Female altar servers up, ordinations down

17_05_05_ordination_card_01In once-Catholic Austria, now female altarettes outnumber male servers.  HERE

Nearly a quarter century after the practice of female altar servers became licit, 55% of Austria’s 45,000 altar servers are girls, according to statistics published by the Archdiocese of Vienna.

In addition, 2,800 of the 5,000 persons who supervise altar servers in Austria are women.

In other news…

At religion.orf.at we read:

Number of Catholic new priests [in Austria] reaches new low

18 new Roman Catholic priests will be consecrated this year in Austria around the St. Peter and Paul Apostles on June 29th. The number of priest ordinations is likely to reach a new low.
[…]
This year’s priest “vintage” is between 29 and 57 years old. Ten come from religious orders, eight are diocesan priests. Among the candidates for [ordination], there are also several “retired people”, such as a former physicist, a former aircraft mechanic and a trained gardener, and as in previous years, only a part comes from Austria. Eleven of the candidates are born here, the others are from Germany, Poland, India and Vietnam.

Beautiful Catholic Austria… no longer.

Growing number of women in the sanctuary.  Shrinking number of ordinations to the priesthood.

Is there a correlation?

Sure there is.

It is not just the presence of the women, it’s the womanish attitude of the clergy which repulses young men who would otherwise consider priesthood.

Remember the polls?

Does an all-male sanctuary foster vocations to the priesthood? (Revisited)

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Does female service at the altar harm or suppress vocations to the priesthood?

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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108 Responses to Female altar servers up, ordinations down

  1. Kevin says:

    Speaking of things Austrian, have a look at this recent talk given in Limerick, Ireland. https://www.icatholic.ie/amoris-laetitia-chapter-8-schonborn/
    It gives a flavour of the predictable line this spineless Irish church will follow with the World Meeting of Families 2018.

  2. Poor Yorek says:

    And somewhere a senior prelate says: “Good, good: everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.”

  3. Aquinas Gal says:

    There may be a correlation, but that’s not the same as showing true causation.
    Other factors are at work, too, like the general lack of catechesis and dumbing down of faith. If there were a robust practice of the Catholic faith in Austria, things would be different.

  4. G1j says:

    It’s truly a sad situation that there are not enough young men who are willing to serve at the altar. In our parish, there are no male servers who will step up. My wife and I have 2 daughters who serve, only because there would be no servers if they didn’t. They serve every weekend. I pray that parents will begin to teach the faith again to their sons and instill in them the importance of serving at the altar. Most though know that their sons times on the weekends will be monopolized by soccer, basketball, football, and like actives. Serving at Mass just doesn’t fit into the desired realm of importance in the lifestyle of today’s modern Catholic. The Church is getting smaller…Just as Pope Benedict XVI exclaimed.

  5. RichR says:

    Our parish has close to 90% boys serving at the altar. Our parish also has a high seminarian count as far as family parishes in the diocese.

  6. aliceinstpaul says:

    Or perhaps some parents of boys know that their pre-pubescent should not, and especially their pubescent boys cannot be that close to pubescent girls. It is unfair to ask a young male teen to keep his mind on the Lord when he is that physically near a girl.

    Another issue is that the more girls do a job, the more they do it “better”. From the boys’ perspective, they often boss the boys around. (If the boys try to boss them, they’d be viewed as sexist monsters.) It may be that they actually do the job better, but that just ruins the esprit de corps of the young men.

    So it is a vicious cycle. Until you redirect the young women elsewhere, it’s unlikely the young men will return. This is true in every single field of study or work.

    A parish that doesn’t see these realities is not seeing the truth. Whether that is a choice or a mistake, if you keep not seeing the truth, eventually you lose sight of the Truth.

  7. laurel says:

    My son-in-law (father of 6) prefers to use the term Altar-Chicks…..however, Altarettes is good also.

  8. Gripen says:

    My Novus Ordo parish has had an all-male sanctuary since at least 2004, and perhaps before then. None of the Anglican Ordinariate parishes I’ve ever been to had altar girls, either. As someone who’s served at Mass for over a dozen years, yes, I think really does foster vocations to the priesthood. More than that, I think it helps young men discern their vocations in general.

  9. Anneliese says:

    Cardinal Burke pointed out the correlation and he was vilified for it. A Facebook acquaintance recently made a comment on a post that discussed his comments on the issue of girl altar servers and she, along everyone else commenting, ripped into him. I met Cardinal Burke a couple of times when he was in St Louis. If people only took a few minutes to actually speak with him, they’d realize he isn’t the anti Christ.

  10. Joy65 says:

    Our parish has one faithful young lady who serves every Sunday. There are 4 young men who are acolytes but they only come and serve sporadically. On Saturdays usually there is no server and Father does everything. Our older son served from the age he was allowed until he graduated. It is about parents making altar service an important issue. Also it’s about religious education or the lack there of. A female altar server is better than NO altar server.

  11. cwillia1 says:

    The altar boy is something like an apprentice priest. But an altar girl will never be a priest. If for some foolish reason you must allow altar girls you must replace this apprenticeship with something else that meets the need for boys who are potential priests or you will kill vocations at an early stage.

    Now, I would ask G1j why it is necessary for the girls to serve at the altar? Really, in the NO the altar server doesn’t do a lot and perhaps it would be better for the girls and for the parish, if the girls’ father served in stead of them.

  12. crjs1 says:

    Our, fairly conservative, parish has about a 70 girl -30% boy split. I don’t think, at least where I am, that the precense of girls in the sanctuary is putting off boys, it’s more the attitude of parents who are far far more likely to encourage boys to join the school football team or let them play video games or hang out with friends all weekend than encourage them to serve, let alone attend Mass with the rest of the family! It is much more common to see girls at Mass with thier parents than sons particularly when the kids are teenagers.

    If it wasn’t for female servers many Mass’s here wouldn’t have any alter servers at all and I think that’s much more to do with how faith is discussed and encouraged in the home and society more generally than female servers being discouraging to boys.

  13. Having an altar server (servette?) in the sanctuary is not a requirement for a priest to celebrate a valid Mass, and NO ONE has the right to demand that they be allowed to act as a server.

    Since the role of the server or acolyte in representing the congregation in offering the necessary responses during the EF was removed by the scissors-and-paste committee responsible for the OF (which was the original purpose…not just holding the cruets and ablution bowl); there is really LITTLE for them to do. I know, because as a 61-year-old, I still am asked to fill in when the young men in the parish (the pastor, to his everlasting credit, does not allow females to serve…and catches a lot of heat for it, but the bishop has stood behind him) blow off their obligation to do so without so much as a by-your-leave phone call. (I’ve also been an installed acolyte for most of my adult life, so I’m familiar with the role)

    It was a practice born out of disobedience (like communion in the hand) and only permitted (some say the indult was handed to St. John Paul II as one of many things to sign while he was recuperating in bed in 1994 from his fall) temporarily. Why? Just because you can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the causality between the whackjobs on the progressive wing that have pushed and shoved ‘diversity’ in the name of ‘inclusiveness’ down our throats to move the ball closer to the goal line of totally gutting the male priesthood doesn’t mean that is not what is happening. Creeping incrementalism is insidious.

    Show me an average, normal, 10-14 year old boy who viscerally wants to do the same thing as a girl? Psychologically, from what I’ve read, this age group is where the sexes gravitate towards associating with their own gender and eschew (until the horomones settle a little bit…) close association with the opposite sex.

    So…a group of young men, forced to accept as collaborators young girls, will naturally drift away. You have seen it happen…what started as one or two girls in the 20-man server team suddenly became the majority…as the boys drifted away because it’s now seen as ‘something girls do’.

    And with that, the chance to develop priestly vocations by developing a love of service at the altar. Real Men know how to serve God. But it’s hard to preach that line when all you see are pony tails bobbing on shapeless white bedsheet ‘albs’ on little girls who are confusing roles in the sanctuary in the worship of the Creator with their ‘right’ to not be denied the ability to do so.

    There are lies, dam* lies, and statistics. But the end result is plain to see.

  14. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Not sure I’m buying the “if it weren’t for girls there would be no servers at all” argument.

    Something of a vicious cycle. A huge part of the reason that there are no altar boys is that, once the girls start serving, the boys no longer think it is something for them.

    I think the boys would quite possibly step up to the plate if they knew it were reserved for them.

    Also not sure if I’m buying the argument that it is BETTER to have girls serving than no servers at all. That assumes CHILDREN must serve. As mentioned, adults could do it if necessary.

    The only (legitimate) reason children serve in the first place is to provide possible apprentices to the priesthood.

    If the faith is so weak that parents won’t send their young sons to serve (a critical problem in a parish to be sure, which the pastor should urgently address) then the next best thing would be to train devout men to do it.

  15. APX says:

    IMHO, I think it helps, but I think it’s more related to the priests the boys come into contact with throughout their young lives. Many of the priests I see now, if I were a guy, would not inspire me to even think of becoming a priest. I think a strong priestly identity among priests would help with the vocation crises many dioceses are experiencing.

    My son-in-law (father of 6) prefers to use the term Altar-Chicks

    Repulsive. Your son-in-law is part of the problem of the lack of respect shown towards women.

  16. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Bryan Boyle’s comments posted concurrently with mine so I didn’t see it first.

    Could have saved myself the keystrokes! He said everything that needs to be said, more elegantly than I.

  17. Mary Jane says:

    “A female altar server is better than NO altar server.”

    I’m not so sure about that.

  18. Kathleen10 says:

    Anybody’s who has raised boys or is familiar with boys knows that once something is girl territory it is not as appealing to them. Boys of a prior era were practically allergic to girl activities. Today, I have little boys who wear nail polish happily. Our culture is a big, fat, hot mess now, so this doesn’t hold as true as it did when boys were provided support for developing a healthy boy identity. Believe me, boys today are often screwed up, as are girls. People would be shocked at how the sexes are twisted up in kid’s minds already.
    This was one of the first times I questioned JPII, because this made no sense and still doesn’t. Of course boys are going to disappear, and I would say girls hit a dead end but, no so fast…not now, maybe it will pay off for them now. Whatevs.

  19. ce lathrop says:

    I know nothing about the Eastern Orthodox churches in Austria. But I’ll bet they don’t have girls serving in the altar.

  20. Peter in Canberra says:

    I don’t think female altar servers are a good idea. I agree that service at the altar can foster priestly vocations. However care should always be exercised in attributing hard and fast cause and effect explanations to apparent correlations.

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  22. Nan says:

    When orthodox sanctuary is a no girl zine, of course thete ate no girl altar servers.

    The reason thete are far fewer altar boys if there are also altar girls is obvious. Girl germs.

  23. Absit invidia says:

    In diocesan parishes we continue to hear prayers of the Faithful that ask for more priests. Meanwhile, in the sanctuary sits girls twirling their hair and thinking about their FB likes.

    The guys in charge praying for vocations and subverting their own prayers by discouraging vocations … is this some kind of sociology experiment?

  24. Andreas says:

    The origin of the statistics from a 2014 study quoted is from http://www.kathpress.at/goto/meldung/1525785/ministrantendienst-fuer-kinder-weiter-attraktiv. Assuming that what was written about the motivations of young people to be altar servers is accurate, it is most telling that, “Für viele Mädchen stehe beim Altardienst die Freiheit der Gleichberechtigung im Vordergrund, während sich Buben hingegen mit den vorwiegend männlichen Bezugspersonen in der Liturgie stärker identifizieren, interpretierte die Katholische Jungschar bei der Studie von 2014 das Ergebnis ihrer Erhebung”. That is, for the girls, being an altar server is a case of ‘equality’ whilst for the boys, it is the male liturgical tradition being followed. With regard to ordinations, we here in Austria are indeed suffering from a lack of Priests. Many parishes must share a single Priest who may or may not be available for Holy Mass. It is also interesting to note that more than 300 Priests were ordained in Poland last year; many can today be found celebrating Mass throughout Austria.

  25. Kerry says:

    Specifically, how is a ‘female altar server’ better than no server at all? Would a woman occupying the role of the male priesthood, invalid consecration and all, be better than ‘no priests at all’? Would an Anglican or Lutherian (deliberate sic.) or Methody-ist priestess be better than ‘no priests at all’? This thinking drifts towards ‘a man pretending to be The Blessed Virgin’ is better than woman religious at all’, and other strange creatures. The world must conform to the church, not the other way round. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.

  26. hwriggles4 says:

    Good comments particularly by Boyle, APX, and Cincinnati Priest. I do find when a priest commands a “manly” presence, more boys volunteer. I also remember my days as an altar boy (late 70s to mid 80s) and I always liked when the priest remembered your name – more priests need to do that.

    My parish is probably 70 to 30 of the boy/girl ratio, and when I see all girls at the altar at some parishes, I get worried because if a 10 or 11 year old boy sees only girls on the altar, he thinks it’s a girl thing. My brothers and I took gymnastics when we were younger, and when we got to be around 10 switched to other sports because gymnastics is predominantly a girl sport (it was different in the 40s, 50s, and 60s).

  27. cwillia1 says:

    Altar girls are rare in the Byzantine Rite and generally frowned on. Maybe in a women’s monastery the nuns do something that a woman would not do in a parish. In my home parish almost all of the boys who come regularly vest and serve at the altar and there are men who serve with them. We even have a couple of pre-schoolers who carry “candles”. Our priest is a model of manhood and the boys gravitate to him.

  28. G1j says:

    In response to cwilla1,
    Our parish is small and 80% of the communicants receive the Holy Eucharist on the tongue. It is important for there to be an altar server assisting with a paten to protect the Host from dropping to the floor. Our priest is older, and truly needs the assistance at the altar. As for the father of the girls, which is me, I already serve each week at Mass in a capacity that would not allow me to serve as altar server as well. Each week I am either sacristan, lector, cantor, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, or usher. I truly understand that the service at the altar, in best practice, would be ideally represented by young men. The main issue, as an earlier commenter put forth, is the need for parents to express the essential nature of their sons to take on this role and assist at Mass. That is assuming that there are young families even coming to Mass.

  29. hwriggles4 says:

    Someone mentioned the Ordinariate for the Chair of St. Peter. I went to the Ordinariate parish in my area on Holy Thursday. Bishop Lopes was there and after Mass I asked him about the male sanctuary (I thank priests who find twelve men for the feet washing, which was present at this Mass). Bishop Lopez told me that the Ordinariate does not allow altar girls. At these parishes (like the FSSP and the Novus Ordo parishes where the pastor doesn’t allow altar girls – at least two parishes in my diocese do this) boys volunteer in droves, and want to serve. Boys are not in short supply.

    When I was an altar boy in the late 70s to the mid 80s, my brother and I ended up serving nearly every week, and the early Sunday morning Mass stopped assigning an altar boy not long after the regular altar boy went to college.

  30. frjim4321 says:

    The kind of boy who is attracted to the priesthood because it is presented to him as being a club of male privilege is precisely the kind of boy we don’t need in the priesthood.

  31. acardnal says:

    And now we have men in the Ladies restroom and women in the Men’s restroom. Related? Just one happy unisex family of God.

  32. Gabriel Syme says:

    Regarding the Austrian ordinations of retired men etc, its exactly like that here in Scotland too. A local Church (where a friend of mine goes) sent a deacon (a retired pensioner) in his late 60s to a one-year course to become a priest. The course was in London and there were several men in their 70s attending too.

    Its crazy, that the Church is training priests who might actually die of old age before ordination. It speaks volumes for these men that, instead of enjoying their twilight years, they are prepared to work on behalf of the Church. But I do wonder what quality of priests they will make given they are being rushed through in one-year courses?

    I do not make a direct comparison, but the situation reminds me of the last days of the German regime in WW2. When they were sending out old men in civilian clothes to face the Soviet tanks, because it was all they had left. I suggested that analogy to the best diocesan priest in our City and he immediately agreed wholeheartedly. There is that same sense of despondency, hopelessness and impending doom.

    And while we never forget Our Lord’s promises regarding His Church, it cannot be denied that the Church in Western Europe will soon be going over a cliff. It is very clear the direction the Church has taken since Vatican II has been a total failure, yet there are still those fanatical zealots who will simply refuse to accept this reality (another unfortunate analogue with the last days of the WW2 German regime).

    And regarding “girl altar boys” as we call them – yes, once girls get their foot in the door, the activity – whatever it may be – becomes unappealing to boys (boys worth the name, anyway). This is basic stuff. Its amazing that a 2,000 year old institution seemingly knows so little about what makes people tick. The brutal imposition of the new mass, (and the episcopal lies about the traditional mass being banned etc), is another example of the Church riding roughshod over the human pysche.

    Other than confession or charity appeals, I do not darken the door of novus ordo Churches anymore, but before I started attending the TLM exclusively it was clear that the girls were beginning to become the majority amongst servers.

  33. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    The kind of boy who is attracted to the priesthood because it is presented to him as being a club of male privilege is precisely the kind of boy we don’t need in the priesthood.

    In my experience those who are in seminary or a religious institute for that reason are homosexuals. And I agree that they should not be there.

  34. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    “Altar girls twirling their hair”

    “Altar chicks”

    Sigh.

    Where has become of Christian chivalry?

    It’s one thing to say one disapproves mightily of female servers. I do, too. But wouldn’t any true Christian gentleman . . . of say the 15th to the 19th centuries . . .abhor to the depths of his soul any mockery, personal criticism, or other form of verbal abuse (even behind her back, so to speak) of the female, the weak, the old, the infirm, or of children?

    I guess I’m old. Just call me a throwback to an earlier bygone era.

  35. jaykay says:

    “… because it is presented to him as being a club of male privilege…”

    Total strawman.

  36. Sonshine135 says:

    It is a sad day in this world when my rather small diocese has more vocations than an entire, formerly Catholic, country. There is a lot to be said for keeping a Traditional parish. I discussed this in great detail with our newly ordained and assigned parochial vicar last night after his finely executed Extraordinary Form Mass in my regularly Ordinary Form Parish.

  37. gretta says:

    I have two boys in the 9-12 age group. And while maybe the “girl cooties” was a thing back when I was younger, it certainly does not seem to be an issue now. My guys don’t seem to care one way or the other who’s serving with them, in fact, I’m not sure they notice. And by the time they will notice, they will have aged out of serving. So at least in my own family experience, the “female altar servers running off the male altar servers” isn’t accurate at all.

    I”ve also got to say, in general these days, the priests have very little interaction with the altar servers. Most of the time the person in charge of the servers is not the priest, but someone else. I think this is in response to the abuse scandal, where for their own protection priests have as little to do as possible with the altar servers other than to give them basic directions during Mass. And to be completely up front, the only time my guys mention or take particular notice of the priest (and mention it to me) is when Father is particularly grouchy.

    So again, this notion that being an altar server is somehow the pipeline to priesthood, with the girls being the fly in the ointment, in my experience isn’t the case at all. I think it is a narrative based on a stereotype that isn’t as accurate anymore. With girls being on their sports teams and them having most of their activities integrated (with the main exception being scouts) I think younger boys these days are simply used to having the girls participating in the same activities they do and it just isn’t a big deal to them. Other people’s sons may have experienced something different, but that’s certainly been our experience.

    [I’m not buying it.]

  38. chuckharold says:

    What do the statistics say? What percent of Seminarians were “Altar Boys?” I think it is around 12%. Girls and boys, at least in the U.S. are integrated in almost all other activities. They don’t much pay attention to that anymore. In some parishes, families serve as altar servers; Mom, Dad, and the kids. Women are often coordinators and trainers because the Pastor doesn’t have time or knows that people don’t trust them around little kids, as a result of the sex scandal. If serving at the altar really leads to priestly vocation, maybe the Holy Spirit is telling us to ordain women. How bad could that be?

  39. Imrahil says:

    Terminological note:

    Is there a correlation? Sure there is.

    That is true as far as it goes, but obvious. There cannot be no correlation if there is, well, a correlation. This point is whether there is a causality, which is a different question.

    For the record, in my view there are as many reasons around that could explain the priest shortage that the mixed-sex altar-serverhood almost surely cannot be more than a contributing factor.

    —–

    Generally,

    while I see that there is a difference between 100% and 45% male, between the decision to have a male-only sanctuary or not to have it – I fail to see how there is a differcen between 90% male and 55% male or between 55% male and 45 % male. Under the hypothesis that girls can do altar-serving in general, the one girl more or the one girl less cannot possibly make a difference, nor who has a slight majority.

    In fact – again under the hypothesis that there are to be altar girls at all – I find it is a significantly positive sign that, with the pervading view of religion as a girlish thing and all the rest, it’s still at 45% male.

  40. Imrahil says:

    Dear Gabriel Syme,

    yes, once girls get their foot in the door, the activity – whatever it may be – becomes unappealing to boys (boys worth the name, anyway). This is basic stuff.

    You do realize
    1. that not all the world is Anglo-Saxon with, I hear, the strict separation of male and female leisure activities?

    (I’m referring specifically to your “boys worth the name anyway”.)

    2. That altar boys ideally grow beyond the age of 10 while still being altar boys, and that, well, for reasons of course which we might or well might not wish to foster especially in an altar-serving group, the opportunity to be around girls is actually an enticing factor? (Actually, I know of a priest who introduced altar girls so that the boys would stay.)

  41. Imrahil says:

    Rev’d dear Fr Jim,

    well, I’m just suggesting…

    priests are men, after all.

    Maybe one partial solution to the priesthood shortage would be if the Church were more lenient towards people willing to take the burden of pastoral work, celibacy and the rest, where no actual sins are concerned.

  42. Mathieu says:

    I bet there is a direct correlation! As a child I never wanted to altar serve because I didn’t want to become a priest. Even if girls were altar serving I still had in my mind that it was for people who wanted to be a priest. Now things turned around quite a bit, and I love altar serving…

  43. beelady says:

    Absit invidia, We can agree to disagree about female servers but pretending to read girls’ minds and assuming that they are all thinking about FB likes crosses over into blatant sexism.

  44. Roy Hobbes says:

    What? A giant leap in the number of altar girls, and a huge decrease in the number of seminarians? While there may not be an absolute direct correlation, they are most certainly related.

    For those who think otherwise, I am reminded of this scene:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdFl__NlOpA

  45. JKnott says:

    I recently came across this great article by Michael P. Foley on altar servers.
    http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/mfoley/08626.html

  46. hwriggles4 says:

    One thing I do remember about being an altar boy was it gave me something to do during the Mass. I was somewhat of a restless boy with a short attention span, and being an altar boy helped me concentrate on the Mass. Personally, during that time period, I think my older brother and I spent most of our time trying to remember what we were supposed to do next (candles, books, consecration, chalice, gifts, etc.) that we should have learned more about the Mass. Not only did serving give us something to do, it also gave us more exposure to what a priest did.

    Both my older brother and I also remember that circa 1980, most priests smoked, (priests who were seminarians post WWII and up to 1965 will say that cigarettes were plentiful, and often passed around free of charge) and it was normal that the priest would smoke a cigarette a few minutes before Mass started. Holding the book I recall many many times getting an odor of cigarette breath.

  47. Absit invidia says:

    “Twirling their hair” and distracted … because that’s what they do I’ve personally witnesses it.. It’s not nonchivalrous to point out the truth.

    Moreover, this conservation wouldn’t even be happening had mot the womesn movement infiltrated the chivalrous domain of altar boys.

  48. Lavrans says:

    Both parishes I work at, which have only altar boys, have not only seen a remarkable rise in the number of boys serving, but have also seen a dramatic rise in the number of boys who have gone on to the seminary and have been ordained. Contra to a poster above, these were EXACTLY the type of men we needed in this diocese. They are devout, humble, and normal. And they all point to their experience in the “brotherhood” of altar serving guilds as a primary factor in fostering their vocation. In a Church where even the Holy Father has condemned gender theory, why would we risk confusing people by assigning liturgical roles to girls who not only cannot be extensions of the priest, but cannot become priests at all, because they are not boys or men? The Mass is the source and summit of our faith. We should be most logically consistent there. Eliminate altar girls.

  49. Roy Hobbes says:

    Lavrans states: “…why would we risk confusing people by assigning liturgical roles to girls who not only cannot be extensions of the priest, but cannot become priests at all….”

    Give it time. Rome did not fall in a single day. The appointment of altar girls was merely the first step. Once that practice has become common, it will be easy to convince the laity with short memories that priestesses should be accepted as well.

  50. Sconnius says:

    Chuckharold, I’m not sure where you got your stats from, but they are waaaay off. Way off.

    The USCCB said that of all the priests ordained in 2016, 78% were altar servers prior to entering the seminary.

    As for women, of those who entered the religious life between 2014 and 2015, the number who had been altar servers was less than 30%.

    So there’s a pretty positive correlation between boys serving at the altar and recognizing their call to the priesthood that doesn’t exist in women hearing the call to the religious life.

    I think the Holy Spirit has spoken fairly clearly to us on this issue these last 2000 years.

  51. Mary Jane says:

    “Maybe one partial solution to the priesthood shortage would be if the Church were more lenient towards people willing to take the burden of pastoral work, celibacy and the rest, where no actual sins are concerned.”

    Um what?? More leniency is absolutely not the solution to the priest shortage.

  52. Phil_NL says:

    I don’t know if it’s by design or not, but it seems my parish avoids the problem by simply using much older servers. Most are adults, and would already have made their choices. (Having no kids myself, I have no clue if they’re not asking for younger ones, or are simply not getting them). Of course, if the sole purpose of having servers would be to foster vocations among the young, that is perhaps a solution that throws the child out with the bathwater, but not having a ruckus over it does help staying below the radar of the chancery, no doubt. And with experience comes smooth service, which is a good thing too.

  53. Mary Jane says:

    chuckharold, I think the Holy Ghost is telling us that women should not be altar servers.

  54. Mary Jane says:

    Look at the groups where vocations are thriving, look at what they’re doing. The monks at Clear Creek, the ICK, and the FSSP for instance. This is the charism that men and boys – especially those with a calling to the religious life of priesthood – want. Do these groups tolerate (much less allow) women or girls to be altar servers? No. “Coincidence? I think not!”

  55. Mary Jane says:

    Sorry I meant “charisma”, not charism.

  56. DetJohn says:

    Where have all the Altar Boys Gone?
    A good many of them can be found at the FFSP Parish of St. Stephen the First Martyr in Sacramento, California.
    Their Web Site sacffsp.com has a photo of around 40 or so Altar Boys with the parish Priest.
    It is my observation that when girls become servers, the boys abandon. This is recently noticeable in the Maronite rite in the USA….. I frequent 2 Maronite parishes in 2 different states…

  57. Clinton R. says:

    When the topic of altar girls comes up, I am always reminded of Pope Benedict XIV’s
    Encyclical Allatae Sunt (July 26, 1755):
    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

    As pointed out by others, the novelty of female altar servers began as an act of rebellion. For what other reason would there be a push for females serving at the altar other than hoping to condition the faithful for female ordination to the priesthood?

  58. Absit invidia says:

    beelady, I was half joking about the FB likes – it’s ok to laugh.

  59. Toan says:

    ““… because it is presented to him as being a club of male privilege…”

    Total strawman.”

    Indeed. But may Fr. Jim be abundantly blessed, even though he occasionally likes to throw funny grenades into Fr. Z’s combox.

    I’m actually not sure that OF altar server-hood actually does much to foster vocations at all. There isn’t much for the altar server to do in the OF mass, especially when (as with my parish) there are 5+ altar servers at each Sunday mass. One of their jobs might be to hold a candle to the Gospel, and then they’re all done with their altar serving responsibilities. EF altar serving…now THAT I can see as fostering vocations. There is more substantial outward work and prayer for the server, specifically, to do.

    For the OF, though, I agree with those who say that what actually fosters the vocation is more the increased contact with the clergy and less the act of actually serving at the altar.

  60. moon1234 says:

    When I was a boy, the priest at our parish would come to the podium before Mass and say “I need two young men to serve for today’s Mass. Please come and vest for Mass.”. I can’t think of a single time this request was ignored. Almost always men responded if called upon. I was too young at the time, but I do remember the request.

    For men, sometimes we like to be called upon for service. In this case Father was very specific about who he wanted. Why is this no longer done?

    The answer to no men or boys serving I think can be partially fixed by the Priest making an explicit request for men to serve at Mass right before it begins. We have two priests who I can think of now who have a certain manner about them. They are soft spoken men, but you NEVER disobey a legitimate request from them.

  61. Fr Brian says:

    Dear Gabriel Syme

    It is advisable to check facts before one goes go public on the basis of hearsay from the already misinformed. I can identify the ex-permanent deacon who you allude to in your ageist posting, because I know him. He is very much alive and has been ordained for service as a priest. Deo gratias. It is uncharitable of you to imply that he might have died before ordination of old age. He served for many years as a permanent deacon and has extensive life experience, with all the ‘quality’ that affords. He would not require an in-depth formation experience, to the extent that a younger man would. Nothing is being rushed through. It is incorrect that there were several other men in their 70s studying with him. I know this first hand. Whoever the ‘best diocesan priest in our city’ is, would, I’m sure, want to dissociate himself from your public comment regarding an easily identifiable newly ordained priest. You should pray for the success of his ministry as well as that of all newly ordained priests.

    Pax!

  62. gretta says:

    “The USCCB said that of all the priests ordained in 2016, 78% were altar servers prior to entering the seminary…So there’s a pretty positive correlation between boys serving at the altar and recognizing their call to the priesthood that doesn’t exist in women hearing the call to the religious life. ”

    Sconnius, I’m not sure that conclusion can be drawn from those facts. First off, at least in my experience being an altar server is seen more as a “rite of passage” for Catholic boys, so in general a larger percentage of boys would be altar servers (not only because the boy wants to, but often because their parents made them do it. We’ve told our boys that they will be altar servers, and did not give them a choice!) So I think your percentages are going to be much higher for priests being former altar servers rather than for girls who later enter religious life. Also skewing that number would be that women with religious vocations are more likely to come from families like the folks who read this blog, who would have a similar liturgical sense and likely discourage if not outright prohibit their daughters from serving. Or, the families choose to attend parishes where there were no female servers so their daughters never had the chance to serve. So it is not surprising that the percentage of women who were servers as children who then enter religious life would be low.

    What would be a more useful number is what is the total number of boys that have served as altar servers and what percentage of that total have gone on to be priests…

  63. Gregorius says:

    I think the altar girl arguments for ‘equality’ would be undercut if people realized serving is not really a job for children- the position and role of acolyte has from antiquity been its own proper role in the divinely-inspired order of the Mass, and boys are a stand in for these instituted acolytes, who to this day are and can only be men.

  64. Red_Shirt_Hero says:

    Serviettes?

  65. Red_Shirt_Hero says:

    As an instituted acolyte, shouldn’t you be serving whenever possible? Altar servers are actually filling-in for your liturgical role, not the other way around.

    And I don’t buy the point made that an OF server has nothing to do. At an OF ‘low Mass’, a single server would hold the missal for the priest at the chair for the collect and post-communion prayer, place the missal, corporal and chalice on the altar at the start of the liturgy of Eucharist, as well as hold cruets and the lavabo. As you add solemnity (and servers) there is plenty to do!

  66. Red_Shirt_Hero says:

    I also forgot the communion plate, as recommended for the OF.

  67. Hans says:

    “former physicist”

    Never heard of such a thing. Perhaps they meant ‘retired physicist’?

  68. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Gretta: In addition to Fr. Z “not buying it” (your argument that boys don’t notice or treat as significant the difference between serving with mixed-sex and all-boy environments), I’m not buying it either.

    Over the course of many years of my priesthood, I have been in parishes which have both boys and girls serving mixed, boys and girls serving in separate teams, and boys-only parish-wide. I can tell you from my experience that they do view it completely differently. The boys clearly enjoy it more when they are serving with all boys and are more focused and attentive; and the boys do tend to get out of the girls way and let them do everything when they are in mixed groups. This has been a completely consistent pattern I’ve observed. In the parish with all-boys, they really shine and have the best servers.

    I recommend reading a good book (not on Christianity but on the differences between boys and girls and what motivates them). It’s entitled
    “Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men” (Author: Leonard Sax). It may help yourself and all Fr. Z’s readers understand boys better.

    He deals with (reams of) data here, not impressionistic “experiences” of one parent and her two sons.

    That is why Sconnius’ argument is so important: it deals with strong statistically relevant correlations between altar service and the priesthood, not made-up facts such as chuckharold’s quite random (and false and, dare I say it, irresponsible) claim that there was no correlation between altar service and future vocations.

    Regarding posters claiming that it is not altar service per se that motivates altar boys to become priests (esp. in the OF Mass) but rather time spent with the priest: The reality is in most parishes working with the servers is one of the few opportunities the priest does have to spend time with the youth, because of a priest shortage and demands on his time. This is especially true in parishes with no school where it is more difficult to spend time with youth. So that’s not a strong argument.

    Regarding the claim that it doesn’t matter because priests delegate this to someone else: maybe so, but shame on those priests. That is something they should focus their time on to help promote future priestly vocations. (Without having that efforft diluted or even nullifed by working with majority altar girls who can of course not become priests).

    To put it quite simply: how many boys would be interested in playing football if it were coed? The claim that the boys “wouldn’t notice” or it wouldn’t change anything because things are different today is transparently false, as it is for altar service.

  69. ncstevem says:

    Real Catholic men don’t let their daughters play pretend by being altar tom-boys.

  70. Red_Shirt_Hero enscribed:
    >As an instituted acolyte, shouldn’t you be serving whenever possible? Altar servers are actually
    >filling-in for your liturgical role, not the other way around.

    Well aware of my instituted role, but, don’t assume to exercise the privilege (which is what it is, not a right) absent acquiescence (or request) by the celebrant to do so. HE has the right to be there…not me. There are hills to die on, this is not one of them, since my being there also means that I have the privilege to act as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion in preference to a non-(very)minor cleric (out of the pews) and some other privileges. I know my place but don’t presume…as I said, not a hill I want to die on.

    >And I don’t buy the point made that an OF server has nothing to do. At an OF ‘low Mass’, a single
    >server would hold the missal for the priest at the chair for the collect and post-communion
    >prayer, place the missal, corporal and chalice on the altar at the start of the liturgy of Eucharist,
    >as well as hold cruets and the lavabo. As you add solemnity (and servers) there is plenty to do!

    And if the priest celebrates at the altar, no one needs hold the book, if the chalice is veiled on the altar (not the credence table), then only the priest’s hands touch the sacred vessels…so it’s reduced to holding the cruets for the offeratory, water and bowl at the lavabo, paten at Communion, and cruet(s) at the purification. Solemnity is achieved not by having people doing things but by the fact of the Mass itself and reducing the number of external activities that have been created just to have external activities.

    Not trying to be obtuse or argue…just saying that as a liturgical reason, in the OF, the server is reduced to more a functionary role than integral part of the liturgical action in the Sanctuary.

    Compared to the role of the acolyte or server in the OF, there is more a need for them truly by the rubrics in the EF than the OF. They serve a liturgical function in the EF as representatives of the congregation responding on their behalf along with the functional aspects…in the OF, they are not a liturgical requirement as much as a practical activity. There is a difference.

    My opinion, and in charity, may it be accepted as that.

  71. TonyO says:

    My son-in-law (father of 6) prefers to use the term Altar-Chicks…..however, Altarettes is good also.

    Both good. My preference has been this: “girl altar boys.” It preserves the direct reference to the norm. But please, do NOT execute a typo and let it go as “girl alter boys”. That’s bad.

    Here’s another reason for rejecting girl altar boys: it is intentionally put forward by people who want women priests. Or should I say wymen priests? Anyway, we already know the problem with women priests: We have already had old ladies in the chanceries for decades now, and it hasn’t done a lick of good. The church is worse off than ever. So, I say, kick out the old biddies, and get us ordained some REAL men for the chanceries. Here’s a test of whether you have an old lady: has he excommunicated anyone – ever? Are there any persons in your diocese who fall under the sanctions of the canons for whom excommunication is the appropriate penalty? And…you were saying…?

    Brian Boyle’s first comments were spot on. I want to add just one point that has been missed / forgotten. In the original 1994 instructions about this, bishops were told that they can permit altar girls, IF they have a situation where it has been in practice already. They were NOT told that they can institute it as a new practice just out of preference. This harks back to an underlying principle: custom has the force of law. We had a 1500+ year old custom, that was also “noble” according to the pope. As St. Thomas says, custom habituates to virtue, and therefore is a positive force for good morals, and MUST be supported where reasonable – especially noble customs that themselves harbor important social goods. It was only in those places where the custom had already been eradicated by contrary practice that it was morally reasonable to change the particular (diocesan) law to accommodate it. The bishops and pastors who changed the local law WITHOUT having that predecessor destruction of the custom had, themselves, destroyed the custom – which was by no means morally justifiable. The Vatican was weak-willed in not requiring them to account for the facts on the ground (whether the custom had already been eradicated), and just rolled over and played dead.

    When our bishop gave our pastors the choice to decide for the parish, I (along with I am sure a good many other fathers) told the pastor in no uncertain terms that we would walk – go to another parish – if he changed from the all-male servers to a new and entirely unjustified custom. He didn’t. We still have all boys, thank God (and the pastor). We have no problem filling the spots, including having usually at least 2 boys who are there to “look pretty” because they have no specific assigned roles, but are “learning the system”.

    As to the farce of the boys being there for not very good reasons: it doesn’t matter. Boys 8 to 12 mostly are not going to be at mass for the best of reasons. It takes time. Don’t worry about it. Keep them there, expose them to good models, and gradually they begin to come around. By the time they are 16 and have been doing it for years, and have been given the task of leading the other servers, and so on, they take being at mass more seriously and are better men for it whether they become religious or not.

  72. Packrraat says:

    Our parish has 100% male altar servers. And LOTS of them. Almost all extraordinary ministers are male. All readers are male except for one. We have 9 seminarians from our parish and 8 women in religious formation. More vocations than any other parish in the diocese and we are not a particularly large church.

  73. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    If you all will bear with me for a few moments, and I beg your indulgence, Father Z, for going on a bit of a tangent, but I wanted to give a shout-out to those men, who even in this age of militant feminism, and of unreasoning attempts to eradicate all differences between the sexes, continue to exhibit in their daily lives the chivalry and the gallantry toward females, exemplified by the best of men – from the medieval knights to the brave and noble men aboard the _Titanic_, who gallantly gave up their seats in the few lifeboats – the pitifully few lifeboats provided – so that women and children passengers might board them, knowing that this selfless act would bring about their own doom in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

    Among such gentlemen of more modern times, it was unthinkable for a man even to mention – ever so innocently – a woman’s name in public – especially on the street or in a drinking establishment. Any man who did so was viewed as a cad – a man without the slightest idea how to behave, and therefore not to be trusted or admitted into the company of gentlemen.

    Of course, times have changed, and today women are very much in the public sphere, and the ordinary business of running government, companies, non-profits and organizations would grind to a halt if the rule about not mentioning a woman’s name in public were kept in force.

    And among the old school, no husband who aspired to be viewed as a gentleman ever breathed a hint of displeasure at his wife’s conduct – even if she were guilty of the most scandalous behavior imaginable. No gentleman ever said a word against a woman, ever. And if he were obtaining a divorce and announced this quietly to his most intimate friends, he would do so extremely briefly –
    probably a singe sentence – and in tones of regret. And not one of his friends who wished to maintain his status as a gentleman would respond to the announcement with anything but the clearing of a throat, perhaps, a sorrowful expression, a rueful nod of the head, and maybe, just maybe, the words, “sorry to hear it, old chap.” No questions, no follow-up, no remarks, “Oh! she was such a pain!” or “glad you’re rid of her.” The husband would, paradoxically, take issue with any such remarks about his wife – or about any lady – in his presence, even if they were well-deserved insults. And so, too, would the other men in the gathering be mortified and offended if one of their number issued any disparaging remarks about her.

    Of course, to speak of females generally whose actions or behavior were objectionable was not out-of-bounds, if the language used were factual and businesslike, and if the tone were sober and one of regret. But to descend into mockery, derision, personal insults against a woman, or against a body of women, would not be in the soul of any gentleman.

    Again, I suppose, times have changed. And women in public life – in politics especially – are mocked, derided, and insulted by their detractors. I still believe, however, that even today, a man gives evidence that he possesses the soul of a gentleman when, should the occasion arise, he speaks against the principles or political actions a female in public life, without resorting to personal attacks against her.

    All this care in the treatment of women, it is said, has its basis in the mildness and consideration with which our dear Savior interacted with females. Always, in Sacred Scripture he conducted himself with utmost gentleness and courtesy toward women, welcoming them even when His own disciples were urging Him to “get rid of her.”

    The medieval knights took this example to heart, and imitated it, and this tradition of chivalry and gallantry lived on, even down to our own century, in some circles. In the corporation in which I work, this spirit is very much alive, thanks to our founder, a real gentleman of the Old School, and his example of courtesy and deference to women has made its way through the ranks of management, and even down to the college interns, who never learned any such thing at home or in school. But they learn it in my company. (We women are so spoiled there. )

    Thanks for letting me share this little bit of history with all of you. I hope you weren’t bored to tears, reading it.

  74. Nan says:

    The three stages of altar server are altar boy, altar guy and altar geezer. Both of my parishes have all three.

  75. APX says:

    I can’t get over the disrespectful tone and language used towards the young girls who serve at the altar. Clearly the result of a poor-upbringing and bad example by their fathers who never taught sons how to respect women.

  76. Absit invidia says:

    Marion, many men boarded those lifeboats off the Titanic. 1912 as well as the roaring 20’s weren’t exactly sweetness and light. The notion that women can run roughshod over men in the 20th and this 21st century and expect safe quarters when they attack our institutions such as the sacred priesthood and male sanctuary roles is not to be had. Modern women of today should refrain from the sanctuary and put aside the notion that they are equals to men in even their roles – men and women are NOT equal in this regard. Yes, they are equal in God’s eyes, but modern women have pushed it too far of late and we are done with it.

  77. Gabriel Syme says:

    Dear Fr Brian,

    I don’t believe my post was “ageist” but rather realist. I do not think that ordaining pensioners sign of a healthy church, even although paradoxically it does show that the Church has some very selfless, dedicated and hardworking men to call upon.

    Do you not agree this situation has a “last throw of the dice” feel to it? Who will the Church look to next, once the supply of willing pensioners has been exhausted? Its a reasonable question.

    He is very much alive and has been ordained for service as a priest. Deo gratias. It is uncharitable of you to imply that he might have died before ordination of old age.

    Of course we thank God for every ordination, including this one. I didn’t mean to imply this specific priest might have “died of old age” before ordination, (that would be crass), it was a general point I was making regarding the Church training pensioners to be priests. I thought it was a fair point about longevity.

    He would not require an in-depth formation experience, to the extent that a younger man would. Nothing is being rushed through

    That is reassuring, and I am sure life experience will be useful to him in a pastoral sense. But I wonder are there not other factors of priestly formation which might be excluded (or given only lip service) by fast tracking men in this way.

    It is incorrect that there were several other men in their 70s studying with him.

    I was told by an excellent source that there were other men in their 70s, from elsewhere in the UK.

    You should pray for the success of his ministry as well as that of all newly ordained priests.

    Of course! I do and I will.

    Why should the Church insist on ‘struggling by’ like this. Let the Archdiocese allow for wider provision of the traditional mass, and it will have young men banging the doors down to become priests. It is known. When the fullness of the faith is offered, men come. Its a reliable formula.

    Ultimately, the way the Church is going in Scotland is not sustainable by any metric, ordinations included. I read the other day that that sunday mass attendance in Glasgow had fallen by 10,000 in just 15 years. Perhaps equivalent to the loss of a parish per year.

    We need to face up to this tough reality, if we are to reverse the trends. We can change things.

    Lets ditch the banal protestant liturgy in favour of the traditional mass, which reflects our beliefs. Lets ditch the obsession with ecumenism (a failure which has achieved nothing and has now actually become absurd, as the protestants roll out “gay marriage” etc) in favour of teaching Catholic truth. Lets stop needing to import priests and stop relying on inward immigration just to hold our place within society and instead let Glasgow flourish, by the preaching of His word and the praising of His name

  78. Imrahil says:

    Dear Marion Ancilla Mariae,

    no, I wasn’t bored to tears. I was, however, surprised to notice that, as you say, the times have changed – and in this case at least partially for the positive.

    Couteous behavior is a very good thing. Forcibly excluding the very topic of women from all leisure time is, however, a clear case of throwing the baby out together with the bathwater – and very discourteous to the female sex as a whole, in fact. (Nor can I believe that was how Catholic societies acted in such cases.)

  79. Imrahil says:

    Dear Kerry,

    specifically, how is a ‘female altar server’ better than no server at all? Would a woman occupying the role of the male priesthood, invalid consecration and all, be better than ‘no priests at all’? Would an Anglican or Lutherian (deliberate sic.) or Methody-ist priestess be better than ‘no priests at all’?

    Let me say first that I see how a parish or a pastor might conceivably suffer the evil of having no altar Server even if girls were present for the job: say, they think that only if the lack of Servers is really felt boys would actually bring themselves to show up, and so on.

    But in itself lack of at least a decent number of altar servers depending on the occasion is an evil, if only because of lack of solemnity, because incense can’t be used, candles can’t be carried, bells can’t be rung, the collect can’t be collected, the offertory is more inconvenient, and the rest.

    With your, forgive me, strikingly inadequate comparison you fail to see the miles-wide gulf of a difference which is between

    a) someone who validly can do a certain job, although authorities have judged it better that to be done by someone more appropriate (because of some, it is true, sensible and not unjust reasons), and

    b) someone who is absolutely unable to do the job at all.

    It is a), not b), that covers altar girls.

  80. albinus1 says:

    My son-in-law (father of 6) prefers to use the term Altar-Chicks…..however, Altarettes is good also.

    A friend of mine refers to them as acolettes.

  81. Thorfinn says:

    I will disagree with FrZ and say I do buy gretta’s comment:

    “My guys don’t seem to care one way or the other who’s serving with them, in fact, I’m not sure they notice. And by the time they will notice, they will have aged out of serving.”

    But therein lies a problem. If boys have “aged out” of serving by the time they notice girls – a very common practice as serving is seen as something for little boys and certainly not teens – what is the chance vocations are fostered in their teen years? [They OUGHT to be!] Religion is for children; [?!?] I get confirmed, give up serving if I haven’t already, going to Mass becomes (even more) optional, and I’m well on the way to living a purely secular life.

    In this way the phenomenon of girl servers driving out boys is similar to that of young boy servers driving out male teens & young men. [Nope. You are now way off the rails.] Traditionally, even in Anglican churches, boys sang in the choir until their voices changed, then they were old enough to begin serving at the altar. (I learned this from P.G. Wodehouse…) In the Traditional Latin Mass, altar boys have important, defined roles, and the older, most responsible boys (often teens or young men, or seminarians if you got ’em) are given the most important roles. [So, according to that the TLM is a better source for vocations.]

  82. Thorfinn says:

    Imrahil – “But in itself lack of at least a decent number of altar servers depending on the occasion is an evil”

    A congregation where zero men or boys (or anything less than “a decent number”) are willing to be altar servers is certainly indicative of spiritual malaise at best. It may take prompting, it may take training, it may take time, it may take challenge and prayer and sacrifice – but if still there is no one, it must be asked: where is the faith? Is sending a girl up to ring the bell any kind of solution for a parish lacking Catholic men willing to serve Christ?

  83. Imrahil says:

    Dear Thorfinn,

    thanks for your answer.

    As a matter of fact, I just intended to say what I actually said. The Argument presented above was a twofold one; first, you don’t need altar servers so really in any case, hence why take girls?, second, you don’t take a fake-priest, so you shouldn’t take a girl.

    It just so happens that both arguments are faulty, whatever we think about the cause they argue for:

    yes, it is an evil not to have enough altar servers [*], whether it be one to tolerate or no but an evil; and no, an altar girl does not carry any invalidity issue with herself which a Methodist preacher compared to a priest would.

    And that was all that I was saying.

    [* I said “a decent number” in order not to have to elaborate, but I was thinking along the lines of: one for a weekday, two for a Sunday, five for the chief Mass of the Sunday, many more for the Easter Vigil etc.]

  84. Mary Jane says:

    Absit invidia, now hold on. I don’t think any of the women/girls who serve at the altar do it with an intention to “attack” the Church. They probably have the best of intentions and just do not know better. It is now their fault; rather, it is the fault of those who alliw this sort of thing.

    I am against women/girls being altar servers, but I hope respect for the persons of these women/girls can be maintained in discussion on the subject.

  85. Mary Jane says:

    Sorry, typing from an iPhone. Meant to say it is not their fault, rather it is the fault of those who allow this sort of thing.

  86. Mary Jane says:

    Imrahil, you missed an option: someone who *can* do the job, but who *should* not do the job.

  87. Kevin says:

    My eldest girl started serving at the age of 8 after being invited by the pastor. Two years later I became aware of the history and potential problems associated with female servers. I removed my daughter after explaining these issues. She loved serving but excepted these reasons. Her two younger sisters were invited to serve also but having been made aware of the reasons why I had issues with this idea they declined. I was delighted that they all understood and took it so well, because the bishop who introduced this practice later expressed his desire for the church to entertain the idea of women priests. I wonder if this is often the unspoken reason for the spread of this practice.

  88. Absit invidia says:

    Where did I question heir intentions? I’m talking about THE MOVEMENT driven by powerful people with feminist agendas.

  89. Absit invidia says:

    You need to put the emotions aside and look at this objectively – nobody is questioning the girls intentions. They are pawns to a larger more sinister movement to emasculate the church to weaken Her and render the Bride of Christ vulnerable to attack. Nowhere did I question the girls active agreement and consolidation with this overhead agenda that they don’t even know about. You’re puttting words in my mouth.

  90. dr.Lloyd says:

    This is so true.
    It’s either girls or boys.

    Yet another reason why I only seek the TLM

  91. dr.Lloyd says:

    Bless you for this!
    Burke is a hero.
    A real inspiration for people like me who fail but want to do better.

  92. dr.Lloyd says:

    You are absolutely telling the truth!

  93. dr.Lloyd says:

    Far from repulsive.
    Feminism is cancerous.

    They should not be there. For centuries the altar was a male space. It should remain as such.

    Women get plenty of respect. They control most of the parishes in America, and are doing their part to destroy the Church!

  94. dr.Lloyd says:

    We need all feminists and leftists to receive a charitable and respectful censure!

    Yes we need those very boys you are vilifying!

    Masculine priests will teach the truth with vigor and honor.
    Effeminacy in the clergy of decades ago is part of the problem.

  95. dr.Lloyd says:

    Chivalry is dead. “Independent” women killed it.
    You either embrace tradition or you embrace feminism. You can’t have both. And that’s why women today are so miserable.

  96. dr.Lloyd says:

    It’s been an absolute disaster.
    With a few notable exceptions, female leadership is ruinous. Whether in polit Can (Angela Merkel and you know who come to mind) and in the parishes where baby boomer women wield 90% of the power.

  97. dr.Lloyd says:

    “Sexism” is a phony term.

    They are most definitely thinking about Facebook.
    Otherwise why are they on their phones so much at the altar?

  98. dr.Lloyd says:

    Exactly!

  99. dr.Lloyd says:

    I have four sons and a daughter. We go to the TLM exclusively.
    At ICKSP, FSSPX, FSSP parishes both in real life and online, I’ve seen veritable armies of young boys at the altar.

    I struggle with charity, so I’ll say first that you can still be a caring person and a good Christian and be wrong about altar girls, or at least that’s what I would guess? I’m no theologian and am as morally messed up as possible at times.

    Nevertheless I would never attend a parish with altar girls. The idea is offensive to manhood. Masculine leadership (not a macho caricature) has been a key part of Christianity.

    Islam grows and grows. And grows and grows and grows. The traditional Catholic orders grow and grow and grow. Leftist religions die out after a generation and a half.
    There are half as many Wiccans as there were in 1997.

    When uou have girls on the altar, it calls into question the ability of men to lead. Do we care about our children enough to tell them the truth about sex roles and why they are necessary?

    In my generation (.I’m 36) many American women are absolutely miserable. Women’s happiness has declined massively since the advent of feminism. 1 out of 4 American women regularly use anti-depressant medication. They can’t keep a man and end up being tossed around by players with solid game. Both men and women are lost today, but it’s feminism and anti-western animus behind it. This is why to me the Alt-right is so necessary.
    But of course I have no authority. My words don’t mean much objectively, but they are sincere.

  100. Thorfinn says:

    FrZ – “[They OUGHT to be!]”

    Yes. And won’t be if serving ends at age 10-12 as indicated in the post I was addressing. What teenage boy wants to join a group dominated, in most parishes, by pre-teen children, to the extent that an altar boy old enough to notice girls is expected to retire? This is the prevailing mentality in line with “take your kids to church through confirmation and then maybe LifeTeen if they feel like it”.

    FrZ – “[So, according to that the TLM is a better source for vocations.]”

    Yes, if I was not clear, that was the point. Younger boys do not drive out older boys *when they have a progressive increase in earned responsibility*.

  101. TonyO says:

    The notions behind the insistence on changing the custom of all-male alter servers were wrong right from the beginning, and from top to bottom. Nobody has a right to serve, it’s a privilege. The practice was (and is) a noble custom, not something born of a false male domination. The practice, like all truly deep symbols, carries so many different truths that it is almost impossible to state them all and so explicitly discounting each truth and each benefit is a hopeless project.

    Men are different from women. Society needs both. Needs them both to remain different. We cannot have a sound social fabric unless society reflects the truth in its customs and behavior. The custom of all-male servers works to serve, to protect, to draw attention to, to root in the human family, the all-male priesthood, which itself is necessary. It does this on many different levels, from many different directions, etc. Summing up the ways in which a custom of more than 1500 years duration positively affects the society in which it exists in a single essay is impossible – there’s always more to say about it.

  102. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Thanks to those who commented on my reminiscences about how a gentleman was expected to behave toward women. I should have added that today, every adult male is referred to as “a gentleman,” but it was not always so. A century or two ago, any adult male would describe himself as a man. And some men of superior background might be described as “gentlemen by birth.” But only a few might be assessed as “behaving like a gentleman.” It is about the last of these three that I was writing. They were and are rare birds, indeed; once, many aspired to be known as gentleman, but few had the self-control, the innate generosity of spirit, the guts, and the smarts to succeed. Which, I suppose, is true today, as well.

  103. The Masked Chicken says:

    Altar-chicks?? For real? I thought chickens were prohibited from serving. It is really had to hold the liturgical books with wings.

    Also, I can’t let this pass…

    Sconnius quoted the following statistics:

    “The USCCB said that of all the priests ordained in 2016, 78% were altar servers prior to entering the seminary.

    As for women, of those who entered the religious life between 2014 and 2015, the number who had been altar servers was less than 30%.

    So there’s a pretty positive correlation between boys serving at the altar and recognizing their call to the priesthood that doesn’t exist in women hearing the call to the religious life.”

    Okay, let’s take a population of 200 altar servers, 150 female and 50 male, in dioceses X. Now, if 78% of the males become priests, then that is 39 priests; if 30% of the females become religious, that is 45 religious.

    Take the case where there are 200 male altar servers and no female altar servers in diocese Y. Say there are 50 vocations that year. If 78% had been altar servers, then that corresponds to 39 of the altar servers having a vocation out of the 200, or 19.5% of the total altar servers, hardly a positive correlation.

    One must be careful in citing statistics to include sample size, distributions! and trends. The USCCB data proves nothing, because it reverses cause and effect. One cannot conclude that just because a large number of priests were male altar servers that a large number of male altar serves will become priests.

    Sorry, this is an elementary statistical error exploited by many in advertising. To prove a correlation, one would have to show that as the number of male altar servers increased in a diocese, so did the number of priests, repeatedly, over a number of years or, alternately, as the fraction of female altar servers go up, priest vocations go down. The USCCB data does not show this. There may be a correlation between male altar servers and vocations, but this is not the way to prove it.

    The Chicken

  104. Mary Jane says:

    I am sorry if I misunderstood you, but surely you can see how easy it was for me to do so since you said, “The notion that women can run roughshod over men in the 20th and this 21st century and expect safe quarters when they attack our institutions such as the sacred priesthood and male sanctuary roles is not to be had.” You used the words “they attack”, and “they” (in your sentence) references “women”.

  105. TonyO says:

    Take the case where there are 200 male altar servers and no female altar servers in diocese Y. Say there are 50 vocations that year. If 78% had been altar servers, then that corresponds to 39 of the altar servers having a vocation out of the 200, or 19.5% of the total altar servers, hardly a positive correlation.

    Chicken, you are correct that without additional info, the statistic cited does not prove that there is a correlation between boys-only serving and vocations.

    However, we HAVE additional info. For example, there are 70M “Catholics” in the US, but only about 25% attend weekly, so about 17.5M actual Catholics. There are 3500 seminarians. That’s a ratio of 5000 Catholics per seminarian.

    However, in the 2 dioceses that retained the male-only server custom after 1994, the ratios were different, (yes, year after year after year). In Lincoln NE, there ratio is 515 Catholics per seminarian, or more than 9 times as good. In Arlington VA (which only held to the male-only program for 10 years) the ratio has now drifted down to about 2600 Catholics per, though it was better through the 90’s into the 00’s.

  106. gretta says:

    “To put it quite simply: how many boys would be interested in playing football if it were coed? The claim that the boys “wouldn’t notice” or it wouldn’t change anything because things are different today is transparently false, as it is for altar service.”

    Cincinnati Priest, you actually just underscored my point. In the kids sports leagues where I have lived, young girls do play football, and soccer, and basketball, and swimming with the boys from a young age (kindergarten-4th or 5th grade). At some point the teams separate, but they certainly start off together, and play together for many years. And most of young kids’ other activities are coed. I’ve never once had my boys object to an activity because there would be girls there. Maybe that is simply a sign of the times – that there are so rarely activities for kids these days that are separated by gender that it just is not a big deal. But it isn’t.

    Regarding understanding boys – no, my experience is not “transparently false”, nor is it an anomaly, given that I’ve talked to a number of other moms about this. In my post I was trying to be very clear that I was conveying my own experiences of boys in the age group we are talking about and that my experience does not match the current narrative, but that other’s mileage may vary. However, it IS my experience, as well as the experience of others moms I’ve talked to – regardless of whether you believe me. It is not transparently false, it just does not match the “boys think girls are gross” narrative. The experience is real. Saying your researcher knows better because, “He deals with (reams of) data here, not impressionistic “experiences” of one parent and her two sons,” does not take into account that despite his research, my experience has been a different one and is a common one in my experience. And in general, despite my boys being servers, I think the connection between being a server and having a religious vocation is overstated.

    Chicken, I was making a similar point above. The statistics quoted are skewed in a number of ways, not the least of which is that women entering religious life these days are likely ones who come from families who would discourage if not forbid their daughters to be altar servers, whereas parents from across the theological spectrum encourage their boys to serve. So that in and of itself will skew the numbers!

  107. nycdreamr says:

    The only way to prove any kind of correlation would be to show that the long-term drop in vocations (going back more than 50 years) started to accelerate after girls began serving as alter servers. What’s more, it would seem at least the first 10 – 15 years would have had no impact on vocations as men in their 20s and 30s would have been alter servers before girls were permitted to do so. So unless there has been a rapid decline in the last 10 years, exceeding the rate of prior years, there is no basis to claim a correlation between girls serving as alter servers and a decline in ordinations.

  108. RJBennett says:

    Lots of girl altar boys.
    Fewer men in the seminaries.
    Um, is there a connection?
    Duhhhhhhhh.