New books argues concerning TLM and Communion in the hand, altar girls

A reader alerted me to an article on kreutz.net which deals with Communion in the hand at celebrations of Holy Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum, and the employment of altars girls.

I don’t have time to translate it from German right now.

Apparently a canon lawyer named Wolfgang F. Rothe, has put out a study of Summorum Pontificum Liturgische Versöhnung.

The book has a preface by Msgr. Camille Perl, Vice President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".

Perhaps someone who has a little time can drill into this and help the readers.

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM. Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to New books argues concerning TLM and Communion in the hand, altar girls

  1. Krista says:

    From the article:

    Der Autor stellt darum fest, daß der Einsatz von Ministrantinnen und die Handkommunion in der Alten Liturgie auf gewohnheitsrechtlicher Grundlage verboten sind.

    I quickly perused the article and one the key phrases of interest seems to lie in the above paragraph.

    Therefore, the author strongly represents that the (operation or panel) of (couldn’t translate without a proper dictionary) and communion in the hand in the old liturgy on the basis customary law
    are forbidden. If I get some more time later, I’ll translate more.

  2. Victor says:

    A translation of the publisher’s announcement at http://tinyurl.com/qt52g2 (and I apologize for the bad quality):

    [two quotes from the Holy Father which are left out here]

    The comprehensive commentary to the pope’s letter concerning the extraordinary form of the roman rite!

    * In what relationship do the two forms of the Roman rite stand to each other?
    * When and where may the “old mass” be celebrated?
    * Which requirements are to be given?
    * Which faculties do the bishops and the local parish priests have?
    * Are communion in the hand, extraordinary ministers of the holy eucharist and female altar servers allowed?
    * Is it licit to administer the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Anointing of the Sick and Marriage in the traditional form?

    These and all questions relevant for study and practical use are explained by:
    [follows the book title]

  3. Matt Q says:

    Interesting to say the least. There’s a German correspondent over at New Liturgical Movement. Hopefully he will be making an observation of this book.

    Perhaps this may be a variation of the Clarifications we were looking for all this time and never got it. The author’s writings though would be only academic since Rome didn’t issue it, so who would pay attention to it except us in the “Choir?” I suppose it wouldn’t matter anyway. Rome says a lot of things and people just roll their eyes and carry on.

  4. Victor says:

    A quick translation of the article (which is, by the way, coming from a horrible website, quite similar to a “catholic” yellow-press paper, and really shoud not be quoted, although it can be fun to read it…)

    It is not licit to have female altar servers and to receive Holy Communion with the hands at the “Old Mass”, said Rev. Wolfgang F. Rothe, renowned canonist, in his most recent book “Liturgical Reconciliation”.

    The tome is a canonical commentary to the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum” for academical and practical use.

    In the past, well-known theologians and canonists – amongst them Rev. Bertram Stubenrauch from Munich, scholar in Dogmatics – basically have demanded that certain liturgical “achievements” like female altar servers and Communion in the hand must be introduced into the traditional liturgy.

    But the new book’s author proves now that, usually, it is exactly “because they reject liturgial practices like female altar servers and communion in the hand – especially because these were often introduced contra legem and legitimized only ex post”.

    Accordingly, it is to be assumed that in masses celebrated after the Missal of 1962, from time immemorial no female altar servers were introduced and communion in the hand was not practised.

    Thus, the author states that the introduction of altar girls and communion in the hand during the Old Liturgy are prohibited based on customary law.

    The book was published with a preface by the vice-president of the Papal Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, prelate Camille Perl.

    The Prelate calls the book a “remarkable commentary” which is of use especially for the shepherds of the Church, “in the first place parish priests, but also bishops”.

  5. Victor says:

    Sorry, one of the sentences got cropped during translation. It should read as follows:

    But the new book’s author proves now that, usually, it is exactly “because they reject liturgial practices like female altar servers and communion in the hand – especially because these were often introduced contra legem and legitimized only ex post” that believers turned to the Old Rite.

  6. I firmly belive girls should still be allowed to be altar servers. Note:
    this is my personal opinion, that of the webmaster of the ICKSP Blog.
    I belive Communion in the hand should be outlawed as fast as possible though.
    If there is a Catholic Dogma in my way, I will back out, but otherwise
    this is my opinion.

  7. I am very uncomfortable with altar girls. I do think that it is best for priests to have an altar boy, as a kind of “mini me.” That’s not theology, by the way. Just my gut feeling!

  8. Because of my Blog’s name, I will reply to my own post:

    I spoke for myself. I did NOT, repeat, did NOT speak for the
    Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

  9. Danby says:

    There is no canonical reason to exclude girls from serving at the altar There is however a very practical reason. Girls at the altar drive away boys. If you have not noticed, when altar girls are introduced in a parish, the supply of altar boys dries up. Since altar boys form the pool from which priests emerge, altar girls cannot have anything but a deleterious effect on the vocations crisis.

    Is there any reason, outside of straight feminism that one would want girls, rather than boys, serving at altar? Remember, it is largely a question of one or the other, not both.

  10. I am not Spartacus says:

    1970 Liturgicae Instaurationes

    7. In conformity with norms traditional in the Church, women (single, married, religious), whether in churches, homes, convents, schools, or institutions for women, are barred from serving the priest at the altar.

    1980 Inaestimabile Donum

    18. There are, of course, various roles that women can perform in the liturgical assembly: these include reading the Word of God and proclaiming the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. Women are not, however, permitted to act as altar servers

    While we did have those 2000 + years of Tradition, it is important not to forget that we now have a tradition of 16 years of allowing girls to be altar servers.

    Maybe, after 1984 (interesting number that) more years of the new tradition, we will reconsider the change.

  11. I am not Spartacus says:

    ++++++++++++++++ begin quotes +++++++++++++++++++++

    Can. 230 §1. Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte.

    Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.

    §2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.

    §3. When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside offer liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion, according to the prescripts of the law.

    ++++++++++++++++ end quotes ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Given 2000+ years of the tradition that we only had male altar servers; given the reality of the documents I already posted; given the reality that altar girls were imposed upon the Faithful in a act of direct disobedience to the Universal Jurisdiction of the Pope, I do not understand why the PCILT couldn’t have come to a different decision.

    To my way of thinking, when disobedience is rewarded, one only encourages more disobedience.

  12. I was recently talking to my parish priest about this very issue. Although he dislikes the concept of female altar servers, his rationale for having them was that they were greatly more reliable than their male counterparts. He says that the boys on the parish list often never showed when scheduled, and not infrequently arrived late into the liturgy. The girls were much more enthusiastic about serving, whereas the boys half-heartedly executed out their tasks with little devotion.

    Another problem, especially here, is the widespread public association of priests as pederasts. I read a letter to the newspaper recently by a mother of an altar boy, who, as a result of the sex scandals, was so untrusting of her priest that as soon as Mass was finished she would stand outside the sacristy so as to ensure that the priest did not take advantage of her son. I would not envy the priest who announces to his congregation his intention to stop the practice of female servers with their replacement with boys.

  13. Berthold says:

    The debate on Altar Girls in Old Rite has been going on for quite a while. I am actually wondering if there has ever been a case of traditionally minded ladies who wanted to be servers at an Old-Rite Mass; the ones I know are even more strictly against female servers than most men.

    With Holy Communion in the hand the situation is a bit different. It seems obvious to me that its introduction was not beneficial to the understanding of the Eucharist; and it is clearly incompatible with the Tridentine Rite, in which the utmost care is taken that no Particles are lost. Faithful who are familiar with this form of the Roman Rite will soon see that Communion in the Hand just makes little sense in it, and so they won’t ask for it. If, however, someone comes for the first time and in good faith asks for Communion on the Hand, would it really be pastorally sensitive to deny it?

    On a more general level, Summorum opened quite a lot of issues that do need clarification; although it may be better to wait for a few years until things have settled down.
    Just to give an example: If the Roman Rite has two forms; do new churches have to be built so that both forms can be celebrated in them? Can vessels or altars that are allowed for the New Rite also can be used in the Old Rite even if they do not fulfil its conditions (e.g. a not consecrated portable altar without altar-stone?) [I hope yes, otherwise quite a few places will be in trouble].
    Are practices like the weekly renewal of Holy Water obligatory in places which have an Old-Rite Mass every Sunday, or only in places where this form is celebrated exclusively?

    I would wonder if any of these questions are treated in this book.

  14. Berthold says:

    The debate on Altar Girls in Old Rite has been going on for quite a while. I am actually wondering if there has ever been a case of traditionally minded ladies who wanted to be servers at an Old-Rite Mass; the ones I know are even more strictly against female servers than most men.

    With Holy Communion in the hand the situation is a bit different. It seems obvious to me that its introduction was not beneficial to the understanding of the Eucharist; and it is clearly incompatible with the Tridentine Rite, in which the utmost care is taken that no Particles are lost. Faithful who are familiar with this form of the Roman Rite will soon see that Communion in the Hand just makes little sense in it, and so they won\’t ask for it. If, however, someone comes for the first time and in good faith asks for Communion on the Hand, would it really be pastorally sensitive to deny it?

    On a more general level, Summorum opened quite a lot of issues that do need clarification; although it may be better to wait for a few years until things have settled down.
    Just to give an example: If the Roman Rite has two forms; do new churches have to be built so that both forms can be celebrated in them? Can vessels or altars that are allowed for the New Rite also can be used in the Old Rite even if they do not fulfil its conditions (e.g. a not consecrated portable altar without altar-stone?) [I hope yes, otherwise quite a few places will be in trouble].
    Are practices like the weekly renewal of Holy Water obligatory in places which have an Old-Rite Mass every Sunday, or only in places where this form is celebrated exclusively?

    I would wonder if any of these questions are treated in this book.

  15. CDN_Canonist says:

    I am not Spartacus,

    “To my way of thinking, when disobedience is rewarded, one only encourages more disobedience.”

    Odd, this is the same line of argumentation raised by those opposed to the lifting of the SSPX excommunications. In both instances, however, the Church was not rewarding disobedience.

    Whether or not you like female altar servers, they are unquestionably permitted by the law. This was determined by an authentic interpretation (6 June 1994), which has the same force as the law itself (c. 16).

  16. Cortney says:

    About altar girls, here’s my opinion. We have a tremendous shortage of priests. One reason may be that there is a shortage of altar boys. The priesthood is (or should be) a manly calling in all the best senses of the word. Altar boys learn what it’s like to be priests by serving at Mass in an atmosphere that does not include the presence of altar girls (who often learn quicker and so intimidate the boys and whose presences change the “feeling” in the sanctuary). There are so many ways that girls can serve in their parishes other than by being altar servers. Women will never be priests (please God) and so having girls as altar servers seems to be a trail that leads nowhere. But altar boys who are well instructed are empowered to serve in a unique way and some may consider the priestly vocation. In our parish several young men who have been trained and now serve with reverence at the EF Masses are considering a vocation. They are aglow, and beautiful to behold.

  17. MAJ Tony says:

    CDN Canonist: Female altar servers may be permitted but they are not required to be allowed. The bishop doesn’t have to allow them (i.e. Bruskewitz) nor does a particular pastor have to accept them in his parish. Of course, that’s not to say that a pastor might not be the recipient of the bishop’s displeasure if said bishop was adamant about having female altar servers, and the resultant treatment that could ensue. I’m not casting aspersions at any particular ordinary, but such things have been said to occur in different places and times.

  18. Ottaviani says:

    I am actually wondering if there has ever been a case of traditionally minded ladies who wanted to be servers at an Old-Rite Mass…

    A contradiction in terms like a “chaste prostitute”…

    From the looks of it, this book seems to be sound and logical in its reasoning and hopefully will be a rebuttal of the tricks used by liberals (and sadly some neo-cons) to try and muck up the integrity of the old rite. Under the cloak of “obedience to the current legislation” they hide their deceitful intentions. Its time that Rome shows itself serious about it’s liturgical legislations to the bishops’ conferences or motu proprio will be another ignored letter, gathering dust in the attic.

  19. Peter says:

    Let’s just hope that there is no episcopal intervention in some diocese somewhere to attempt to ‘require’ female servers at the EF. Sadly, it is possible, either through ignorance or malice.

    In Australia the practice of having altar girls assist at the OF has become de rigeur. Even otherwise orthodox and quite conservative Catholics see no problem with this. The very air we breathe has been inculcated with the [never to be challenged] premise that women have an inalienable right to do whatever men can.

    I would also make a tangential link to the recent discussion about who may assist in the role of subdeacon at Solemn Mass in the EF. There were many posters who thought it would be preferable to have a single man than a married one, and (it seemed to me) this was more important than the man being instituted as an acolyte under the current Code of Canon law (the so-called ‘straw subdeacon’). I would submit that the former is far more important as it recognises and complies with current law, and the latter may be seen as analogous to the altar girl argument – squeezing into a role under cover of ‘no express or a priori prohibition’.

    Lastly, I often think that the late John Paul II’s accession to this altar girl innovation was the single most imprudent act of his pontificate. It will take a very long time to but that genie back in the bottle.

  20. Fr. F says:

    No priest is required to have girls serve at the altar, even if the Bishop of the diocese has approved girls to serve in his diocese. It is always the right of the pastor and the priest celebrating the Mass to refuse admission of girls to service at the altar. CFS July 27, 2001

    “In accord with the above cited instructions of the Holy See such an authorization may not, in any way, exclude men or, in particular, boys from service at the altar, nor require that priests of the diocese would make use of female altar servers, since “it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar”"

    For the whole text, see: http://www.adoremus.org/CDW-AltarServers.html

    As for communion in the hand, I don’t know. But I will not allow it until the Holy See has spoken otherwise.

    I knew the liberals would try to destroy the Extraordinary Form. They would love to bring Liturgical abuse into the EF, we can’t let it happen. We depend on the Holy Father to clarify all of these points.

  21. Well spoken Fr. F! I think you’ve said it the best.

  22. Vernon says:

    Females look ridiculous in cassock and cotta, and all servers look ridiculous in the pseudo albs that are these days almost exclusively worn at NO Masses.

    The hair and shoe styles of females are also most distracting to the congregation. All also good reasons why females should not serve on the Sanctuary.

  23. Geoffrey #2 says:

    ICK Blog,

    Why on a theological level do you think it necessary, or rather “firmly believe”, that altar girls should be admitted/allowed?

    If that in any way is representative of your order, I’ll have to discontinue even the thought of donating any resources

  24. Peter says:

    A clarification to my earlier post.

    imho it is more important that a man assisting in the role of SD at the EF (who is not a SD, Deacon or Priest) be an instituted acolyte than considerations of single vs married.

  25. Joseph says:

    Victor

    I strongly disagree with your assessment, kreuz.net is a horrible web page. They are a thorn in the side of the Austrian and German episcopacy and remorselessly hound all progressives, who for years dragged the Catholic church down into the ground. you think here on the North American continent our church ails severely? It pales in comparison to the abuses faithfuls have to endure there. Kreuz.net is a necessary tool to combat the disintegration of the Catholic church in these desperate times. They are not very “gentlemanly” in their expressions and eviscerate all falsehoods wherever they find it. I am sure their editors are not without failings, but their intentions are the right ones.

  26. tzard says:

    The core of the argument seems to be that the prohibition of altar-girls or communion in the hand is based on “customary law”.

    I am not canonist, but doesn’t “Canon Law” trump customary law when explicitly stated? Remember that Canon law is legislative in nature and official interpretations of such, after it’s promulgated, are as binding as the original text.

  27. Gordon says:

    I am puzzled by comment of Geoffrey regards donations to Christ the King order following ICK Blog postings. The person posting under that name has made it quite clear he is not a member of said religious institute. That he is using that title is something of a mystery seeing it creates this very confusion in some ppl’s minds. I surprised that he is even allowed to use the title in the first place. Surley that order would have something to say about that. Altatboy girls are clearly an abuse as is communion in the hand. Unfortunateley both are all the rage just now. Any wonder our churches are near empty. Sadly too many clergy just don’t care to see this. Also they do not want to accept that the older form is actually easier to use. Far to many books for use in new form both with the mass and the Office.

  28. Geoffrey #2 says:

    Gordon,

    My sincerest thanks for the clarification — I am relatively new here so I didn’t realize that ICK Blog has no connection whatsoever to the order. For what it’s worth, I had thought he was an ICK priest or superior who had said opinions —

    Relieved that’s not the case

  29. Gil Ferguson says:

    /.”I firmly belive girls should still be allowed to be altar servers. Note:
    this is my personal opinion, I firmly belive girls should still be allowed to be altar servers, this is my personal opinion, that of the webmaster of the ICKSP Blog. I belive Communion in the hand should be outlawed as fast as possible though.
    If there is a Catholic Dogma in my way, I will back out, but otherwise
    this is my opinion.
    Comment by Institute of Christ the King Blog — 15 May 2009 @ 4:24 pm:.\

    If this is a real member of that order making that stateent about girl altar servers at the Holy TLM. after history has thought us of our sinful, lustful nature, then the true church, from this Traditionalist view is gone. May Holy God save us all… the Institute of Christ the King, the Holy True Church, and we are in mortal danger.

    Gil

  30. Mark says:

    My thoughts:

    “Altar girls” and communion on the hand are both untraditional, and should be immediately revoked. Anyone thinking they should be allowed at EF masses has an agenda. And even at OF masses, is clearly no trad. Believing that’s okay, but not communion in the hand…demonstrates an extremely inconsistent aesthetic, and probably philosophy, to say the least.

    The only place women traditionally sort of assist like that is cloistered nuns when the chaplain priest is the only male present. Moreso in the East than in the West, however.

    However, I also think the “altar boys as future priests” argument is dumb. First, because altar boys are un-ideal lay substitutes for true Acolytes in Minor Orders. Who, of course, are true clerics already, and must be men.

    Anyone who knows anything about boys will know that being forced to do something like that (usually by an overbearing mother)…will just come to resent it. I myself was never an altar boy, but I feel called to be a priest. Most of my guy friends considering a vocation were never altar boys. Most of the Catholic boys I know who were altar boys in grade-school, however…totally rebelled and lost the faith altogether. The service of the altar is not meant for brainwashing like that. It is an insult to the true order of Acolyte, an insult to the notion of vocation, and an insult to impressionable young boys.

    Finally, some 1950′s-externals trads will hate me for saying it, but the Alb is really a more logical garment for servers. Cassock-and-surplice is choir dress, but acolytes are true ministers serving the Mass, not merely attending in choir. In the middle ages, acolytes wore albs. Still in the East.

    I have seen some places where they make a compromise, where male servers are allowed cassock and surplice, but females only the alb, to try to distinguish that the one is substituting a true clerical role, but the other is merely a lay person acting extraordinarily or something like that. But this is ridiculous, as it is MORE presumptuous to give a female an actual vestment like an alb as opposed to just choir-dress (which some nuns, for example, do have a form of)…but hey, there is no logic to the novus ordo, just whatever “seems” good…so, who even cares anymore…

  31. Matt says:

    In his encyclical Allatae Sunt of 26 July 1755, Pope Benedict XIV explicitly condemned females serving the priest at the altar with the following words:

    “Pope Gelasius in his ninth letter (chap. 26) to the bishops of Lucania condemned the evil practice which had been introduced of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass. Since this abuse had spread to the Greeks, Innocent IV strictly forbade it in his letter to the bishop of Tusculum: “Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry.” We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft-repeated constitution Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 6, no. 21.”[3]

    Hopefully something similar from Benedict XVI and soon.

  32. Andrea says:

    Mark,

    I agree that boys should not be forced to serve, however, in my experience (almost 20 years in an EF Chaplaincy) most boys want to serve, if only because they then have something active to do. Our boys start as boat bearers, then “graduate” to torchbearers, acolytes, thurifer and then MC.
    I doubt very much if it was being forced to serve which caused the boys you knew to “rebel and lose their faith” but more to do with the education they were receiving.

  33. Martin says:

    Geoffrey #2

    Please do not worry about the ICK: “ICK blog” appears to be a troll. In fact, if you click his name, it turns out that the URL is invalid.
    He most likely is someone who wants to do harm to the good ICK.

    In Christo
    Martin

  34. Dr. Eric says:

    When I was a boy in the 80s there were not altar girls. When no one cared to serve at the altar, we were shamed by our parents for not going up to serve. Before the readings were through, there were always two boys who had donned the cassocks and albs to serve at the Mass, it was always a fight as to who would get to ring the bells and hold the Communion Plate. (We knelt at the rail to receive Communion. After Fr. Sense died, the abuses started to creep in.)

    Now, at my church here in Southern Illinois, in a different town, there are plenty of able bodied boys and young men of High School age who sit in the first couple of pews while pubescent girls serve at the altar. These are males who will never be priests as they have no desire to serve, or their opportunities have been taken away.

  35. teresa says:

    “These are males who will never be priests as they have no desire to serve, or their opportunities have been taken away.”

    And perhaps it is why so many females want to be “prietesses” now.

  36. Irregardless of law, here’s why an altar boys only policy is best:

    http://www.knoxlatinmass.net/gallery/4Easter2008/125_IMG_1030.jpg

    Anybody got a picture like this with altar girls in it?

  37. CDN_Canonist says:

    tzard,

    I haven’t read the book in question. I suspect the summary we have is misleading or incomplete. The prohibition on the use of female altar servers (until the authentic interpretation in 1994) was not a custom, but a law. The prohibition was stated explicitly in the 1917 Code and various other instructions of the Holy See. Some of these have been posted above.

    A later law abrogates an earlier law when it expressly states this, it is directly contrary to the earlier law, or it integrally reorders the whole subject matter of the earlier law (c. 20). Evidently, this occured with the authentic interpretation of 1994.

  38. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    It is not just about the priesthood. Here are Bishop Paul Loverde’s comments when the Diocese of Arlington first allowed girls to be altar servers: ‘Loverde said his decision, which could result in altar girls at some churches by Sunday, may help young women hear “the Lord’s call to religious life” as nuns.’

    That is certainly a laudable goal.

    Additional guidelines were provided by the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship at this link: usccb.org/liturgy/q&a/…

    I believe this is all intended to address the lack of volunteer altar boys in some diocese. Piety, maturity and interest in understanding the liturgy ought be the deciding factors when selecting Catholic girls and boys for altar service. This selection from Paul’s greeting in his letter to Romans is not precisely on point, but it does serve as a reminder of the important role women provided in the early formation of the Church:

    “And I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is in the ministry of the church, that is in Cenchrae: That you receive her in the Lord as becometh saints; and that you assist her in whatsoever business she shall have need of you. For she also hath assisted many, and myself also. Salute Prisca and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus, (Who have for my life laid down their own necks: to whom not I only give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles);” Rom. 16:1-4

    ~~~
    For those interested, Fr. Z (and many others) expressed views on this subject around this time last year at this link: wdtprs.com/blog/2008/05/tlm-dust-up…

  39. momof3boys says:

    Why my boys didn’t serve at our last parish:
    There were altar girls (and few boys); Mom asked them to; The liturgy was irreverent; The celebrant theatrical; The servers wore shorts and flip flops; Why bother.

    Why my boys serve at our current parish:
    Our pastor invited them to; Our pastor is a real man and a holy priest; The liturgy is True and Beautiful and Good; The servers are boys (or primarily boys); Our Lord is revered in and out of the tabernacle by all; The servers are trained and attired fittingly; Why not.

    What my boys say about serving the NO:
    It goes faster.

    What my boys say about serving the EF:
    My 6’2” 190lb star athlete who can double in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, or sack the quarterback in overtime with no sweat, trembles and shakes and sweats in awe of the sacrifice and the mystery of the liturgy that he feels privileged to assist at.

  40. TJM says:

    2 of the practices which has led me to abandon the Novus Ordo for the TLM. Sounds like a sabotage effort to me. TOm

  41. momof3boys says:

    I should add that all three know it is God who will call them to their vocations. Two feel a strong calling to the priesthood. Do I think that serving at Mass will make God’s call clearer? Absolutely.

  42. Romulus says:

    Fundamentally, this debate is about the right of the faithful to liturgy that’s faithful to the mind of the Church.

    For females to serve at the altar is wrong because it discourages vocations.

    It’s wrong because it subverts a sacramental understanding of the priesthood.

    It’s wrong because it subverts a sacramental understanding of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

    It’s wrong because it obscures the complementary sexual distinctiveness of men and women.

    It’s wrong because it disparages the dignity of womanhood as inadequate and unfulfilling.

    It’s wrong because it implants in girls futile expectations that cannot be fulfilled.

    It’s wrong because it misrepresents the participatio actuosa prescribed for the faithful as a call for lay busyness which easily strays into clericalism disparaging the role of lay faithful assisting quietly from the pew.

    It’s wrong because service in the sanctuary is misrepresented as an exercise of rights and of power, which is a false and alien hermeneutic for Christian relations.

  43. CDN_Canonist says:

    Romulus,

    Who determines the “mind of the Church,” if not the competent ecclesiastical authority? Whether or not you like female altar servers, they are permitted by the law. Consequently, a Mass at which females serve at the altar is “faithful to the mind of the Church.”

  44. Father Alex says:

    You should also know, that the author Wolfgang F. Rothe was involved in the Austrian scandal of the seminary of St. Pölten, because he was the vice rector in 2004. One year ago Pope Benedict XVI. personally confirmed the measures taken by bishop Klaus Küng within the Austrian diocese St. Pölten as a final reaction to this Austrian seminary scandal of 2004. Klaus Küng had been nominated Apostolic visitator by Pope John Paul II. In the official statement of the Austrian bishop from April 3rd, 2008, you find the clear attitude of Pope Benedict XVI.: “After the Apostolic visitation [in the Austrian diocese St. Pölten during 2004] and because of its results bishop Küng has adopted as first step the necessary measures, and afterwards – as the measures did not reach the aim – he has opened a disciplinary procedure against [each of the former seminarian directors] prelate Ulrich Küchl and Wolfgang F. Rothe. After all documents were checked again by the competent congregations of the Holy See, the measures taken by the diocesan bishop were confirmed as suitable, and all recourses [sent to the Holy See by the two priests] were rejected. The Pope has approved this decision of the congregations in forma specifica, i. e. he has made it to his own decision. Both priests are called to a spiritual reflection and have to follow the instructions of the diocesan bishop. Prelate Küchl will be definitely no longer in the office as parish priest of [the Austrian villages] Eisgarn und Eggern, and he is requested to renounce personally the office of provost. Otherwise his attitude will lead probably to the abolition of the collegiate community of Eisgarn. Concerning the diocese of St. Pölten, prelate Küchl will retire. There would be also the possibility of doing a priestly service in an other diocese, which should be appropriate to this situation, if he fulfills the necessary conditions. Rothe will lose definitely all offices, which he held in the diocese of St. Pölten. He remains priest of the diocese of St. Pölten and will receive – after a time of spiritual reflection – an appropriate duty in an other diocese. Both priests are first of all suspended from doing any priest’s service. If there is evidence of reflection, the suspension will be softened. And as the conditions for a new service as priests are reached, the suspension is to be taken away. Both – prelate Küchl and Rothe – will no longer be active in the area of education of seminarians.”

    Although today Rothe is no longer suspended, you should think about all this: that maybe such a private book could follow also other purposes, and it would be a great disadvantage, if someone wants to “use” the “Motu proprio” to get back to a certain career within the Church … So be careful always, and I think, that in the States there is greater sensibility with such circumstances!

  45. Joanne says:

    “also think the “altar boys as future priests” argument is dumb”

    “Dumb” is a strong word, but – the argument doesn’t resonate as true with me either. I have to believe that our vocations, to any state in life, are put in us by God. A man either has been given a vocation to the ministerial priesthood or or he hasn’t. A man who has a vocation will not be deterred from pursuing it. If he is for some reason, or is lukewarm, unsure, unmotivated, etc he seems unlikely to have a genuine vocation, and we are better off not seeing him ordained.

    If many priests have been altar boys, I have to think that that is because boys who will have a vocation emerge later in life are likely drawn to altar service as children or young men. And traditionally, altar boys and priests have been drawn from the same pool, haven’t they? Ie, males from faithful Catholic families. It only makes sense that there is overlap.

    For what reason other than “feminism” in the commonly used meaning of this word would someone be okay with girl altar servers? I guess I just plain fairness. It’s not a matter of “rights” to me, nor is it “agenda-driven” on my part – I don’t wish to see the ordination of women. But *if* there is no canonical impediment to their use, and some girls have the desire to do it, then I’d have to say it’s not really right to prevent them. Some boys will be deterred, I’m sure that’s true. Perhaps those deterred will be like those described above, who are half-hearted and show up late. And yes, EFs tend to have a large liturgical entourage that makes for nice photos. But Christ is present in the Eucharist whether there are 15 servers or none, male or female, and – wait for it – EF *or* OF. The Eucharist at an OF Mass should make us all tremble too, as it should during Eucharistic Adoration.

    In the interest of full disclosure: I was briefly an altar server in the late 1970s, when I was in 3rd grade. I think what drew me to it was simply that I just really loved being at church, I loved the Mass, the people of the parish, etc and wanted to assist on the altar. Romulus raises some interesting points, re: complementarity and dignity, but I have to disagree that it sets up false expectations among the girls who do it.

    I understand the preference for male altar servers (actually, I like that a priest I know uses older men as servers for the OF and daily EF Masses he offers). What I can’t relate to thankfully is the anger that so many traditionalists seem to feel about it. I stopped attending the EF parish near me a few months ago, and – apologies in advance if anyone is insulted by my saying this, but I’m just being honest, as many here are about their distaste for the OF and those who assist in it – threads like this one make me miss it far less than I might otherwise.

  46. Fr Alex, thank you for pointing that out, but I must confess that when you said that “maybe such a private book could follow also other purposes” I immediately thought of another, and much less noble, motivation than the one you suggested (“to get back to a certain career within the Church”). Given the very large numbers of you-know-what who have entered the priesthood in the last few decades, perhaps the indult for altar girls isn’t so bad after all.

  47. Paul says:

    I would reject female altar servers in the EF, as well as any attempt to introduce communion in the hand.

    With regard to the OF, perhaps requiring chapel veils or the hood on the albs for female altar servers, as well as female lectors, EEM’s or any female in the sanctuary may help to both reintroduce the chapel veil to the congregation as well as limit the number of female laity in non-traditional roles, while opening up and encouraging the participation for male laity in these areas of ministry? Just a thought…

  48. ssoldie says:

    For fifteen hundred years woman have not been allowed in the “Sanctuary’ (holy place) and they shouldnt be there now… The rites are NOT to be incorrerated, the ‘Gregorian Rite is one rite, the ‘Amborsian Rite’is suppose to be a rite of it’s own, and so is the ‘Mozarabic Rite’… The use of ‘ alter’ girls was an indult(a TEMPORARY favor granted by the holy See to bishops to permit them to do something NOT otherwise allowed) as was ‘communion in the hand. I really don’t care if they stay in the banel, and fabricated N.O.R.. What happened after the council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the ‘fruit’ of development came fabricated liturgy. “We abandoned the organic,living process of growth and development over centries, and replaced it-as in a manufacturing process-with a fabrication, a banal on -the-spot-product”.From the Preface to the French edition by Joseph Ratzenger of “The Reform of the Roman Liturgy”., as I have and will attend the ‘Gregorian Rite’ for as long as God allows me on this earth

  49. Romulus says:

    Dear CDN_Canonist: with all respect, you are mistaken. There is an essential difference between concessions that competent authority grudgingly tolerates and the ideal that it extols. No one can imply that the mind of the Church — much less the heart, which also counts — is indifferent between male and female altar servers. The Church knows and declares what she prefers, and every Catholic is called to embrace and honor this preference.

  50. Julia says:

    The information given by Fr. Alex is no longer topical: Fr. Rothe is meanwhile completly rehabilitated. Actually he works as a parish priest in Munich in Bavaria. This ist from an official statement given by the diocese of Munich on November 17th 2008: “The accusations against him (= Fr. Rothe) were thoroughly investigated both by the state und by the church. They were legally not relevant”.

  51. Good to hear Julia. I would like to retract my previous comment.

  52. Prester says:

    @Shane O’Neill

    “Given the very large numbers of you-know-what who have entered the priesthood in the last few decades, perhaps the indult for altar girls isn’t so bad after all.”

    Forgive my obtuseness, but what do you mean?

  53. Joanne says:

    Prester – I’m guessing he means sex predators who victimize young males…

    On a somewhat-related note, I think that one of the reasons fewer men are entering seminaries over the past few decades is that many/?most? homosexuals have come to live “out of the closet” so to speak and are therefore less liable to use the priesthood as an excuse to be unmarried and as a way to gain respectability. (I say “somewhat” because I don’t think all homosexuals who enter the priesthood prey on young people.)

  54. Father Alex says:

    My information was and is fully correct and true. As the Pope himself confirmed the decision to suspend Wolfgang F. Rothe only one year ago, it is logical, that his relation to one seminarian and his unchristian attitude to attack all the credible witnesses could no longer be tolerated. We do hope and pray, that he has learned from his sins, but you should be careful and never naive, because it is very strange, that after such a short time the “Motu proprio” is “used” to regain a highly conservative image. So I personally have to say, that it seems to be a bit of hypocrisy, unfortunately. Furthermore it is interesting, that in the time before the Austrian seminary scandal the same priest Rothe expressed his rejection concerning the old form of the Roman Rite. Okay, this is enough for now.

  55. Michael J says:

    Joanne,

    I have to disagree that there are fewer vocations today because homosexuality has come to be acceptable by society. Do you really think that the reason that there were more vocations in the past is because homosexuals were “hiding”?

  56. Joanne says:

    Do you really think that the reason that there were more vocations in the past is because homosexuals were “hiding”?

    Hi, Michael: I am not certain there were “more” vocations in the past. I really can’t say if there were more or fewer or the same number. I think quite honestly that those numbers are unknowable to humans. The fact that there are fewer men entering the seminary today isn’t necessarily proof that the number of *genuine* vocations was higher in the past, imo.

    I do think that men have long used the Church as a “cover,” either because they are homosexual (although some priests have had illicit affairs with women and fathered children), or to gain access to young people, and/or as a way perhaps to a comfortable lifestyle that they wouldn’t be able to attain otherwise (eg, in a developing country). There are also men who were ordained, acted as priests for a time, then left the priesthood, either remaining single or more commonly as far as I know, to be married. I think there have been countless examples of men who were ordained without evidently having a genuine vocation. I do think however that the largest group of these is homosexual men wanting to remain closeted.

    Take care! Joanne

  57. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis quotes the Declaration Inter Insigniores on the Issue of Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood prepared under the auspices of Pope Paul VI by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith:
    “As the Declaration Inter Insigniores points out, ‘the Church desires that Christian women should become fully aware of the greatness of their mission: today their role is of capital importance both for the renewal and humanization of society and for the rediscovery by believers of the true face of the Church.’” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis at 3).

    In that Declaration is acknowledgment of the vital roles women performed in service of the early Church:
    “And indeed, we can ascertain through the book of Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Paul, women who worked together with the Messenger of the Gospel (cf. Rom. 16: 3-12; Phil. 4:3); and he lists their names in accordance with greetings from his final Letters, some of these women at times exert a significant influence on certain conversions: Priscilla, Lydia and others; Priscilla, above all, who assumed the task of completing the formation of Apollos (cf. Acts 18:26), Phoebe, in the service of the Church of Cenchrae (cf. Rom. 16:1). All these facts that have been given reveal that the Church of apostolic times made considerable progress relative to the customs of Judaism. And, nevertheless, there was at no time any question of conferring upon these women Ordination.” (my translation)

    Pope Benedict XVI also made mention of these women ‘collaborators’ in a series of weekly addresses in the January/February 2007 timeframe. “In the house of Aquila and Priscilla, therefore, the Church gathered, the convocation of Christ, which celebrates here the Sacred Mysteries.”

    What all this shows is that we can trust the Vatican to acknowledge and encourage women and girls to be ‘collaborators’ with the leaders of the Church without fear that priesthood for women will inevitably result. I believe that altar service is one way to be a collaborator, and support the Vatican’s efforts to offer these slots to qualified young women.

  58. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    Romulus: For females to serve at the altar is wrong … because it disparages the dignity of womanhood as inadequate and unfulfilling.

    No, just the opposite. Opening altar service to girls recognizes and respects their dignity. In fact, the responsibilities of altar girls are relatively few compared with the responsibilities that women performed for the formation of the early Church. On this specific issue, leadership is coming from the very top and it is soundly rooted in scripture.

    In a series of addresses in early 2007, Pope Benedict XVI provided his thoughts on the early formation of the Christian church in what he described as a “journey among the protagonists who were the first to spread Christianity,” including women who were entrusted with ecclesial responsibilities greater than that of altar servers today. The term ‘collaborators’ is frequently used to describe their role. In his address of February 14, 2007 the pope described Prisca and other ‘collaborators’:
    “Last Wednesday [February 7] we already came across the figure of Prisca or Priscilla, Aquila’s wife, who surprisingly is mentioned before her husband in two cases (cf. Acts 18: 18; Rom 16: 3): In any case, both are explicitly described by Paul as his sun-ergoús, ‘collaborators’ (Rom 16: 3).
    “There are several other important points that cannot be ignored. It should be noted, for example, that Paul’s short Letter to Philemon is actually also addressed to a woman called ‘Apphia’ (cf. Phlm 2). The Latin and Syriac translations of the Greek text add to this name ‘Apphia’, the appellative ‘soror carissima’ (ibid.), and it must be said that she must have held an important position in the community at Colossae. In any case, she is the only woman mentioned by Paul among those to whom he addressed a Letter.” (link added)

    As the NAB footnote to the passage makes clear, St. Paul is not referring to Apphia as their blood relative, but rather to their sister in Christ who is entrusted to perform functions in the Church.

    And, Romulus, please take careful note of Pope Benedict XVI’s reference to women’s dignity: “It is rather to St Paul that we are indebted for a more ample documentation on the dignity and ecclesial role of women.”

    ~~~
    There is much more. In his address of February 7, 2007 he emphasized that Prisca and her husband’s roles included responsibilities inside the church during mass:
    “Hence, we come to know the most important role that this couple played in the environment of the primitive Church: that of welcoming in their own house the group of local Christians when they gathered to listen to the Word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist. It is exactly this type of gathering that in Greek is called ‘ekklesìa’ – the Latin word is ‘ecclesia’, the Italian ‘chiesa’ – which means convocation, assembly, gathering. … Thus, we can see the very birth of the reality of the Church in the homes of believers.”

    Now for all the doubters, compare the ecclesial responsibilities of women as ‘collaborators’ in the early Church with what the USCCB (the link is provided in my first comment above) is asking them to perform as altar servers today:
    “Servers carry the cross, the processional candles, hold the book for the priest celebrant when he is not at the altar, carry the incense and censer, present the bread, wine, and water to the priest during the preparation of the gifts or assist him when he receives the gifts from the people, wash the hands of the priest, assist the priest celebrant and deacon as necessary.”

    Okay? Those are important tasks that must be done well, for sure, but with the bishop’s permission, your parishes can find young women to carry out these duties adequately.

    ~~~~~
    Dr. Eric: Now, at my church here in Southern Illinois, in a different town, there are plenty of able bodied boys and young men of High School age who sit in the first couple of pews while pubescent girls serve at the altar. These are males who will never be priests as they have no desire to serve, or their opportunities have been taken away.

    I think you are blessed to be in a community where so many young people are clamoring to be altar servers. But you overstate the problem: being an altar boy is not a prerequisite for becoming a priest, but maturity is. As long as your bishop requires the altar server slots to be allocated to the most pious, the most mature, and the most interested in learning about the liturgy, there should be no objection to allowing girls to serve.

  59. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    Vernon: The hair and shoe styles of females are also most distracting to the congregation. All also good reasons why females should not serve on the Sanctuary.

     Allowing our sisters in Christ to be altar servers is something we should be thankful for and encourage. The USCCB has already expressed a requirement (link is provided in my first comment above) for proper decorum, so there is no reason that hair or shoe styles should be a distraction. Requirements for decorum would apply to boys even if there were no girl altar servers.

    “Servers, lectors commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine liturgical function. They ought, therefore, to discharge their office with the sincere piety and decorum demanded by so exalted a ministry and rightly expected of them by God’s people.
    “Consequently they must all be deeply imbued with the spirit of the liturgy, each in his own measure, and they must be trained to perform their functions in a correct and orderly manner.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium at 29) (emphasis added)

    Sincere piety and decorum are the essential features. “In the celebration of the sacraments it is thus the whole assembly that is leitourgos, each according to his function, but in the ‘unity of the Spirit’ who acts in all.” (CCC 1144) In one address in a weekly series, Pope Benedict XVI called upon his audience to ‘collaborators’ of Saint Paul, including Tryphaena and Tryphosa, whom Saint Paul called “workers in the Lord.” (Rom. 16:12)

    In keeping with this recognition that women can choose to be workers in the Lord, the USCCB requires that “[n]o distinction should be made between the functions carried out in the sanctuary by men and boys and those carried out by women and girls.”

  60. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    The issue of vestments worn by altar girls comes up on occasion on this thread and some previous threads on this blog, so I’d like to take to address that. This issue is not a showstopper. Pope John Paul II spoke about the garments worn by male and female altar servers a few times. One occasion was an address to a general audience in August 2001 where he said:

    “The vestments worn by altar servers are very special. They recall a garment that everyone puts on when he is welcomed, in Jesus Christ, into the community. I am referring to the baptismal garment whose deep meaning is explained by St Paul: ‘For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ’ (Gal 3:27).
    “Even if you no longer fit into your baptismal garment, dear altar servers, you have put on that of an altar server. Yes, Baptism is the starting point of your ‘authentic liturgical service’, which puts you beside your Bishops, priests and deacons (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, at 29).”

    Please bear in mind that he was speaking to an audience of both sexes: “Dear Brothers and Sisters, Dear Young People…”, and he found no reason to single out either boys or girls for special attention.

    John Paul II also spoke of the symbolic nature of the white surplices in a speech to (male and female) altar servers on April 10, 1985:
    “Your presence revives the memory of beautiful [traditions], as this week once was ‘in albis’: a week in white robes. The dress in which many of you are now here today, the white surplice, which is the most evident distinction of your service at the altar, allows us to recall their use since antiquity here in Rome.”
    After quoting from Galatians 3:27 and Sacrosanctum Concilium as above, the pope continues with, “The robes of decorum and of beauty that you wear when you turn toward the mysteries of God, shall also be the sign of the interior disposition by which the altar servers become enriched, and it shall remain as a spiritual treasure for a lifetime.” (my translation)

    The bishops are in a position to ensure proper decorum in the way altar servers dress, and I believe parishoners are right to complain if decorum is not maintained. As Pope Paul VI observed, “You altar boys are the closest ones to Jesus in the Tabernacle, when you serve the priest at Holy Mass.” Problems, where they exist, can happen with boy altar servers just as much as with girl altar servers. And if problems with the decorum and dress of boy altar servers is solvable, then there is no reason to believe the problems cannot be solved for girl altar servers as well.

  61. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    Related to Rothe’s book, “Liturgische Versöhnung”, GoogleTranslate gives a relatively readable preview of Msgr. Perl’s forward at this link.

    This next link also gives what appears to be the table of contents of the book, and there is a chapter related to the letter “Quattuor abhinc annos” which Fr. Z has blogged about previously. There is no explicit mention of issues related to communion in the hand or altar girls in the table of contents or forward.

  62. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    More on dignity as it pertains to altar servers.

    “Still, no matter what our age, all of us must try to use to the full the time that still remains to us.
    “There are those who believe that after a certain age there are no further challenges to face, that no further growth is possible. Each one of you knows that this is not true. Learning to grow old requires wisdom and courage. The experience of aging is one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.” (Address of John Paul II to the Elderly of Perth on November, 20 1986, at 4)

    “At this moment the growing number of older people in different countries worldwide and the expected retirement of persons from various professions and the workplace provides older people with a new opportunity in the apostolate. Involved in the task is their determination to overcome the temptation of taking refuge in a nostalgia in a never-to-return past or fleeing from present responsibility because of difficulties encountered in a world of one novelty after another. They must always have a clear knowledge that one’s role in the Church and society does not stop at a certain age at all, but at such times knows only new ways of application.” …
    “Arriving at an older age is to be considered a privilege: not simply because not everyone has the good fortune to reach this stage in life, but also, and above all, because this period provides real possibilities for better evaluating the past, for knowing and living more deeply the Paschal Mystery, for becoming an example in the Church for the whole People of God.” (Christifideles Laici, at 48) (internal quotation marks omitted)

    “’I by my works will show you my faith’ (Jas 2: 18). With these words, the Apostle James invited us not to be afraid of openly and courageously expressing our faith in Christ in our daily lives, especially in works of charity and solidarity with those who are in need (cf. vv. 15-16).
    “Today I thank the Lord not only for all the brothers and sisters who witness to this active faith in daily service to the elderly, but also for all elderly people who, to the best of their ability, still continue to do their utmost for others.” Homily of John Paul II, September 17, 2000, at 6)

    Now with all that in mind:
    “Many older people already contribute effectively to the service of places of worship. If suitably trained, they could, in larger numbers, play the role of permanent deacons, and fulfill the ministry of lector and altar server. They could also be used in the extraordinary ministry of the Eucharist, and exercise the role of animators of the liturgy. They could also help promote forms of Eucharistic devotion and other forms of devotion, especially to Mary and to the Saints. (Pontifical Council for the Laity, “The Dignity of Older People and their Mission in the Church and in the World”) (emphasis added)

    Altar service is not just for boys.

  63. Why not simply restore Minor Orders to the Latin Rite and be done with the question of female altar servers? These orders could then be opened up to more than just seminarians. Laymen could also receive them.

    http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2008/10/lectors-ministries-vs-minor-orders-call.html

    Just a thought…

  64. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    Thank you for the link. Lots of great information and interesting commentary about solutions to a problem I did not know existed. Proposition 17 is in the hands of the pope who we trust will make the right decision for the right reasons. (I dimly recall from somewhere else that decisions are announced at the anniversary of the synod conclusion.) Almost all Catholics have a stake in the outcome, either directly or indirectly, so interest and concern among the faithful is a healthy reaction. An assurance is provided by Benedict XVI’s two predecessors:

    “With full realization of the mission entrusted to him, Paul VI expressed on that occasion a commitment which I too fully endorse and for the fulfillment of which he has been a constant model and example: “We will defend the Holy Church from errors in faith and morals which from within or without threaten her integrity and cloud her beauty; we will strive to maintain and increase the Church’s pastoral vigor” (Paul VI, Homily, 30 June 1963). Dear Brother Bishops, this is an objective which I know you too share. Herein we have a pastoral duty which belongs to the essential core of our ministry, and which imposes itself with evangelical urgency. As Pastors, we bear responsibility for “rightly handling the word of truth” (2Tm. 2:15), by proclaiming in a way that is clear and uncompromising, yet attractive and encouraging, “the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ” (2Cor. 4:4).” (emphasis added)

    In one of a series of Wednesday addresses, Pope Benedict XVI traced this assurance of preservation against error back to Saint Irenaeus of Lyons: “Lastly, the Apostolic Tradition, as he says in the Greek language in which he wrote his book, is “pneumatic”, in other words, spiritual, guided by the Holy Spirit: in Greek, the word for “spirit” is “pneuma”. Indeed, it is not a question of a transmission entrusted to the ability of more or less learned people, but to God’s Spirit who guarantees fidelity to the transmission of the faith.
    This is the “life” of the Church, what makes the Church ever young and fresh, fruitful with multiple charisms.” (emphasis added)

    John Paul II addressed an issue related to lectors in his address of October 13, 1993. Note, once again, that trust is essential:
    “It is especially fitting that the ministries of lector and acolyte should be entrusted to those who, as candidates for the order of diaconate or priesthood, desire to devote themselves to God and to the Church in a special way. For the Church, which ‘does not cease to take the bread of life from the table of the Word of God and the Body of Christ and offer it to the faithful,’ considers it to be very opportune that both by study and by gradual exercise of the ministry of the word and of the altar candidates for sacred Orders should through intimate contact understand and reflect upon the double aspect of the priestly office.” (quoting Ad Pascendum, 1972) (emphasis added)

    No surprise perhaps, but I have no firm opinion on how Proposition 17 or the idea you mention to re-instate the Minor Orders should be decided, but I suspect I will be firmly in favor of whatever decisions the Church will eventually make on the issues. Probably haven’t told you anything you don’t already know, but hashing these things out myself is helpful to me.

  65. Julia says:

    In my opinion the Vice-President of “Ecclesia Dei” is a more credible authority than this Fr. Alex. Du you really think, the Vice-President of “Ecclesia Dei” would write a preface to the book of Fr. Rothe, if Fr. Rothe would be a perpetrator? According the official declaration of the diocese of Munich Fr. Rothe was suspected falsely and is now rehabilitated.

  66. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    This is a longer excerpt from one of Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly addresses of 2007:

    It is rather to St Paul that we are indebted for a more ample documentation on the dignity and ecclesial role of women. He begins with the fundamental principle according to which for the baptized: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3: 28), that is, all are united in the same basic dignity, although each with specific functions (cf. 1 Cor 12:27-30).

    The Apostle accepts as normal the fact that a woman can “prophesy” in the Christian community (1 Cor 11:5), that is, speak openly under the influence of the Spirit, as long as it is for the edification of the community and done in a dignified manner.

    Thus, the following well-known exhortation: “Women should keep silence in the Churches” (1 Cor 14:34) is instead to be considered relative. Let us leave to the exegetes the consequent, much discussed problem of the relationship between the first phrase – women can prophesy in Churches – and the other – they are not permitted to speak; that is, the relationship between these two apparently contradictory instructions.

    ~~~end quote (emphasis added)

    If Pope Benedict XVI thought St. John Chrysostom settled the matter, he did not mention it in a pair of addresses devoted to the saint later that same year, here and here.

    Pope Paul VI briefly addressed the meaning of 1 Cor 14:34 in his Homily conferring the title of Doctor of the Church on Saint Theresa of Avila, the first woman to receive that title, saying this is not a hierarchical function, so there was no violation of this precept.

    My point is that Pope Benedict XVI is asking us laypersons to hesitate before using 1 Cor 14:34 to declare women are to be excluded from certain ecclesial roles. Pope Paul VI tells us the correct answer is not always immediately apparent.

  67. Baronius says:

    Anyone seeking to introduce “serviettes” into the TLM clearly has an agenda which is purely evil. Such persons need to be stopped at all costs.

  68. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    “Anyone seeking to introduce “serviettes” into the TLM clearly has an agenda which is purely evil. Such persons need to be stopped at all costs.”
    – Baronius

    “Jesus wants me to be a holy religious, and He will not be happy with me until I use all my strength for Him and become a saint. God is everything, I am nothing. I have to become a saint at all costs. This is my constant preoccupation”.
    Bl. Santia Szymkowiak

    So who has their priorities better ordered?

    If it’s any comfort, Baronius, Fr. Z has already pointed out that “under the present juridical situation [May 2008], a) no priest can be forced to have female altar servers and b) the sensibility of the people must be taken into account.”

  69. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    Vestments worn by altar girls are a topic of some commentary at this blog. As I’ve argued in comments above, I believe decorum is important and the garments for boys and girls need to be done right, but I don’t believe this to be an impossible task that would preclude girls from serving with dignity. The attire worn (or not) by indigenous women of far off lands provides us an extreme example of the relative nature of decorum. Very specifically, the island of Papua New Guinea on a very specific occasion is where we find our example, and the importance of the occasion is far from trivial:

    “Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude.” (CCC 2473)

    When Pope John Paul II traveled to Papua New Guinea for several days beginning May 7th, 1984, the subject of martyrdom came up frequently in his many speeches and homilies. At the airport of his arrival, he observed, “The zealous efforts and personal sacrifices of those missionaries are well known throughout the world, as is the vitality and fervor of the Church here which they have helped to form.”

    In his Homily later that same day, John Paul II gave more details: “The first attempt at evangelization was made by the Marists on the islands of Woodlark and Rooke in 1847. But they had to leave. Five years later another attempt was made there by the PIME missionaries. But after only three more years, they too were forced to abandon their missionary effort – not however before one of their number had given his life as a martyr for the faith: Blessed Giovanni Mazzucconi, who died at Woodlark in 1855 and who was recently beatified in Rome.”

    And at mass the next day the pope added: “His martyrdom is an eloquent proclamation of the teaching of Jesus which we have heard in today’s Gospel: ‘Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple’ (Luk. 14:33).” … “All those who contributed and those who are still contributing to this ecclesial service of evangelization—I am speaking of the missionaries and their collaborators, both living and dead—are giving thanks today to the Most Holy Trinity, because to them ‘this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things’ (Eph. 3:8-9).”

    And in another Homily for the sick and the suffering: “By uniting your sufferings with the Sacrifice of Christ, you help others to share in Christ’s Redemption. You cooperate with Christ in bringing his salvation to Papua New Guinea and to the world.”

    And in an address to the Bishops there: “There has indeed been a great flowering of the Christian faith on these islands, despite the many obstacles which must often have seemed insurmountable.”

    It’s clear to anyone paying attention that the pope had a serious message to deliver to the faithful regarding the history of missionary activity on the islands and martyrdom. But who said everyone was paying attention?
    ~~~

    That lengthy introduction was necessary to set the background for what came next. A set of photographs taken during Pope John Paul II’s visit seem to have absolutely scandalized a traditionalist organization who supplied the following caption for one at their website: “A hefty nude native woman brings the Offertory gifts for the Supreme Pontiff’s Mass. A new concept of Morals is being applied.” (Photo is safe for my workplace, but you should exercise discretion, and it is supplied unlinked: “http://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A027rcOffertoryGift.htm”)

    This organization, Tradition In Action (TIA), has been campaigning against what they see as progressivism on the part of Pope Benedict XVI, John Paul II and others at the Vatican, including, but certainly not limited to, the allowance for altar girls.

    At first glance, it might seem that Sacrosanctum Concilium at 29, would support TIA’s beef:
    “Servers, lectors commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine liturgical function. They ought, therefore, to discharge their office with the sincere piety and decorum demanded by so exalted a ministry and rightly expected of them by God’s people.”

    But no. Jimmy Akin reviewed what I think is a comparable issue regarding proper dress for receiving communion and gave his opinion that local customs dictate decorum:
    “What vesture is appropriate for receiving Communion is unambiguously culturally relative. In some cultures–like certain places in Africa–women do not wear tops at all, and the Church does not bar them from Communion on this ground. So one is going to have to judge whether the clothing is considered appropriate according to the local cultural norms, whether one approves of those norms or not (per canon 18′s strict construction).
    “If the local culture permits 14 year old girls to wear string-tied tops that reveal their shoulders–or strapless wedding dresses that do the same thing–then a minister will not be permitted to deny Holy Communion on that basis.”
    ~~~~

    Cultural norms cut both ways. If parishioners are not satisfied that the garments worn by altar girls do not fit or look right, it’s possible that not a whole lot of thought was put into the matter, and suggestions for improvements can be made.

  70. Michael J says:

    Matthew,

    I can find no hint that Bl. Santia Szymkowiak aspired to be an altar server nor did she advocate that this function be opened up to females.

    I also note with interest that she did *not* insert the words “in a way that is pleasing and personally meaningful for me” after she said “He will not be happy with me until I use all my strength for Him”.

  71. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    Michael J,

    I think we agree on the facts. And (of course) I have no legitimate complaint against people who take sides on this issue and state their reasons for doing so. An appeal to scripture, tradition, dogma, canon law, or the good words of the saints and popes are what I look for and react positively to.

    Father Z. had a relatively constructive suggestion last year, echoed by Fr. Deacon Daniel and others: “I think a great solution would be if bishops would simply install more acolytes and lectors. This would help to resolve many problems.” (Neither agreeing nor disagreeing with it, I just consider it constructive.)

    Blessed Santia and Blessed John are two inspirations I came across who I thought really knew how to keep their eye on the ball, to focus on what is important. Blessed Santia wanted her life devoted to Jesus “at any cost” to her. Blessed John paid for his faith with his life (as did Blessed Peter To Rot who I may have a chance to rely on further). “But in truly great trials, where I must make a definitive decision to place the truth before my own welfare, career and possessions, I need the certitude of that true, great hope of which we have spoken here. For this too we need witnesses —martyrs— who have given themselves totally, so as to show us the way—day after day.” (Spe Salvi at 39) (emphasis added). The great hope, we are told, must take priority.

    The Church values the dignity of men and women, and where I saw an opportunity to give those values priority, I decided to speak up.

  72. Ken says:

    Interesting. So no female altar boys and no communion in the hand, but yes on Saturday night Masses for Sunday; so-called permanent deacons; laymen as subdeacon; vernacular Epistle and Gospel; singalong Pater Noster; laymen reading/chanting the Passion; chanted/aloud Per Ipsum; transfered holy days when a weekday is inconvenient; Divine Mercy Sunday; etc., etc.

    Ah, the perils of picking and choosing which of the post-1962 innovations can be used with the 1962 missal…

  73. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    One argument opponents of altar girls use is that altar service is a dead end for girls, and therefore the slots they take are wasted. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

    Pope John Paul II spoke many times on the subject on Christian vocations for young people numerous times. Here, for example, is part of his address on World Day of Prayer for Vocations in 1994:
    “What is needed today is a Church which knows how to respond to the expectations of young people.” At no point – here or anywhere else – does he state or imply that priesthood is a legitimate expectation of girls.

    He continues, “Jesus wants to enter into dialogue with them and, through his Body which is the Church, to propose the possibility of a choice which will require a commitment of their lives. As Jesus with the disciples of Emmaus, so the Church must become today the traveling companion of young people, who are often marked by confusion, resistance and contradictions, in order to announce to them the ever-astonishing ‘news’ of the risen Christ.
    “This is what is needed: a Church for young people, which will know how to speak to their heart and enkindle, comfort, and inspire enthusiasm in it with the joy of the Gospel and the strength of the Eucharist; a Church which will know how to invite and to welcome the person who seeks a purpose for which to commit his whole existence; a Church which is not afraid to require much, after having given much; which does not fear asking from young people the effort of a noble and authentic adventure, such as that of the following of the Gospel.”

    In the apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, John Paul II writes of the consecrated life for women:
    “Spiritual motherhood takes on many different forms. In the life of consecrated women, for example, who live according to the charism and the rules of the various apostolic Institutes, it can express itself as concern for people, especially the most needy: the sick, the handicapped, the abandoned, orphans, the elderly, children, young people, the imprisoned and, in general, people on the edges of society. In this way a consecrated woman finds her Spouse, different and the same in each and every person, according to his very words: ‘As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40).”

    The tie-in to service as an altar girl should be pretty obvious, but just in case, Pope John Paul II made it explicit in his Wednesday address of August 1, 2001 to altar servers:

    “I have spoken of friendship with Jesus. How happy I would be if something more sprang from this friendship! How beautiful it would be if some of you could discover a vocation to the priesthood! Jesus Christ urgently needs young people who generously make themselves available to him without reserve. Furthermore, might not the Lord also be calling some of you girls to embrace the consecrated life in order to serve the Church and the brethren? Also for those who would like to be united in marriage, an altar server’s service teaches that an authentic union must always include readiness for reciprocal and gratuitous service.”

    Will girls respond? Rev. Peter R. Pilsner seems to think so, even though he opposes allowing them to serve:
    “… I am afraid that if the American bishops mandate that girls must serve together with boys, we may not have many altar boys left. As I said before, girls tend to be more ready and willing than boys to step forward and participate in religious activities. I am sure that if we open serving at the altar to girls, many of them will volunteer, and they will do so with the most noble motives — their love for God and their heartfelt desire to serve Him. However, since serving will then no longer be something for boys only, it will lose its attraction for the boys, and they simply won’t want to do it anymore.” (emphasis added)

  74. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    Today is the 70th anniversary of the death of Saint Ursula (Julia) Ledóchowska, and her great life can be a model for some altar servers. In the Homily for her canonization, Pope John Paul II tells us about what makes her special:
    “In the light of this Eucharistic love, St Ursula could glimpse a sign of the times in every circumstance, in order to serve God and her brothers and sisters. She knew that for believers, every event, even the least important, becomes an opportunity to carry out God’s plans. What was ordinary, she made extraordinary; what was part of daily life, she transformed so that it became eternal; what was banal, she made holy.”

    She has to be an example of someone who the pope wanted altar servers to follow when he spoke to a group of them in 2001. Recall that he said, “I have spoken of friendship with Jesus. How happy I would be if something more sprang from this friendship! How beautiful it would be if some of you could discover a vocation to the priesthood! Jesus Christ urgently needs young people who generously make themselves available to him without reserve. Furthermore, might not the Lord also be calling some of you girls to embrace the consecrated life in order to serve the Church and the brethren?”

    She used her energies to found the convent of the Grey Ursulines (Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony) who perform “educational projects and service to others, particularly to the suffering, the lonely and the abandoned who were searching for the meaning of life.” This is the fruit of their abiding in Jesus (cf. Jn 15:5). Saint Ursula Ledóchowska was a “Venerable Servant of God” who would become an example of holiness.

    Performing altar service is a chance for some people to consider perhaps following this saint’s example.

  75. Baronius says:

    Matthew,

    Please spare us these idiotic ramblings. The depth of your ignorance on this issue is astonishing. If you try to introduce serviettes into the TLM, you will cause a war. Is that what you want?

  76. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    Baronius,

    I am not looking to annoy you or taunt you. The words of some extraordinary people are quoted here – saints and maybe a future saints or two – so if you click on a link, you get a little something interesting and worthwhile to read. You can come to your own conclusions about what any of it means. For a limited time, while the comments section is open, you can post your opinions about what it means.

    I’ve already answered your question as well as I could by quoting Fr. Z, you should not have much to worry about.

  77. Matthew in Fairfax: I am against the employment of altar girls. I don’t believe this is a practice that should be continued. It is out of keeping with tradition and the nature of the Roman Rite. It should be ended as soon as possible where it was started… gently… and never begun where it hasn’t.

  78. Matthew in Fairfax says:

    Understood, Fr. Zuhlsdorf. You’ve made that clear elsewhere, and on occasion I’ve included links to your archives where people can read the specifics. In reply to Baronius the first time, I quoted you and provided this link for him to read the fuller context:
    wdtprs.com/blog/2008/05/tlm-dust-up-…

    I had presumed I was being helpful.

  79. Matthew: It is not a good idea. It is a discontinuous innovation and should be gently but firmly phased out.