Lucetta Scaraffia is not a girl or young woman who was an altar server in the crowd who wrote an essay: "What I did on my summer vacation". No, she has appeared in the electronic pages of this blog before (here). This is from her bio on the Italian Wikipedia: She was born in 1948, so she isn’t young. She teaches at La Sapienza. During the 60’s she left the Faith and joined a militant feminist movement. Through her study of St. Rita of Cascia and St. Theresa of Avila reverted. I am guessing this had something to do with the Communita di Sant’Egidio, since her recoversion was celebrated in some way at the the Basilica of S. Maria in Trastevere. She is married to Ernesto Galli della Loggia, an editorialist for Corriere della Sera.
Panorama had a longish interview with her entitled "I, a heretic, explain my conversion."
John Allen of the NCR saved me time by providing a translation of part of the recent essay in L’Osservatore Romano.
Here’s the relevant section from Scaraffia’s essay, in NCR translation to which I add emphases and comments:
"Being an altar server was always understood as a service but, at the same time, as a privilege, [to which no person has any right] because it leads one into the heart of the liturgical celebration, in the space of the altar, to direct contact with the Eucharist. [Which leads us to the question of why the priest’s hands are anointed, and the reason for a sanctuary in a church which is already a sacred space, and why only males are ordained and why the Lord was male.] The exclusion of girls from all this, for the sole reason of belonging to the female sex, [I don’t think this is a fair way to frame it. There are other factors involved.] has always weighed heavily and signified a profound inequality within Catholic education, [education? It is possible that the Italian "educazione" is to be taken here as more than what is supposed to happen in a school room. "Educazione" has to do with the larger concept of upbringing.] which fortunately has been cancelled ["cancellata", maybe the impact of this is "corrected… eradicated"] by now for several decades. Even if perhaps many pastors have been resigned to altar girls only in the absence of available boys, for young women overcoming this barrier was very important, [For whom?] and in fact that’s how it’s been understood: the presence of a female majority at the tenth gathering of ‘ministrants’ which recently took place in the presence of the pope demonstrates it." [I don’t know what it demonstrates. It might demonstrate that the boys were playing soccer or were hiking.]
[And we now careen into the thought of a feminist…] "For girls, entering into the space of the altar has meant the end of any attribution of impurity to their sex, [Does it? I didn’t think this was really an issue. But since L’Osservatore Romano brings it up, perhaps we ought to reexamine why God Himself gave divine positive laws in the Old Testament concerning these matters. We live under the NEW covenant, of course. But obviously God thought that the differences of sex meant something.] it’s meant the possibility of living this formative experience of extraordinary importance in religious education, [See what I mean about "educazione"? If this is merely "education" in the sense of learning, then Mass is being reduced to a "learning experience". But Mass is not a didactic moment, as if it were a tool of social formation. I think to save this thought, that "educazione" has to be something like "upbringing". Even then, there are questions raised.] and it’s meant a different kind of attention to the liturgy as well as coming closer to the faith by drawing near to its very heart." [I hope the writer isn’t saying that in order to "draw near to [the liturgy’s] very heart" you have to be – at least – an altar server.]
I am not sure what L’Osservatore Romano is driving at here.
Perhaps we can go back to their essays on Michael Jackson, the Blues Brothers, etc. for a hermeneutic with which to read this. Frankly, I prefer Romans 12:2.
L’Osservatore Romano last March published a piece by Lucetta Scaraffia which asserted that the clerical sexual abuse of minors would not have happened had there been a greater presence of women in leadership in the Church. That assertion is, of course, specious. Women have been abusers and women have also covered up abuse. Just ask SNAP what it thinks about the cooperation they have received from the LCWR. The seemingly anti-Catholic Irish Times published an edited version of Scaraffia’s piece in L’Osservatore.
Some time ago, Sandro Magister wrote a piece about how L’Osservatore Romano "broke a taboo" by printing something by Scaraffia about brain death and organ transplants. Fr. Lombardi of the Press Office was quick to put some daylight between the Holy See and the newspaper (which raises a lot of questions), saying at that time that the article "is not an act of the Church’s magisterium, nor a document of a pontifical organism," and that the reflections expressed in it "are to be attributed to the author of the text, and are not binding for the Holy See."
She also has an interview on the site of Roma Sette of the Diocese of Rome.
An interesting figure.
But the fact that she is interesting doesn’t mean that L’Osservatore Romano is throwing out a lot of confused and confusing signals.