that for his 11-year-old daughter, being an altar girl was a way to give back to the church[There are other ways.]

Today a Madison firefighter, Schmitt said he was an altar boy at Queen of Peace parish in Madison. He took pride in that role, but never thought of it as preparation for a vocation as a priest. It was a tradition, though. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all had served as altar boys.  [Fair enough.]

"If someone has a vocation, how does serving with a girl interfere with that?" Schmitt asked. "I don’t see why we’re regressing."  [Partly because of the way boys develop and what their needs are.]

Parks, [remember Tammy from above?] an attorney, [Yah… that’s about right.]  said discrimination is significant issue for her personally.

"To have it in my own by parish, by my own priest, is repugnant," she said. 

 

I think Tammy should be the recipient of the special WDTPRS Sour Grapes Award for putting the worst possible spin on what has happened, having imposed exactly the wrong criteria on the Church’s worship and our active participation.

The Sour Grapes Award

At the same time, huge WDTPRS kudos, with gold star, to the priests in those parishes.

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145 Responses to Kerfuffle! Wisconsin parish nixes altar girls – predictable outrage ensues before sanity prevails

  1. At my former parish, the former priest had 184 altar boys. New priest arrives. Initiates an altar girl. The boys ceased coming. The experience was sad.

  2. And may this be repeated in parish after parish after parish after parish…

    Cheers!

  3. patrick f says:

    This is a good thing. We need more Bishops with Backbones. It could be the latest movement in church. I dont know the latin but I bet it would sound cool

    It is right to state that this confuses people, As I have stated before…. what do servers TRADITIONALLY wear. A Cassock and Surplice. Those are MALE clothes. Not female clothes. Men who join religious orders arent wearing veils any time soon. I just dont get it. I was a server when this decree happened, and it did take away from it a bit. It isnt viewed as a priviledge anymore…anyone can do it. Lets all go up on the altar seems to be the mentality. You will notice too the steady decline that has occured. Servers dont even dress appropriately either males (or females), because it isnt a priviledge. So you see jeans and tennis shoes coming our from under the cassocks. When you have things like that, its no wonder people have lots concept of appropriate liturgical respect. It makes it a free for all

    Bring back the liturgical norms, not have ever tom dick and charlene on the altar, and you will see a stronger church

  4. Trevor says:

    I’d like to see Lawyer Tammy’s certifications in Canon Law…

  5. Patrick Rothwell says:

    Of course, if it is a small parish and the parents effectively pull their boys from the altar server corps, then the priest is worse off than he was before, if his aim is to use the altar server corps as a source for future vocations. It might have been smarter to -err- grandfather the currently serving altar girls in, but prohibit new altar girls for the future.

  6. Geoffrey says:

    What a great time to be a Catholic! Fascinating! “Brick-by-Brick”! :-)

  7. RBrown says:

    Jim Schmitt of Mazomanie said that for his 11-year-old daughter, being an altar girl was a way to give back to the church. [There are other ways.]

    Today a Madison firefighter, Schmitt said he was an altar boy at Queen of Peace parish in Madison. He took pride in that role, but never thought of it as preparation for a vocation as a priest. It was a tradition, though. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all had served as altar boys. [Fair enough.]

    “If someone has a vocation, how does serving with a girl interfere with that?” Schmitt asked. “I don’t see why we’re regressing.” [Partly because of the way boys develop and what their needs are.].

    I think the reference to regression is an indication that, despite Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, a lot of people still think that in the future there will be women priests. And for the moment having altar girls is the best we can do while we all await true enlightenment.

  8. Mark says:

    A lot of little changes are adding up… I’m starting to believe in your ‘brick by brick’ mantra. :-)

  9. Brian Walden says:

    I agree with the decision and would like to see every parish choose to use only altar boys except for exceptional situations where for some reason there aren\’t enough boys to serve.

    At the same time, maybe they could have sold it better. Maybe if they allowed current altar girls to serve out the rest of the liturgical year it would have gone over better. Then again maybe that would have just told people that they\’ve got 5 months to protest and get the decision overturned.

    Shame on the parents who want to manipulate their boys to protest. First of all they should never use the Mass as a protest and, second, its disgusting that they\’re using their boys as their pawns.

  10. JC says:

    “Of course, if it is a small parish and the parents effectively pull their boys from the altar server corps, then the priest is worse off than he was before, if his aim is to use the altar server corps as a source for future vocations. It might have been smarter to err grandfather the currently serving altar girls in, but prohibit new altar girls for the future.”

    I beg to disagree. Although it is not the preferred solution by far, I think that the Ordinary Rite allows for a priest to “serve himself”, without much trouble. I have even see conservative liturgists (Opus Dei) celebrating without a server, painstakingly following the rubrics and classic expressions (v.g.: a priest performing the ablutions with his index and thumb still together after communion, wow!).

    People will have to learn to comply.

    If good ole Tammy doesn’t like it, I’m sure Katherine Jefferts Schori would like to have female attendants to her “episcopal” throne, he he.

    JC

    Sancti Iosephmariae Escriva, Ora Pro Nobis.

  11. Trevor says:

    Fr. Z,

    You have to read the comments left by the posters at the original website:

    “brown eyes says:

    You must understand that this is the conservative ‘old world’ Catholic Church and it is stemming from Bishop Morlino! I have never heard of the priests mentioned in this article. They are not our ‘regular’ diocesan priests. I believe they have been placed here by the Bishop.

    The mentality of ranking women and girls so low as to not be included as altar servers is shocking. We pray for vocations to the priesthood during Adoration. Prayers and gentle guidance of our sons in the direction that the Lord would like them to go. That does not mean we should exclude girls, as they may feel a calling, a vocation, too. Recruiting in this manor by excluding females at the altar is not the Catholic Church that I have known. This is stemming from Bishop Morlino and coming from the Vatican where conservative Bishops are placed in more liberal dioceses. Watch out….the return of the Latin Mass is right around the corner!”
    …..

    Yup. Buckle up…the Springtime is getting cold.

  12. magdalen says:

    Our parish has almost all girls at the altar and all women as EMHCs.
    My confessor, a retried priest, when he has the Holy Mass has things a certain and proper way and one parish in our valley has the servers boycott his Mass: they do not show up because they have a different idea there how Mass should be served there and the lady who runs the show is mad at Father.

    Yes, when it is reinstated for altar BOYS, the numbers will grow. What young man wants to be paired with a 9 year old girl?

  13. Larry says:

    Fr. Z, I think there should be more kudos. The people interviewed from the other parishes demonstrated that they have learned and adjusted well to the “tradional” role for boys alone as altar servers. The reporter also deserves some credit for exploring the entire issue from various points of view. “Fair and Balanced” journalism is seldom encountered these days and accuracy in rporting has gone the way dinousaur. This reporter deserves some real credit. While we are at it I do hope that the good priests in these parishes will help develop programs that demonstrate to girls that the Church really does love them and has need of their willingness to serve the Church even if not at the altar.

  14. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Love your comments Father!
    Hooray for Rev. John Del Priore and Bishop Morlino!!!!

    For years, the Arlington Diocese did not allow altar girls under our former Bishop Keating [RIP]. Our present bishop Loverde allows the practice but at the discretion of the pastor. So, several parishes here do not allow altar girls and I really appreciate being able to attend these parishes without that silly distraction. Its true here too that where girls are allowed, the boys have scattered, no longer interested in that “girls club”.

    Isn’t it true that “once a man finds out a woman will do a job, he will dump it on her for good”. This is demonstrated by all the woman in parishes doing the jobs that men used to do, oh and in the corporate world, and at home too. [apologies to all you good men out there] Sheesh! there are so many things that women can do, why do we want to add men’s jobs to our load?

    Those of St. Barnabas Parish who are used to altar girls are confused. But after years of poor catechesis, allowances of unhistorical practices and just bad information, I understand their indignation. Let’s hope all come to understand why “males on the altar” is the best for everyone.

    Now that I think about it, will we get their Moms out of the Sanctuary who do readings, distribute Holy Communion or cantor? Is this is the right example for young girls? As a woman, these practices make me uncomfortable because I remember a time when women were not allowed in the Sanctuary. All this is very difficult to avoid in our parishes and continues to add to the confusion! I know, I know, one thing at a time.

  15. What was JPII thinking when he allowed for this situation to occur? I remember my shook when attending the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral in Piana degli Albanese, Scilia, and seeing an altar girl in Sticharion peeking out from the Royal Doors. Lord have mercy.

  16. Chironomo says:

    “Brown Eyes” was quoted as saying:

    “This is stemming from Bishop Morlino and coming from the Vatican where conservative Bishops are placed in more liberal dioceses. Watch out….the return of the Latin Mass is right around the corner!”

    Umm… I think we have TURNED that corner already. Perhaps being well informed isn’t a part of being enlightened.

  17. GD says:

    Mixed emotions about this. I live in Fr. Hood’s diocese & I can attest that these priests are very holy men & effective in their pastoral role. They’ve been a tremendous blessing! But I was raised with the belief that everyone in a parish–young AND older, male & female–is obligated to give service. I’d be curious to know what “other ways” girls are being encouraged to offer service & grow spiritually in these parishes, if not by being “altar girls.” Any info.?

  18. Pater, OSB says:

    I agree with JC – I don’t foresee and altar’boy’cott as a terrible situation. First, I suspect some families (many?) will tell little Johnnie to get back the sacristy and get vested, because they will see how juvenile and ignorant such a boycott would be. Second, clearing the altar of a stack of servers – if only for a little while – may give the Fathers an opportunity to set an example of proper decorum in the Sanctuary. All-in-all this sounds like a great ‘teachable’ moment – even the bombastic ravings of the offended mother can be worked for the good.

    Kudos to these good Fathers!

  19. LCB says:

    Look at all the problems that follow when horrible abuses are permitted.

    Rolling back altar girls is hard. Imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth when the rollback of self-Communion in the hand is finally ended?

  20. I’d be curious to know what “other ways” girls are being encouraged to offer service & grow spiritually in these parishes, if not by being “altar girls.” Any info.?

    Since the dawn of human history — well, almost — boys have served at the altar, girls in the choir.

  21. Amy in NJ says:

    I think that when making this important change to having all-male altar servers, there needs to be something developed for the former altar girls to do that might be a different, female-oriented way to serve, like Mrs. Cicero says happened at St. Aloysius. These girls are serving at the altar as a way to give back, most of them, and their desire to serve the church needs to be channeled in a more appropriate direction when a change like this one is announced. This way it doesn’t come off to the girls as a “you’re not wanted” but more as a “Try this instead.” How many Rosary Altar Societies are dying off since there are no young women replacing the currently active Rosarians. I also have to say that in my experience, the children don’t tend to have a problem with changes. They go with it. It’s the parents who have the issues.

  22. Larry says:

    “brown eyes” must belong to some other “catholic church” because she says these new ideas “male servers,etc.” come from her bishop and the Vatican. Well, I think that pretty well discribes the arrangement of authority in THE Catholic Church. But I alos notice in some responses a less than charitable tone regarding the young women, girls, who have served at the altar. The tone suggests that there is a feeling of ineqality between boys and girls. That is not the case nor is it the teaching of the Roman Cathoic Church. Lest you forget, we will all hope to have a Woman pleading our cause before the JUDGE.

  23. EDG says:

    Great news! I think he could probably have handled it a little better, though. Years ago, I heard about one pastor who decided to have only altar boys, but set up a group for the girls that made them sort of “junior sacristans” – assisting with things like ironing, tidying, flowers, etc. – and was essentially meant to keep in touch with them and encourage them to consider religious vocations. The girls had retreats and religious activities together, as well as the usual going out for pizza or movies. Something like that might be a nice idea.

  24. LCB says:

    GD wrote, “But I was raised with the belief that everyone in a parish—young AND older, male & female—is obligated to give service.”

    GD, certainly that is true. But does service always mean physically doing something during the liturgy? Traditionally, the mass was the catalyst of service and community events taking place outside the liturgy. The theology that “we are only serving if we are being busy-bodies during the liturgy” is very erroneous, and actually reduces the concept of service. Very often this is described as “sharing our gifts.” I think it is insulting to all to suggest that their God given gift is holding a cup, passing the collection plate, or handing out bulletins. Our gifts are far more than that.

    Simply by being present you assisting in the offering of the sacrifice on the altar. You place yourself along with the sacrifice, and enter into the infinite mystery of the Eucharist.

  25. EDG, I mean, maybe he’s already done all those things and more.

  26. Limbo says:

    Henry !
    Have you any idea of the hours of work we wimmin folk have to do embroidering all those traditional vestments and washing and starching all that white linen and lace, not to mention the cleaning of the sanctuary and the arranging of flowers. Then there is all that fund raising for the altar committee !! exhaustive work. You blokes do the serving …please we’re exhausted !

  27. Larry says:

    On the subject of what was JPII thinking when he did this; at the time I did a lot of research for a priest in our dioces who was more than a little perlplexed. What I discovered was that on the date that this “document” was reportedly signed by JPII he was quite ill. In fact it was reported on the VIS page that on that date he had a temperature of 104 degrees. So it is likely he trusted those who put things before him to sign to be honorable.
    Reportedly John Paul II had promised Mother Teresa of Calcuta that he would never allow for female servers. Whether this document was ever published in the Acta I do not know.

  28. “For years, the Arlington Diocese did not allow altar girls under our former Bishop Keating [RIP]. Our present bishop Loverde allows the practice but at the discretion of the pastor. So, several parishes here do not allow altar girls…”

    Actually, MOST of them do not. Out of about six dozen parishes and missions in the diocese, only about one dozen permit female altar servers. In addition, the diocesan norms allow for the indulgence to be discontinued, should the girls predominate at a parish. Personally, I’m wondering how that reversion would happen. If my son can’t serve because they have all they need, and most of them are girls, am I not treating it as an entitlement if I make a complaint? So I don’t know how that works. But in any case, for most of the diocese, it is really a non-issue.

    I think inviting the young ladies to be “junior sacristans” is a great idea, if only to revive the “Rosary Altar Society” concept.

  29. Patrick A says:

    Perhaps we can start discriminating against Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion as well? Baby steps…baby steps.

  30. I don’t think this was handled correctly if the article is correct and nothing has been left out.

    Was thought given to the effect this would have on the young women who were already serving as altar servers at this parish? Will a teen or pre-teen girl fully understand the reason for why they are no longer permitted to serve on the altar? How will this effect their spiritual development and their relationship with the Church — to one day be in an important role of service and the next day to abruptly be told they are no longer fit to do so?

    Also, do you or do you not believe in the teaching authority of the Church? Because, the Church has stated that women and girls may be altar servers.

    So, as you castigate women and girls being altar servers, understand that you are saying you think the Church is wrong.

  31. Veritas says:

    “Discrimination” is a legal term. For there to be discrimination, there first must be a legal right that has been violated. As an attorney, Ms. Parks should know this.

  32. Brian Walden says:

    “Actually, MOST of them do not. Out of about six dozen parishes and missions in the diocese, only about one dozen permit female altar servers.”

    Are you sure about that? Of the 5 parishes near my house I only know of one that uses only boys – it’s also the only one with weekly Latin (NO) Mass. Maybe I’m just in a liberal part of the diocese of Arlington.

  33. Chironomo says:

    Paul;

    Given the tone and demeanor of the article, you can be certain that PLENTY was left out. This article was written to make the action seem as mean-spirited and discriminatory as possible. There was no attempt to portray it in a positive light, and the use of “party-line” phrases referring to “discrimination”, “suddenly not allowed” and the general tone of entitlement and outrage expressed by those who are “harmed” because they have a “right” to serve displays a very clear agenda.

  34. LCB says:

    Paul,

    Practices are not matters of faith. This is not a matter of faith that has been taught by the Church. It is a practice, and it can be changed. Further, the provision in question allows dioceses and individual priests to make decisions on this matter.

    We are simply calling on them to exercise the perfectly legitimate (and Church given) option they have.

  35. mary martha says:

    This is great news!

    I will join the people who say that there should be some alternate form of service offered to the girls of the parish.

    I grew up disconnected from our parish beyond Sunday attendance because there was honestly nothing for us girls to do there. It is important to find ways (other than serving at the altar) where girls can connect with the life of the Church.

  36. Brian Walden says:

    Also, do you or do you not believe in the teaching authority of the Church? Because, the Church has stated that women and girls may be altar servers.

    So, as you castigate women and girls being altar servers, understand that you are saying you think the Church is wrong.”

    What? That’s rediculous. The church has said that individual bishops may decide to allow altar girls in their diocese if they choose. In a diocese where altar girls are allowed it’s up to the pastor to decide whether or not he wants to use them at his parish.

  37. Father G says:

    The fact that girl altar boys are permitted in the modern church is beside the point. The reality remains…it’s an abuse, just like communion in the hand, extraordinary ministers of the holy Eucharist and women readers…an abuse is and remains an abuse whether its allowed or not. Unfortunately all these have been sanctioned by the Vatican…yeah and so what…these decisions aren’t infallible nor are they irreversible and neither does it mean that they’re good for the Church and sanctioned to what end? More lay participation? Hah! that’s a belly laugh. They all serve only to water down priestly identity,to deter vocations,to cause scandal and weaken the faith of Catholics everywhere. The Vatican has made bad calls before and this is a classic example…

  38. bryan says:

    They\’re no longer being told they\’re fit to do so? Has nothing to do with fitness. Has everything to do with the proper exercise of the hierarchical authority and privileges versus rights in the Church.

    NO ONE outside of an ordained man in the sub-orders up through the Bishop of Rome has a RIGHT to be in the sanctuary. That certain members of the laity are commissioned to fulfill some roles of some of the sub-orders is a privilege granted. Permission to continue abuses are extended and withdrawn all the time. The use of female servers was an abuse. Still is in my own opinion, but is allowed under an indult that\’s not binding under sin if not followed. That the priest, and only the priest, has the right to use them or not, regardless of the parents\’ desires is the key issue here. Not mommy\’s whining about fairness, equality, blah blah blah. That canard is getting old.

    NO teaching authority was exercised in the 94 indult. Authority in the regulation of a practice, perhaps. But teaching? What theological, escatological, or whatever principle is at work here, other than bowing to societal demands of some sort of fuzzy-headed idea that everyone can do everything they want to do?

    The good Father has decided that he does not want altar girls. Good for him. May it ring about a fruitful increase in devotion and vocations from the young men who come back after being pushed off the altar at the thought of having to serve with girls during a critical time in their psychological development, when male companionship and identity is being formed.

    That Father is setting an example in trying to roll back the feminization of the clerical state is even more of a reason to offer a spiritual bouquet in thanksgiving for his use of spine in going against the mores of the modern world.

  39. Veritas says:

    Has anyone ever reached out to these young men and encouraged them to discern a calling to the religious life? All this talk in the article (and some comments here) about what “role” these girls can play, and the discussion eschews one of the most important “roles” available. The Church needs more nuns and religious sisters!!!

  40. Limbo: Henry ! Have you any idea of the hours of work we wimmin folk have to do embroidering all those traditional vestments and washing and starching all that white linen and lace

    Yes, actually, my wife being one of these spending long hours doing just the vital chores you mention, I’m thankful that I get off so easy, only occasionally putting in some easy time training altar boys to “serve”, and the like (or lark?).

  41. Gerry says:

    A pastoral approach with some teaching and preparation for the congregation is so necessary these days before making any changes in a parish. Parishoners need to understand why certain actions are taken. Catholics in the Western world may have more secular high school and college education these days, but they lack comprehensive understanding of their own church at all levels. The doctrines of feminine equality have become engrained in our pluralistic democratic societies. Parents need to understand why the Church doesn’t always subcribe to these contemporary views before we pull their children away from service. We risk losing good and faithful servants because of a reckless approach. Benedict XVI is encouraging change, but even he is doing so at a reasonable pace and explaining his actions before he proceeds. Did the pastor at St.Barnabas distribute any of the recent encyclicals or letters by John Paul II or Benedict XVI to help his parishoners understand his actions before removing the altar girls? Mulieris Dignitatem, “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women” would be a good place to start.

  42. John6:54 says:

    There are no alter girls in my old stompin grounds of Lincoln, NE and there is no priest shortage there.

    If you look at the Church like a football team and that team goes on a losing streak the coach usually goes back to the basics of blocking and tackling. The devil is starting to run up the score and the Pope is guiding his team back to the basics. Now a few pansies priests may quit the team along the way, and raise a big stink, but those who are obedient, and want to win, will watch, listen, and act accordingly. Unfortunately for the humble fans in the pews we are not all sitting in the same stadium at the moment. But when we are, the noise we create for the Lord will be deafening.

  43. Fr Ray Blake says:

    We don’t have female servers. I would love more some ideas for girls.
    Ironing could be considered sexual steriotyping, might be difficult with some mothers.
    The choir is possibly a better idea but our problem is finding lower voices, not high ones.
    Any others?

  44. “Was thought given to the effect this would have on the young women who were already serving as altar servers at this parish?”

    Probably more than was given to the decision to allow them in the first place. Parishes which allowed female servers before 1994, essentially had to lie to the parents, the girls, and anybody else involved. Now, does your idea of thinking something through involve lying, presumedly toward some greater end — like being “fair”???

    This is not an issue of teaching authority, but of discipline. Even the 1994 decree which allows female altar servers encourages the tradition of all-male service, and goes on to acknowledge that as the norm.

    I can only say this from experience, but virtually every case with which I’m familiar, where girls and women are allowed to serve, it is done so as a matter of entitlement and ideology about what is “fair,” whereas in situation where only boys serve, it is emphasized that serving at the altar is a privilege.

    So, you tell me, who is thinking this through, and who isn’t?

  45. Emilio says:

    This was done at my parish by our former pastor in 1992, when it was not Kosher to do so at all, especially here. WWIII erupted, many left dissaffected, embittered, etc…but MANY more stayed and were edified by the fruits of the male-only program. The girls who used to be altar servers were re-organized into a girls choir, learned gregorian masses and chants in addition to traditional vernacular hymns, and were given spiritual direction before their weekly rehearsals by nuns in full habit. The new male-only program in which I served required a more serious understanding of what we were doing at the Altar under our pastor’s guidance, and we went from 10 girls and 2 boys in albs just barely able to bring cruets and hold missals up for the orations, to a rock-solid program of 40 boys who learned Bishop Elliott’s Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite inside and out. When more was asked of us and the bar was raised, we readily rose to the challenge and surpassed our pastor’s expectations. I am 28 years old now, and I owe my faith and my love and fascination for the sacred liturgy to my 10 years serving at the altar in that program. It was a win-win decision in the long run. Kudos to this parish priest in Wisconsin, you will never regret your decision.

  46. Veritas says:

    Fr. Ray:

    Can some sort of group be formed to provide these young women the opportunity to explore a religious vocation? That seems the place to start! The article mentions such a group for the altar boys–how they meet weekly. Perhaps that example can be drawn from.

  47. Ken says:

    Father, I posted this on my blog too, and one of my readers gave a link to encourage the priest in question at this parish. Here it is:http://home.catholicweb.com/stbarnabas/index.cfm/contact

  48. Gavin says:

    This is a foolish move on the part of the priests. They’ve angered their entire congregation, and for what? So they don’t catch cooties?

    I’m not 100% pro-all-boy, but I do value the tradition of male acolytes and would prefer to see the traditional practice carried out. But it strikes me there are very many better things the priest could have spent energy on than this. Latin, good music, better preaching, the EF; try working on these things instead. Maybe if these priests would have led their flock FIRST towards a respect for tradition, they could have instituted the all-male corps easier down the road.

    As someone who’s waged similar battles as a musician, I appreciate their fervor. However, these guys have A LOT to learn.

  49. Ken says:

    Sorry, here it is: ://home.catholicweb.com/stbarnabas/index.cfm/contact

  50. Atlanta says:

    Wow, Fr. Z., another impressive, hard hitting post. I think yours is the *best* blog I have ever read, never mind Catholic. I love your emphases, comments, and links. Very intelligent.

    Personally, I was shocked to learn the Catholic church did allow girls in the altar. I had thought better of the Catholic church. I am glad to see that there are clergy and people in the church who disapprove of this innovative practice. I wonder what the Pope thinks about this? I am not really understanding how the Catholic church works. Apparently the Pope thinks it ok because these churches are allowing to girls to serve in the altar? If not, please educate me on to how this process works.

    Also a lot of altar boys go wayward, or at least they did in the past. It seems to me it would better serve the priest to focus his attention on the altar boys rather than have it diffused all over the place and therefore weakened.

  51. Gavin says:

    Might I add that WHEN THIS IS APPROPRIATE (say, when it won’t cause a riot and strike), the idea of making it about “here are some other things for the girls to do” is a good one, PARTICULARLY to encourage vocations to the female religious life. Although I will caution that it was not the case (contra Henry) that girls sang in the choir. There was a large thread on that at NLM as to whether women should be allowed to sing. And I dare say that the opponents of women singing have more facts to stand on than opponents of women serving at the altar.

  52. Trevor says:

    “We don’t have female servers. I would love more some ideas for girls.
    Ironing could be considered sexual steriotyping, might be difficult with some mothers.
    The choir is possibly a better idea but our problem is finding lower voices, not high ones.
    Any others?”

    Fr. Blake,

    Perhaps you could form a guild for young ladies in the same way altar guilds have been formed for the young men. Perhaps the young ladies can lead the Rosary before Mass? Perhaps they could also assist any religious sisters that reside in your parish. If altar serving is supposed to be an introductory course to the priesthood, perhaps it will benefit the ladies to gain some experience in the duties of a religious sister.

  53. Vincent says:

    Gavin, FYI:
    The priests from Society of Christ the Priest actually offer daily Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St. Norbert Parish, Roxbury (one of the 5 parishes that they run). They are very solid priests and they pray the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin.

  54. Tobias says:

    Does a parish priest have a right to recruit lectors and extraordinary Eucharistic
    ministers from among men only? The argument above is that altar boys fulfill the
    role of acolyte (which in the current arrangement is equivalent to the old minor
    order of subdeacon, right?), a role which no lay person has a *right* to fulfill.
    Now, the extraordinary Eucharistic minister fulfills one of the roles of a priest
    (or deacon — did deacons normally distribute Holy Communion prior to Vatican II?).
    And “lector” is another minor order, also restricted to men (right?). So doesn’t
    it stand to reason that a priest could say, “As lay lectors and lay extraordinary
    ministers of the Eucharist are playing a role that properly belongs to a male
    cleric, ergo I hereby shall discontinue employing women in these capacities”? Does
    this argument fly? Does a parish priest have this authority? If the local ordinary
    decreed something like this, would it be in accordance with canon law?

    Plus,
    I think that Fr. Brian Harrison argued once that the relevant Vatican documents
    about women readers at Mass envisions them reading from some point outside of the
    sanctuary.

  55. Royce says:

    Gerry,

    I really doubt people are going to read JPII’s encyclicals if they are passed out after Mass. Sermon series and bulletin letters are surely much more effective.

  56. Tobias says:

    Also, some here have suggested that the girls could sing in the choir. I thought
    that there were restrictions on female choirs — they can sing only those parts
    of the Mass which the laity may sing as a congregation. Is this correct? I thought
    the rule was based on the Pauline injunction against women’s voices being heard
    in church.

  57. I know a priest who, when he arrived at his new parish where there was altar girls, he just stopped having servers altogether except for a few handpicked altar boys. Then he started a Marian sodality for the girls. Then he opened altar serving to boys who had made their first Communion.

    Having a sodality for girls, teaching them catechism and proper behavior in the world is definitely a plus. The girls usually lead the rosary in Marian processions.

  58. Justin B says:

    I wonder if these angry parents are instilling in their daughters the true meaning of and the honor that it is to serve at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as vehemently as they are instilling in them their brand of feminism.

    Doubt it.

  59. Emilio says:

    Tobias – this doesn’t apply to the Ordinary Form, and if the limitations did apply for the Extraordinary Form – hasn’t Ecclesia Dei made a concession permitting women to be able to sing everything now?

  60. Father G says:

    Bryan…

    Well said!

  61. Ruthy Lapeyre says:

    Gavin,
    “As someone who’s waged similar battles as a musician, I appreciate their fervor. However, these guys have A LOT to learn.”

    As a parish musician myself I think it is a great move on the part of the priests. There is no getting around it, when girls are allowed to be altar servers the boys lose interest. I have heard that some priests are using an intermediary step of having only girls serve a Mass, same for the boys. Don’t know if this is helpful. The article is lacking in information concerning what steps if any were taken by the priest before the decision was made. Perhaps he offered some sort of compromise and it was refused. If so, he may well have supposed “in for a penny in for a pound.”

  62. Paul Haley says:

    It’s not about men vs women or boys vs girls. It’s about what is in conformance to the Tradition of Holy Mother Church as received from Jesus and passed on to the apostles. It’s not a power trip or anything of the kind. It’s doing what the Lord Jesus commanded when he taught them the liturgy and the example of the holy women who acceded to the Lord’s wishes and direction.

  63. Sid Cundiff says:

    The good news keeps rolling in: the restored pallium, female altar servers on the way out, more MEFs everywhere, serious consideration of restoring the fast, no papal communion in the hand. Do I detect a trend?

  64. bryan says:

    Father G:

    You’re welcome.

  65. bryan says:

    Sid:

    I certainly hope so. Perhaps, with the Lord’s prompting, instead of brick by brick, it’s more like poured 12′ concrete wall by poured 12′ concrete wall.

    A most blessed antidote to what’s happening in the real world.

    Matt. 16:18:
    Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam

  66. Matthew Mattingly says:

    I think there’s more to this than just an issue in the parishes and the Bishop.
    I would not be surprised if there is movement in Rome, probably at the instigation of our excellent Pope, Benedict XVI, to recind, supress, and do away with all the abuses which came from Vatican II.
    I’ve already heard that the Pope has instructed the CDW to formulate a document to end the practice of mass “concelebrations”….you know…the special Masses when anywhere from 20-500+ priests show up and concelebrate Mass with the officiating bishop (or the Pope) vested in just alb and stole.
    Also, the Pope has initiated and will adopt as standard practice the faithful kneeling to recieve Holy Communion from him on the tongue.
    IN addition, the Pope has 2x since Christmas celebrated Mass “ad orientam”.
    I think what is happening in these parishes is great. It’s monumental. Altar girls should have been discontinued years ago….in fact, they should never have been allowed. John Paul II’s sicknesses are no excuse. If he was really against it, he would never have signed it.
    Women and girls should never have been on the altar in any capacity anyway.
    Now we can look for dozens of women in these parishes to carry on in the same childish way many did when Hillary Clinton was running for president, and they were saying how persecuted and harassed she was, and how unfair everything is against women. Total nonsense, but we had to listen to it for weeks on CNN etc. anyway.

    These childish fits will pass. But I can imagine all the likewise fits when Communion in the Hand, and standing for communion is banned (hopefully soon)…together with altar girls.

  67. I am not Spartacus says:

    Perhaps we can start discriminating against Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion as well? Baby steps…baby steps.

    How many Parishes have permanent Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers? Ought not their title indicate their purpose?

    I have been to Parishes where I have had to wait five minutes for Communion because so many EEM’s were milling about The Sanctuary muckling onto the Sacred Vessels before clomping off throughout the Church to distribute the Body and Blood of Our Lord and Saviour whereas if the Priest and Deacon distributed Communion it’d have taken, maybe, ten minutes total time.

    On page 547 of William Thomas Walsh’s, “Philip 11,” we read Philip never tired of adorning that place of God with rich ornaments and vessels. It was noticed to, that he was more attentive to his private devotions; he would pray for for or five hours a day. When he saw a little girl climb over the altar rail in San Lorenzo, he lifted her out and said, Neither you nor I can go up there were the priests go.”

    King Philip got it. Why can’t we?

    I am more than a little tired of having the extraordinary exception be thought of as either normative or good. I suspect that Pope John Paul II very reluctantly agreed to this altar girl claptrap because he was, among many other things, about the business of preventing schisms.

    There is an old axiom that the Funeral Rite is the answer to many of the Church’s problems. Those who thought it wise to Marry the Church to the political Spirit of feminism are now finding themselves served with divorce papers or preparing for funerals.

    Put EEM’s on the Ecclesiastical Endangered Species List too.

    What is funny about the whole thing is that liberals thought they’d “won.” WRONG!!!!

    Longanimity and Romanita always triumph.

  68. Mary Jane says:

    Thanks, Emilio –
    “The girls who used to be altar servers were re-organized into a girls choir, learned gregorian masses and chants in addition to traditional vernacular hymns, and were given spiritual direction before their weekly rehearsals by nuns in full habit.”

    That’s a far better activity than ironing, although I certainly would have no objection to teenagers who can iron linen without scorching it. Teach them to sing and you’ll have the backbone of future choirs; you’ll have mothers who can teach their children to sing; and yes, you might have a few choir nuns along the way.

    Another possibility is to enlist the girls in some teaching activity as assistants in CCD or the nursery.

    Finding the nun in full habit might be a challenge in many parts of the world. One of the biggest problems is that while boys can still (ideally) find a role model in their parish priests, girls are out in the cold. Most schools have no religious teaching in them. The religious sisters functioning in parish and diocesan offices are indistinguishable from other unmarried older women who hang around churches. The only nun many girls have seen is Whoopi Goldberg in “Sister Act.” Not exactly a role model. There’s also a “chicken-egg” problem here. Many active orders are slowly fading away from lack of vocations. They gave up their teaching or nursing to pursue other directions and by doing so inadvertantly cut off the pipeline that fed them future vocations. If no one sees you, no one will want to join you.

  69. TomH says:

    I love the change. But it should be mentioned that a change of that kind should be done tactfully and likely waiting until he built some level of relationship with his new Parish would likely have been in the pastor and parish’s best interest.

    Being right at the expense of being charitable can cause unnecessary trauma. Don’t mean to de-rail the bus on a wonderful change, but it’s worth calling out and not unimportant. Emotions are not evil and should be considered even if the progs allow themselves to be utterly ruled by them.

  70. Scott W. says:

    We should send the priests involved a note of encouragement. Anyone got contact info?

  71. Maynardus says:

    Bryan stated: “…instead of brick by brick, it’s more like poured 12’ concrete wall by poured 12’ concrete wall.”

    And who gave us concrete? Was it not the Romans? This is very apt!

  72. Gavin: Although I will caution that it was not the case (contra Henry) that girls sang in the choir. There was a large thread on that at NLM as to whether women should be allowed to sing.

    I suspect your age — and perhaps that of some at NLM — may be showing here. Prior to Vatican II, girls and women sang hymns and the Ordinary of the Mass in most (choir-loft) choirs in this country, and indeed, then as now were their mainstays. As I indicated before, this was what young girls did when their brothers were serving at the altar.

    The question sometimes discussed (by the uniformed) is whether women can sing in a schola within the sanctuary — which was not then and is not now proper.

    A consequent question is whether it is ok for a mixed choir outside the sanctuary to sing the Propers of the Mass that would be sung by a schola within the sanctuary. Most now believe this is fine, though at one time some might not have regarded it so.

  73. Sam Schmitt says:

    Someone mentioned the comments written in response to the original article. The poor people writing in who oppose this change are simply broadcasting to the world their ignorance and reliance on their own opinions and feelings as opposed to the what canon law and the tradition of the church say. They have been given such a poor formation and catechesis. Just more sobering evidence of the real fallout from the last 40 years or so.

  74. Paul says:

    For those who asked about these priests. Visit St. Aloysius Parish, Sauk City WI. http://www.saint-aloysius.org

  75. dad29 says:

    It is worth remembering that Madison, WI. was described as “10 square miles surrounded by reality” by a former Governor of Wisconsin.

    Pray, hard, for Bp. Morlino, who is the Orthodoxy Leader in the Wisconsin Bishops’ Conference.

  76. Andy says:

    How fortunate I’m to be now in a country where altar girls are a rarity at few most progressive parishes in the capital, but not in the conservative city I happen to live in!

  77. Mitchell says:

    How is it that lay people attempt to place man’s law in place of canon law……We all know what happens when we try to impose “religious” laws upon public institutions !!!!! Someone should write this “lawyer” about separation of Church and state…..It works BOTH ways !!!!

  78. Kim Poletto says:

    Tobias:

    Concerning all your questions regrding what a priest could do, the anwser is yes.

    Concerning JPII giving permission for the use of female altar servers, recall that that specific question was not put to him. I don’t recall how it was specifically phrased (and I am not at home to check), but female altar servers were not referenced.

    Kim

  79. patrick f says:

    Quote ” consequent question is whether it is ok for a mixed choir outside the sanctuary to sing the Propers of the Mass that would be sung by a schola within the sanctuary. Most now believe this is fine, though at one time some might not have regarded it so.”

    Having a background in choral music myself, and growing up in a world renowned children’s choir (St. Louis Children’s Choirs), I would have to say for many of the motets , atleast in this country, it is necessary to have women. There are no great “Boys Choir” schools in the United states, atleast none that I know of anyhow that are historically attached to a catholic site. There are wonder groups like pueri cantores, which of course are mixed children’s groups. So I think if there is a legitimate law against women in scholas and such, then either musicians need to work towards a change, or, people better start founding a whole bunch of choral academies, because you will lose half the polyphony at that point. As wonderful as a mens chorus is, it just doesnt work with sacred music, not the way a true SATB chorus does.

    Sorry for getting off on the musical kick. There are good places for lay women in the church. And as text book as this sounds, women are child bearers. There isnt a higher calling then that, and most priests and bishops even agree on that one. What has happened here is a distortion of truth. One thinks they need to totally have their hands in something to be involved. It doesnt make you less of a catholic because you cant stand in the ministerial area. Rather, I think it shows you all the stronger in your Christian understanding when you can accept it with true humility, and obedience

  80. TJM says:

    Boo,hoo, hoo. I like this priest very much and I have not even met him! Tom

  81. Joan says:

    Henry said: “Prior to Vatican II, girls and women sang hymns and the Ordinary of the Mass in most (choir-loft) choirs in this country, and indeed, then as now were their mainstays.”

    This is, indeed, true. I enjoyed the choir from my school – St. Leo’s Convent of Mercy singing at Sunday Mass and for Christmas. This was in the ’50’s as I left school in 1960.

  82. Jeremy says:

    Thank you, Society of Jesus Christ the Priest!

    New Jersey, Wisconsin, where else in the USA is this Spanish order?

  83. Matthew says:

    Patrick: Just to play devil’s advocate, let me remind you that women in choirs is an innovation of the period shortly after Trent, when opera’s influence began creeping into liturgical music. Most of the scholars of the Liturgical Movement, particularly Dom Prosper Gueranger, would argue that an all-male schola in the sanctuary is not only ideal for the liturgy, but that the vocal style of the male-only group represents a better continuity with the liturgical music of the middle ages and apostolic times, and the so-called “ideal” form of worship then found.

    Personally, I enjoy female voices in choirs, and unlike the fathers of the liturgical movement, always prefered the Tridentine model of worship to the Medieaval liturgical mess of a slightly different use in every Diocese, which is too reminiscent of the liturgical experiments we find today.

  84. Dennis says:

    I’m a ccd teacher and got in trouble when this issue came up in class, there was a news item of a pastor who began to only accept boys for service and took a lot of flak for it. I mentioned this in my class during a lesson on the mass and I said I hold the opinion that females should not be serving at the altar and I gave a number of reasons but also with the condition that femal servers
    are allowed and legal. A young lady in my class got upset told her parents, they called the dre — I was called into a meeting. Dre told me the issue of altar girls was church teaching and case closed– I said no, it’s not -that no priest can be forced to have girl servers and pulled out the CDW document on the issue -she agreeed and in our meeting told the child and parent what I and CDW said that no priest has to have girl servers and there is no right to serve.

  85. josephus muris saliensis says:

    Having looked at their website, it looks like a great parish, there is an article on the home-page about Archbishop Ranjith and Communion in the hand. Brilliant.

    I must say, though, that I am appalled, as a traditional Catholic and conservative, by the evidence of pathetically emotional response of some correspondents, who think being “kind and nice” is the most important thing, and that we must tread slowly-slowly when correcting error in case “we upset people”. What rot! If people are in error, then the truly kindest thing is to fix it immediately. You can explain later, but your first concern must be to get the ship back on a even keel.

  86. JML says:

    Like the good Father, I am a long time reader of The Cardinal. Let me quote a passage (rather long) from the end of The Rector:

    “Father,” said Jeremy, “I want to be a priest.”

    Shy utterance of the call, proud acknowledgement of the sacredotal gift! Stephen remembered his own shy, proud declaration in another room, long ago, and the question from Father O’Connor: How old are you, Stephen?”
    “Fourteen, going on fifteen, Father.”
    Transition and full turn. “How old are you now, Jeremy?”
    “Almost fifteen, Father.”
    “And how long have you wanted to be a priest?”
    “Ever since that morning I spoiled your first Mass.”
    .
    .
    .
    “What’s your idea of a priest’s life, Jemmy?”
    With adolescent brush Jeremy Splaine began sketching a picture for his hero, “Well, a priest is sort of — sacred.”
    “Why sacred?”
    “Because he touches the Body of our Lord every day in the Blessed Sacrament, and that makes him want to be like our Lord — that is, as much as he can.”
    “Then a priest is an imitation of Christ, would you say?”
    “I don’t like the word ‘imitation,'” said Jemmy. “Like is better.”
    .
    .
    .
    “I want you to meet Father Halley, our pastor,” said Stephen. ” A very great man.”
    Stephen knocked on Father Halley’s door. “A visitor from Malden, one of your old parishes, Father. May we come in?”
    .
    .
    .
    “Father Halley, this is Jeremey Splaine, one of my first altar boys.”
    The old priest mumbled a courtesy. From his mouth saliva drolled. Stephen, wiping it away with a towel, watched Jeremy assembling his nerve under the triple shock of smell, sight, and sound. The boy way trembling, his freckles the color of saffron dough. Wast it unfair, a mistake in judgement, perhaps, to let the beginning to see the end?
    .
    .
    .
    Ned Halley answered the question by lifting a withered hand. “You have a vocation.” His voice was a clairvoyant declaration, the joy of a sentry recognizing a friend. “It is a shining one. My God bless you.” The old priest made the sign of the cross. “In nomine Patris, et Fillii, et Spiritus Sancti.” It was both a benediction and a countersign.

    Advance, friend, the blessing said. Advance confidently, praising as you go.

  87. This is wonderful news. I may have to start that series up again about my observations and thoughts about the all male program at Assumption Grotto. I have at least 2-3 posts to make in order to complete the series.

  88. R says:

    Mary Jane:

    What about Maggie Smith in ‘Sister Act’? ;)

  89. Richard says:

    I get the feeling that the parents want to treat this parish like a tightly knit little private school where the parents pretty much call the shots as to how everything is run and the personnel are supposed to sit by and do what they want like little yes men.

  90. Royce says:

    Tobias,

    Yes, deacons may distribute Holy Communion in the EF, though I believe this is regarded as an exception of sorts.

  91. Warren Anderson says:

    To those who “feel” entitled to anything, I say “KNOW YOUR ROLE!” The whole idea of bringing a competition between boys and girls, or men and women for that matter, into the sanctuary is entirely misplaced. 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 is worth a re-read (with a Catholic commentary) for some folk. Equal, but not the same.

  92. a catechist says:

    I was an altar girl in the early 80s, because I desperately wanted it & my pastor got disgusted by the fact the scheduled boys regularly didn’t show up–the first time I served, there were several altar boys in the pews who wouldn’t get up and do the job. If there had been ANY other way for me to be involved with service, I probably would have been. For me, it was mostly about being close to Jesus in the Eucharist; Benediction was always my favorite. (And yes, I did consider becoming a Sister & do inquiry with an Order.) But previous posters are right—the girls shouldn’t be on the altar AND giving the former altar girls some way to be close to the Blessed Sacrament (and not helping out with CCD)would be a very good idea.

    I’ve been conservative about this for a few yrs. (and in a far different parish). Now that I have a son too young to serve yet but generally interested in the Eucharist, I’m concerned that there are hardly any altar boys in my parish. We’re hoping there will be a TLM available to us by the time he makes his First Communion, so he can learn to serve that way first.

  93. patrick f said “There are no great “Boys Choir” schools in the United states”

    Actually, there is ONE. The Boston Boys Choir has been going strong at St. Paul’s, Cambridge since the early 1960s. Their semi-annual concerts are wonderful, and I understand that their contribution to the weekly Mass is also outstanding.

    As for alternate activities for young women, in addition to the choir, sodality and catechetical work suggested, there is charitable work such as working with chapters of the Ladies of Charity or the St. Vincent de Paul Society which has youth chapters.

  94. Cancel all altar servers.

    Sign up the men.

    The boys will come back.

  95. There is no institution in the US today which at every opportunity chooses always and in every case those decisions that are absolutely the worst for the institution and show a complete lack of regard and even comtempt for the flourishing and well-being of the institution. Such unequaled self-hatred!

    Do what is best for the needs of the Church! Period!

  96. michigancatholic says:

    A recovery of male Catholicity. It’s about time.

    And now perhaps we can see a revival of female Catholicity! I’m sick and tired of butchy female “ministers” (usually with zero to 2 kids) who don’t seem to be aware what women have always done in the church. There’s lots for us to do:
    -women often have very deep prayer lives–some of the greatest “prayer” saints were women! We pray.
    -women sing! ditto. St. Cecilia. Enough said.
    -women welcome and make people at home–now most Catholic parishes are about as welcoming as a freeway rest stop. They’re usually locked up in fact.
    -women take care of the church–Can we get some real altar cloths instead of those hankies we have now?
    -it’s not like we don’t have about a million people who need help in society! And we don’t have sisters anymore so it’s a job waiting to be done. We need teachers who are catholic too, so we can stop hiring the unchurched to teach in Catholic schools.
    -and family life. For ALL ADULTS, you don’t run off to play at parish “ministry” instead of doing your work at home. There’s a lot of that going on now, unfortunately.

  97. michigancatholic says:

    I’m not sure why all those strike-throughs are there. I set off the items below with dashes. That probably did it. Anyway, they’re unintentional. Please ignore the strikethroughs.

  98. Nancy says:

    Having grown up a miserable feminist (who now homeschools eight children), I have become aware through my four daughters of the great gift of true femininity, a gift we share with Our Lady.

    One of the lovely lost mysteries of womanhood is its hidden glory. While there are sterling examples of women called to a public life of heroic virtue, the vast majority of women saints have lived in obscurity, their devotion known only to God. The queenliness of this quiet sanctity is denied girls today, who are forever being told that their value lies in their ability to mimic boys, to have what boys have and do what they do. Serving at the altar is a sacrifice, not a power grab. Cloistered prayer for sinners is deep service; so is coping with the endless minutiae of home life. We are all called to be servants of some kind; is one avenue of service less valuable or necessary than another?

    I do not want our four daughters serving alongside our four sons at the altar, because I want the eyes of all of our children to be focused entirely on the glory of their particular callings from God.

    Father Blake, I love Trevor’s idea of an altar society or sodality for girls, and if a recognizable nun could not be found then perhaps a devout older lady who recalls a similar society from days gone by. Raising devout children in this antagonistic society is such a struggle; it would be so helpful to have appropriate role models at the parish level for all of our kids.

  99. patrick f says:

    quote”patrick f said “There are no great “Boys Choir” schools in the United states”

    Actually, there is ONE. The Boston Boys Choir has been going strong at St. Paul’s, Cambridge since the early 1960s. Their semi-annual concerts are wonderful, and I understand that their contribution to the weekly Mass is also outstanding.

    As for alternate activities for young women, in addition to the choir, sodality and catechetical work suggested, there is charitable work such as working with chapters of the Ladies of Charity or the St. Vincent de Paul Society which has youth chapters.”

    I wasnt aware of them. Thanks for the insite Steve! Hopefully Our cathedral will invite them one of these years.

    And Matthew is right, the women’s innovation came right around the council of trent. What I failed at pointing out is alot of the staple songs you hear, like BYrd’s Ave Verum, Tallis’s “Salvator mundi”, the ones people just associate with church music(IE VERY renaissance choral pieces) and even the Victoria Pieces, particularly the Ave Maria (Which is by far, the best ave maria arrangement, but I of course am partial to renaissance choral), were tudor based (many of which before the tudor’s took magisterium upon themselves), thus the strong male presence.

    Though there are very good operatic pieces, The Stabet Mater Of Dvorak for instance, or the ever favorite Panis Angelicus.

    I digress, back on topic :)
    I think if parents start taking an active role here the situation will fix itself. Its up to parents to catechise their kids, and even the simplest lessons about structure of the mass, roles of mass, and so forth should be stressed. I agree with the idea that women servers can and are viewed as that crucial stepping stone towards female “ordination”, all the more reason to stop the practice

  100. Kit says:

    Thank you all for confirming my decision to never allow my sons in a Catholic church. The contempt for women expressed on this site and in this thread is truly nauseating. You only allow women drudge-work. Your entire religion is based on the principle that girls have cooties. I want my sons to respect women as people, not as brainless, cowardly weaklings, so vastly different that no communication is possible.

    Nancy, you were never a feminist if it made you miserable. Feminism is the idea that women are first human and as good as men, not that we’re the same. You have a mind and a will. USE THEM!!! I pity your daughters, raised to believe in their deep inferiority. I only hope they can escape into a real life.

  101. jacobus says:

    “Feminism is the idea that women are first human and as good as men, not that we’re the same.”

    Does Feminism allow that men and women, being equal in dignity, but certainly different, might have separate roles to perform in the Church? If not, why not?

  102. Ioannes says:

    Dear Kit,

    Your motherly, womanly instinct to “protect” your sons is ample proof to me that those nurturing qualities of a woman are so alive in you.
    But, your sons too will become adults soon enough, and, since they also “have a mind and a will.” They will “USE THEM.” Once they know the Truth as revealed by Christ for 2000 years through His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, maybe your sons will even develop a vocation and become priests.

    Would you have kept your sons out of the upper room during the last supper just because Christ chose only 12 MEN? Do you consider His selection “nauseating” or an expression of “Contempt against women”?

    Reconsider your comments in light of this.

  103. HMacK says:

    Obedience has always come at a price. St Paul describes in ample and clear detail on our expected decorum in public worship. We all have our place in God’s kingdom.

  104. Ioannes Andreades says:

    True, no member of the laity has the “right” to serve at the altar, but indignation can still be righteous if privileges are allotted in a capricious, arbitrary, or otherwise scandalous fashion. There is no reason to believe that Tammy Parks believes females have a right to serve at the altar.

    As a VERY active altar boy who genuinely considered the priesthood partially because I enjoyed serving at the altar, I am absolutely convinced that the presence of girls would have made no difference to me. I generally had a high opinion of the girls in my school and a much lower opinion of the boys, who frequently flaked out when scheduled. The suggestion that my interest in a priestly vocation would have been compromised if I had not been part of an all-boys group is preposterous! I would actually be very suspect of a boy who was attracted to an all-boy group of servers for the sake of exclusion and then showed interest in the priesthood. A lot of priests still consider women to be second-class Catholics, and such treatment is evil and must be cleaned up!

  105. Jeff says:

    Tobias,

    In EF a Deacon is considered an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. In the OF he is considered an Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

  106. Ann says:

    I have noticed several postings that suggest the change could have been announced/made in a more tactful way. In my opinion, that would not have mattered. It has been my experience that when people don’t like a particular change, they will lament that “If only they had gone about it another way, then I would accept it”, but in reality that seems to be just an excuse for not wanting to obey. It seems to me that we need to learn to humbly accept not only the changes themselves, but also the way they are made, without expecting endless dialogue beforehand to supposedly get everyone on board.

    I think those of us who are parents probably recognize a similar scenario when our children ask “Why?” when we require something of them that they do not want to do. If we try to answer their question, they usually come up with more rebuttals; they are not really interested in knowing “Why?” so much as they are in trying to get us to change our minds.

    I would be very surprised if the parishioners of St. Barnabas were not expecting this change, since the same change was made within the past year or so at the three nearby parishes also served by the Society.

  107. Tiny says:

    “I would actually be very suspect of a boy who was attracted to an all-boy group of servers for the sake of exclusion and then showed interest in the priesthood”

    “I’m sorry, your application to the seminary has been turned down because we feel you became a torch-bearer for the wrong reasons, twelve years ago”

    Really though, serving nurtures incipient vocations; if a boy joins up because he wants to belong to an elite Altar Serving Confraternity,hey, it’s a start.

    Too bad most parishes don’t have elite Altar Serving Confraternities.

  108. Kradcliffe says:

    I remember Fr. Z had a blog entry about another priest who implemented this change in his parish. He quoted and linked to the priest’s parish bulletin, where the reasons for the change were very charitably and beautifully explained.

    Ah! I found it:

    http://www.stmarynorwalk.net/faqbox.html

  109. JD says:

    Oremus!

  110. Nancy says:

    Dear Kit-
    You’re right in this sense- we all struggle with some amount of blindness in this life and I am no exception. Please pray for me that whatever I misunderstand about my children’s needs will be enlightened by God, and that I will have the strength and humility to serve those needs for the sake of their happiness. Many thanks.
    Nancy

  111. volpius says:

    “If someone has a vocation, how does serving with a girl interfere with that?”

    The point is they often wont actually serve with girls, if girls are there they just wont serve at all and so will never explore the possibility of a vocation. Boys and girls naturally separate themselves during childhood any teacher can tell you this, they even used to make naughty boys sit with girls as punishment this is how much boys don’t like to mix with girls when they are younger.

    Lets not deny reality for the sake of political correctness, God gave boys and girls this instinct of separation for good reasons in my opinion, we can either make good use of it or bad but we can’t try and change it without doing great harm.

    On a side note when I was at school the boys who later decided they were gay were the ones that used to prefer hanging out with girls. Of course we cant make generalisations but the accusation that mixing only with boys makes you suspect of been gay is ridiculous and it seems possibly the opposite is true.

  112. In EF a Deacon is considered an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. In the OF he is considered an Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

    Not exactly. A deacon was considered an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion under the 1917 Code of Canon Law. A deacon is considered an ordinary minister of Holy Communion under the 1983 Code of Canon Law; in all forms of the Roman Rite.

    From the 1917 Code:

    Can. 845. section l. Minister ordinarius sacrae communionis est solus sacerdos.

    section 2. Extraordinarius est diaconus, de Ordinarii loci vel parochi licentia, gravi de causa concedenda, quae in casu necessitatis legitime praesumitur.

    (Sorry, I couldn’t find the 1917 code in English. Section 1 states that the ordinary minister of Holy Communion is solely a priest. Section 2 states that “the deacon is an extraordinary [minister], when licensed by the Ordinary of the place or the Pastor, for grave cause and necessity.)

    From the 1983 Code:

    Can. 910 §1. The ordinary minister of holy communion is a bishop, presbyter, or deacon.

  113. RBrown says:

    Thank you all for confirming my decision to never allow my sons in a Catholic church.

    And what if one of your sons decides to convert and become a priest?

    And don’t think it doesn’t happen that converts and even priests can come from anti-Catholic families.

    The contempt for women expressed on this site and in this thread is truly nauseating. You only allow women drudge-work. Your entire religion is based on the principle that girls have cooties.

    Ever been to France or Italy, two of the most historically Catholic nations? In those countries the feminine is celebrated. In fact, when I first went to France in 1972, I was immediately struck by the fact that the entire culture was set up for women.

    Here in the US feminism has come to mean competing with men in the marketplace.

    I want my sons to respect women as people, not as brainless, cowardly weaklings, so vastly different that no communication is possible.

    I think your problem is with Germanic culture.

    Nancy, you were never a feminist if it made you miserable. Feminism is the idea that women are first human and as good as men, not that we’re the same. You have a mind and a will. USE THEM I pity your daughters, raised to believe in their deep inferiority. I only hope they can escape into a real life.
    Comment by Kit

    My problem with feminism is that it denigrates motherhood. Further, it misleads young girls into thinking that their push for careers will not interfere with their ability to find a suitable mate.

    I have seen it happen often. A girl graduates from college, goes to work, maybe even gets her Master’s degree (all good things). She assumes that marriage will come along soon. Then one day she wakes up on her 30th birthday, knows her biological clock is ticking, looks around and sees doesn’t see anyone that she’d even consider marrying. Finally, knowing that time is not on her side, she lowers her standards and marries a divorced guy with 2 kids or someone who has trouble supporting himself, much less a family.

  114. Jordanes says:

    Ioannes Andreades said: I would actually be very suspect of a boy who was attracted to an all-boy group of servers for the sake of exclusion and then showed interest in the priesthood.

    Then let’s all hope your bishop never commits the keys to the seminary into your keeping. Boys being attracted to boys’ clubs is normal and healthy, not a reason to doubt that a boy has been called to the priesthood.

  115. B Knotts says:

    This article demonstrates how confusion has been created by allowing girls to serve at the altar in the first place, which was an exceptionally bad decision. It has made things more difficult for everyone. What should have been done is that the priests and bishops who were illictly allowing this should have been disciplined, and a clear instruction should have been issued.

  116. jarhead462 says:

    “I would actually be very suspect of a boy who was attracted to an all-boy group of servers for the sake of exclusion and then showed interest in the priesthood.”

    Would you say the same thing about a boy who wants to join the
    Boy Scouts? It does not have to be about exclusion.

  117. Sparki says:

    Hooray — very good news.

    I am in the Diocese of Lincoln, and we still have boys only serving at altar here, and being encouraged to vocations to the priesthood. Somebody above said there’s no priest shortage here — not quite true. We are very blessed and doing very well, but our priests are all juggling multiple roles and very, very busy. It’s good to have as many as we have, but more would be better.

    We also have strong showing in religious orders for women. One of our two diocesan orders, the School Sisters of Christ the King, is growing and 1/3 of the sisters are under the age of 30.

    FATHER BLAKE above was asking what other things girls can do. In our diocese, they help with candles, flower arrangements, altar linens, various decorations on special occasions (May Crowning, Easter, Christmas, etc.). They are greeters and work on the bulletins and parish web sites (if they’re old enough to do so ). They are “commentators” — meaning the read a welcoming message, announce the celebrant, and invite people to stand for Hymn #??? before the priest enters for mass. They also help with the music, either singing, playing instruments, etc. They help with mailings and “parishioner contact” stuff…like keeping a calendar of birthdays, addressing and stamping envelopes and providing the cards to Father so he can write a quick birthday greeting.

  118. I am not Spartacus says:

    The contempt for women expressed on this site and in this thread is truly nauseating. You only allow women drudge-work

    I do no think that is a fair observation. For instance, I would have no problem if you, for instance, were to grab a shovel some February Saturday night and remove all of the snow in the parking lot at The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Maine so I’d have a place to park my car there for Mass on Sunday.

    I think sex appropriate jobs can sometimes accomodate women like your own self.

    Of, btw, just what was Mary’s life like back in the day when, as Theotokos, she had what you’d no doubt consider a life of drudgery?

  119. Sissy says:

    If women were to be called to the priesthood etc. then Jesus would have appointed His sinless mother as a priest and Apostle. Our Lady stayed in the background but you can bet your sweet bippy she was doing a bit of instructing in that background. We have wonderful Doctors of the Church, who are women and have touched us with their instructions and teachings, sacrifice and love. I don’t understand why women can’t imitate these holy women and teach their daughters to do the same.

    There have been several occassions, where I have helped priests behind the scenes. I speak up when necessary, but privately. If a priest asks my help or advice, I keep it to myself. I am a woman and to not have women on the Altar at all would be just fine with me. Others are entitled to their own opinions.

    My mother had a sign hanging in her kitchen whem I was a teenager. The sign said,

    “Behind every successful man stands a woman telling him that he is wrong” ;)

  120. Tina in Ashburn says:

    If anyone is in doubt of how well the Catholic Church treats women, simply compare non-Christian cultures with cultures rooted in Catholicism. The non-Catholic cultures are far cruel to women and their freedoms. Burka, anyone?

  121. ASD says:

    How can girls serve the parish community if they can’t be altar servers? You’ve got to be kidding me.

    In the first place, let’s be real: given the way altar servers perform at NO Masses now, there really isn’t much service involved. They shuffle up, act confused, stand around, hustle over with a missal when they get an obvious cue. It’s ridiculous.

    Service for girls. A short list, based to some extent on my daughter’s activities:

    (1) help your kid brothers learn Confiteor; (some day she can teach her own youngsters);
    (2) help your Mom keep your baby sister settled during Mass;
    (3) watch some small children before Mass while their parents go to confession;
    (4) sing in the choir;
    (5) go with your Dad to visit old Mr. Smith who can’t get to Mass these days;
    (6) be a babysitter for the Women’s Bible Study group;

    I’m not a sociologist and I haven’t studied this question in depth. But to me it *seems* obvious that the decline in vocations is related to the fact that being a priest just isn’t anything special now. If you’re a reasonably astute youngster attending NO Masses now, then you can see that Father doesn’t do much of anything that virtually any local lady can’t do. Similarly, being an altar boy isn’t anything special either: wear a funny robe and shuffle up there with Cindy. Yawn.

  122. LCB says:

    I am not Spartacus,

    When you are insulting to a poster because of her gender, it makes us all loom very bad and perpetuates false sterotypes about those with traditional leanings. Please don’t.

  123. Gladiatrix says:

    I have to agree in part with Kit, the Catholic Church has treated women so badly in the past that HH John Paul II felt the need to make a public apology.

    It is also ALWAYS worth remembering that the books which currently make up the Bible were edited by men, and that female academics who have pointed out that there is substantial evidence of deliberate physical interference with some of the older books to change the references to women have been subjected to serious professional penalties for doing so. Particularly Catholic female academics, at least one of whom lost her teaching licence for doing no more than telling the truth.

    Christ’s treatment of and attitude to his mother, Mary Magdalen, and Mary and Martha; and Paul’s acceptance of at least two women as his most senior assistants does not appear to be reflected in current Catholic doctrine or behaviour.

    I must admit to some personal anger on this subject, as two female members of my father’s family (Irish Catholic) were very badly treated by members of the Catholic clergy.

    Finally, the keyholders of the Temple in Jerusalem were always female – because they did not go off to war, thus continuation of worship could be guaranteed.

    A little more respect for and consideration of women by the Catholic Church would go a long way.

  124. I am not Spartacus says:

    When you are insulting to a poster because of her gender, it makes us all loom very bad and perpetuates false sterotypes about those with traditional leanings. Please don’t.

    LCB In response to angry and unjustified denunciations it is justified, it seems to me, to respond with humor – even sarcasm

    The female wrote – Your entire religion is based on the principle that girls have cooties.

    There are those of us with traditional leanings who think such an accusation would have to have a dozen weather balloons attached to it just for it to rise to the level of absurdity.

    I am never defensive when it comes to those who clearly hate me and my Church. I’d rather have fun in the face of such enmity.

  125. I am not Spartacus says:

    Particularly Catholic female academics, at least one of whom lost her teaching licence for doing no more than telling the truth.

    Who is she and what truth was she telling?

  126. We changed our parish over to altar boys alone a couple of years ago also. The reaction was harsh in the beginning, but it eventually calmed down. Keep the course Fathers!

    Our website explains the decision: http://www.stmarynorwalk.net/index.html
    see Why do we reserve altar serving to boys alone?

  127. RBrown says:

    I have to agree in part with Kit, the Catholic Church has treated women so badly in the past that HH John Paul II felt the need to make a public apology.

    Do you recall JPII making a public apology for low grade Protestant liturgy, poor formation in seminaries and religious orders, incompetent catechesis, and bad priests (in both senses)?

    I don’t.

    It is also ALWAYS worth remembering that the books which currently make up the Bible were edited by men, and that female academics who have pointed out that there is substantial evidence of deliberate physical interference with some of the older books to change the references to women have been subjected to serious professional penalties for doing so. Particularly Catholic female academics, at least one of whom lost her teaching licence for doing no more than telling the truth.

    The best Scripture prof at the Gregoriana in Rome is a lay woman.

    Christ’s treatment of and attitude to his mother, Mary Magdalen, and Mary and Martha; and Paul’s acceptance of at least two women as his most senior assistants does not appear to be reflected in current Catholic doctrine or behaviour.

    I must admit to some personal anger on this subject, as two female members of my father’s family (Irish Catholic) were very badly treated by members of the Catholic clergy.

    And what about the men who say they were poorly treated in grade school by sisters (often Sisters of Mercy)?

    Everyone has horror stories, including yours truly.

    Finally, the keyholders of the Temple in Jerusalem were always female – because they did not go off to war, thus continuation of worship could be guaranteed.

    A little more respect for and consideration of women by the Catholic Church would go a long way.
    Comment by Gladiatrix

    Once again: Everyone has horror stories.

  128. Kit says:

    I want to thank those of you who responded to my quite intemperate post. (Moral: Never post a blog comment at 11 p.m. on the day a major appliance breaks.) I still disagree with Catholic ecclesiology and the traditionalist view of women, but you responses were much more reasoned than my original post deserved.

  129. Gladiatrix says:

    I am sorry but I do not see what HH John Paul II’s apology for the Church not appreciating women as it should have has to do with Protestant teaching.

    I admit I cannot remember the female academic’s name, although I can her photo clearly in my mind’s eye. As I recall her thesis was about the teaching on the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalen.

    The treatment of my relatives did not occur in school but much later in life and I am not going to breach their confidence, but it was very serious and in one case very nearly caused real harm.

  130. Tim says:

    Many of these comments reflect the errors of our times and an utter lack of Faith and/or knowledge of the faith. First of all one can say that it is a foregone conclusion that most people don’t even know the simplest precepts of the Holy Catholic Faith nowadays. Thanks in part to even the liturgical changes which have served only to reinforce that lack of faith. Some will say that all the erroneous notions and heretical ideas going around nowadays sprang from the introduction of the New Ordo mass and all its aberrations. I would disagree, saying that the New Ordo mass and all its aberrations sprang from the erroneous notions and heretical ideas. Of Course! What came first the idea or the fact? The egg or the chicken? All the protestantization of the liturgy was only a naturally flowing consequence of the already existing destructive modernist ideas that were so rigorously condemned by St. Pius X and all the popes throughout the 19th century. If one wants to check oneself out to see if one is still a Catholic, one only has to compare his (that means women included) thinking to the syllabus of errors of the modernists to see if there is any affinity. If one finds affinity with any of those errors, he (again women included) is obliged to immediately reject any and all of those errors in order to remain Catholic and to be able to save ones’ soul. Tragically, modernism has infected even many clergy and hierarchy, and to such an extent that all types of abominations are tacitly being permitted to take place in the church, liturgy no exception.

  131. dance! says:

    Wow, I love being Catholic! Girl altar servers–you go, girls!! Communion in the hand–yeah! Women holding the majority of positions on parish staffs (well, more accurately, women doing most of the church’s work, and being among the best educated ministers!)! Liturgical dance! Baked communion bread! The best music that any church offers! The LA Religious Ed Congress–unbelievable! And more…

    I love that I grew up in a Vatican II church, and it definitely made faith alive for me. I’ve worked for over 25 years for the church, and have had the richest ministry experiences that I could ever dream of.

    I disagree with most of the posts here, but I feel nothing but hope and joy. I am more confident than ever in the Vatican II church; and I believe that the efforts to turn things backwards, rooted in fear, are simply–well, the death throes of an institution desperately in need of a resurrection! Alleluia!

  132. Maureen says:

    Re: women in choirs

    We don’t know the early history of church music in detail, folks, so we don’t know where and when various customs solidified. It seems certain that, early on, women and men were both singing the psalms and spiritual songs; but we’re not sure exactly in what way and where and when and why. But in fact Tertullian saw as one of the chief beauties of Christian marriage, that one would then always have somebody to sing the psalms with at home. :)

    But also very early on, we see the pattern of the synagogues and the Temple repeated in the earliest Christian churches — men and women did not usually sit together. This was nothing particularly strange, since different groups of men and of women also had their appointed places: consecrated widows and virgins (up front), deacons, public penitents, women with young kids, catechumens, etc. Catechumens, non-Christians and so forth didn’t even stay in church during the whole Mass.

    So it wasn’t all that strange to have separate places for men and women, or separate roles, when there were separate roles for just about everybody in attendance. Rather, the early Christians might argue that we have such lack of consideration for individual dignity as to lump everyone together as just plain congregation.

    Certainly, the existence of eunuchs on the eastern side of the Empire seems to have affected things fairly early on. More healthily, boys could also provide high parts for choirs while training for church and/or secular careers. But young girls were trained by nuns and canonesses in much the same way, from the earliest times. This tradition has been largely lost in these days of mixed choirs.

    But yes, there were plenty of women choirs, and Mass music written for women singers, before Trent. They were used in female religious orders, both those of nuns (vowed) and canonesses (not vowed, able to leave and marry whenever they wished). In fact, singing the Hours and Mass was a particular important job for such orders, and there were plenty of female cantors (cantrices).

    You would think that mixed orders, like the Brigittines, would have had mixed choirs. But actually, the Brigittine monks and priests alternated singing the Hours and Mass with the Brigittine nuns. The Brigittine nuns also sang settings and material that was completely their own, composed for them by their founder.

    The innovation was having mixed choirs all the time and at the parish level. Naturally, this was going on informally, by necessity, or by special permission in various places before Trent formally okayed it. There was also a sudden cessation of permission for women to sing Mass at one point, because of abuses. It’s a very complicated history.

    I am shocked that anyone would consider normal parish work as “drudgework” and serving Mass as… well, as not. Honestly, if you’re looking for drudgery (albeit with religious meaning), there’s nothing like a server. Lift that candle! Tote that tray! Be at some man’s beck and call, day and night and oh-dark-thirty!

    Yeah, that’s a model for liberated women to follow. Amusing.

  133. Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe says:

    “The commitment by parish boys to altar service is proof that it’s right to reserve it for boys, she said. When girls were allowed to be servers, it became less popular among boys. Now that it’s a thing for boys only, they revel in it. [Of course!]”

    Gee, Fr. Z. Just like you. No wimmin’ in the club. [Oh dear! Busted. Yah… that’s right. We look at this whole thing like a club. Couldn’t fool you! – Fr. Z]

    “The boys meet weekly with priests for training, spiritual growth and outings as the group, St. Michael Altar Guild, a practice that strengthens their ties to the church and parish community, she said. Girls, too, meet regularly and do things “more appropriate for girls.”

    Sure lots of ironing to do…let the boys have all the fun and learn to really love the Mass while the wimmin’ are once again stuck cleaning the place.

    Try not to be too surprised if the young girls figure out that Jesus Christ could really give a flip who hands the priest the cruet. Try to realize that some of them may see you “only boys can hand the cruet to the priest” crowd as people they might decide they don’t want to associate with. They’ll lose out on the Eucharist, for sure…but they might not raise their own children as Catholics because the 10-year-old-boy crowd prevailed and the boys wanted to wear all the lace. Whatever dudes. I’m sure it’s really worth it to you to potentially alienate 50% of Mass goers (not all of whom would be women either.) Go ahead, win your little boys club battle. The girls serving Mass in that parish aren’t worth worrying about. Just silly little girls anyway. Why should they want to serve Mass? Why they must, obviously want penises too.

    [Do you people listen to yourselves?]

  134. dance! says:

    As a matter of fact, the girls’ group (at a neighboring parish that banned girls as altar servers) meets regularly to crochet and bake. Oh, and in the latest parish bulletin, another activity included is to clean and tidy up the new youth center.

    Way to form our girls! At least the youth minister could turn a bad and unjust situation into something good by teaching the girls about leadership, justice, theology, women role models in our church, etc. But crocheting, baking, and cleaning up after the boys?

    Those poor girls are going to end up marrying those altar boys one day and be made to have 10 children and home school them, no doubt! [This simply drags this whole discussion into silliness. If nothing better than this can be contributed I will start deleting comments. – Fr. Z]

  135. Tim H says:

    “Those poor girls are going to end up marrying those altar boys one day and be made to have 10 children and home school them, no doubt!”
    My daughters should be so lucky!

  136. Matthew says:

    It seems to me that those outraged at the ban on altar girls justify their use based on social issues (which are highly subjective and subject to change) and atmospheres rather than christology and sound theology. Given that, and given the atmosphere amongst younger Catholics and newly-ordained priests, I don’t forsee the legality of the use of altar girls for much longer. It is obviously a concession made by the Vatican, quite like communion in the hand and a number of other things. John Paul II, and now Benedict, have been working slowly over the years to win over hearts and turn things around, and it seems to me that within a generation or two, the last brick in their “brick by brick” process of developing continuity, will have taken place.

  137. AnAnonymousSeminarian says:

    Jill and dance!,

    Holy Mother Church knows best. Those of us who are calling for the reform of the reform, for the reintroduction of the Extraordinary Form, and for the gradual cessation of liturgical aberrations such as girl altar boys and Communion in the hand aren’t simply trying to “go back.” We are ever moving forward, and sometimes that means abandoning the failed experiments of previous generations. Like the individual Christian, the Church is constantly reforming herself.

    Regarding women (note the correct English spelling here) on the altar: nobody has the right to serve at the liturgy, even the ordained; it is always a privilege given by the Church (see the article I link to below). The purpose of acolytes are to assist the priest, and as minor clergy, must be male. The altar boys are substitutes where there are not enough acolytes; thus it is proper that they too be male.

    It is interesting that parishes that implement programs such as Knights of the Altar often have no problem finding and keeping altar boys. I encourage you to read this link.

    Admittedly, suggesting that it is proper that only the girls should do things like cleaning up the youth center is bull dust… if the boys are growing into real men, they should be glad to help. Yet asking that the girls assist an altar sodality to care for liturgical linens and vestments (and things like the flowers around the altar) should not be considered degrading, because everyone sees their work every day at Mass. I feel terribly sorry for you if you find it to be so.

    The Holy Spirit seems to be moving the Church in this direction. Who am I to stifle the Spirit?

  138. dance! says:

    I just need to clarify, the U.S. bishops have declared in the 2003 General Instruction on the Roman Missal that “men, women, boys, or girls” may be invited as altar servers. You can access that document at http://www.usccb.org. It simply is not true that they must be male. However, it is true that choosing boys only or boys and girls is a pastoral decision, left to the discretion of the bishop and/or priest. What the priests are doing in Mazomanie is “legal.” That doesn’t mean it’s right or good or necessarily pleasing to God.

  139. AnAnonymousSeminarian says:

    dance!,

    What the priests are doing in Mazomanie is “legal.” That doesn’t mean it’s right or good or necessarily pleasing to God.

    That argument cuts both ways. If you replace “priests in Mazomanie” with “U.S. bishops,” it could be equally true.

    Girls and women serving at the altar is an aberration that was permitted, but under some odd circumstances (see Larry’s 26 Jun post), and that is lacking both in theological and historical justification. For that reason I cheer the decision of the priests in Mazomanie.

  140. dance! says:

    In closing, I need to reiterate, I LOVE being Catholic! While I’m saddened by the decisions of our Bishop in Madison and the Priests of the Society of Jesus the Priest, and though I must travel some distance for a nourishing worship experience, my faith is not shaken. I stand on different ground than many of you, but it is holy ground, nonetheless–and it is definitely Catholic. I hope and pray that no matter where the Holy Spirit leads our Church, it will be toward matters of the heart, and that we won’t get stuck in matters of the law. Tradition is not our god, after all, God is.

    Amen.

  141. dance! says:

    PS: Site moderator, are you the only one allowed to be “silly” or sarcastic (or condescending, I’ve observed) on this forum? I guess this post, too, will be deleted…

    And on it goes… [If this is going to be the level of discourse here, then I’l play along. Yes, I am the only one. See ya! – Fr. Z]

  142. Jordanes says:

    Those poor girls are going to end up marrying those altar boys one day and be made to have 10 children and home school them, no doubt!

    She says that like marriage, children, large families, and teaching one’s children are evil.

  143. dance! says:

    Off with her head!!!

    Wow Jordanes, I said that? Evil?? My oh my. See, this is how truth gets distorted.

    Enough of this. It’s a bit addicting–I can’t help but keep checking in! But it’s become an unhelpful distraction for me today, and I’m sure Fr. Z would rather I exit for good. [Hardly. The “I’m taking my ball and bat and going home!” approach is not necessary. However, I would rather people not post if they are going to drag entries down endless rabbit holes of bickering. – Fr. Z]

    God bless us, every one!

  144. Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe says:

    “[Hardly. The “I’m taking my ball and bat and going home!” approach is not necessary. However, I would rather people not post if they are going to drag entries down endless rabbit holes of bickering. – Fr. Z]”

    Fr. Z. with all due respect you do not “call” people who buy your party line when they get out of line. [You must have an image of me sitting at my computer, repeatedly hitting the refresh button so that I can analyze every comment. Nope.] For instance (just to pick one) AnAnonymousSeminarian can say deprecating things like “girl altar boys” and that’s just hunky dory with you. [Well.. I don’t personally have too much problem with that, since I don’t think the service of girls at the altar is a good idea, but I can see why some people might say that it shouldn’t be put that way.] You have said in the past on another post that “the discussion *needs* to go ‘x’ way.” It’s quite one thing for a practicing Catholic to be expected to toe the party line on actual doctrine. But just because something is a custom, doesn’t mean that in some cases the custom is now counterproductive. If there are enough seminarians around to serve Mass. Well and good, they should. But in parish churches there simply aren’t. Either “the laity” are equal, or they’re not. [Sure they are “equal” in terms of dignity, but they are not “identical” in their roles, either as men or women nor with the clergy.] I never notice people whining on your blog re: women helping take up the collection, or count it, or locking up when needed … all traditionally jobs of the porter. But we’ll NEVER see a comment about “all those evil misguided women helping count the collection.” Nor will we. The minor orders are simply GONE as per ’69 or 70. Get over it. [FYI… this whole strand in this thread is now over. Rabbit hole. I am now finishing with someone griping about how unfair my blog is. Go start your own and run it the way you want.]

    In my growing up years girls were NON-EXISTENT as far as most priests were concerned. [So, we are back to someone’s personal experience being made the standard for the Church and the perspective on girls everywhere. Okay.] One of the few whose name I remember was Fr. Krimm, a Redemptorist of late and happy memory, in the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Salem, Va. in the mid-1960s. He *did* allow the girls to do what they could when the NO came in. He let the sodality girls bring up the gifts especially once a month. The man spent *time* with us, leading our sodality meetings and didn’t treat as as junior washerwomen in training. He looked after our SPIRITUAL formation. Is ironing the altar cloths a labor of love? You bet it is, and I’ve done that chore too. But it’s not the best way to attract a young girl when she might get the idea that a priest only sees women as being the only ones doing the scut work. In other words, there is nothing particularly inspiring when Fr. says “Johnny, come here while I tell you all about why incense is used and how to use it – oh, Suzie, not you, go iron with your mother.” [That’s the way it goes, I guess. Would you feel better if he made the boys go iron too? Would that have solved the problem?] Fr. Krimm will forever be in my prayers for realizing that the girls had some brains and were worth spending time with too. He treated us like Mary instead of Martha. Martha is needed too, but Mary chose the better part, and some of you are denying her. If Jesus had treated women like some of you do, I don’t think I’d have kept the faith.

    Yeah, singing in a choir for girls can be nice, but not all can carry a tune. And quite a few of your posters would even deny the ones who can sing. God knows why, there being a shortage of castrati.

    [Altar girls were introduced as a liturgical abuse. Thus, it was an act of injustice against the girls. They were instrumentalized to violate the Church’s law. There are also good practical reasons why the service of girls at the altar, permitted now by law, should only be applied in very narrow circumstances and why boys should always be preferred. Furthermore, the Church’s guidelines on this stress the importance of the tradition of male service and that it is to be preferred. That’s just the way it is. Sorry. If I were pastor of your parish, you might see that I have a somewhat broader understanding of the role of women in the Church, but this is a blog, not a parish. I won’t let it be derailed.]

  145. Okay… that’s it. The last comment, now deleted, got personal. The poster is now gone from the blog. I am shutting down the combox.