Wednesday, August 24, 2011


All the Masses below are Papal Masses or other liturgy with Pope Benedict either at St.Peter's in Rome or elsewhere. Are we better than the Pope if we don't allow girls to serve???????


Anonymous said...

All those Masses are NOT at St. Peter's. When the Holy Father celebrates Masses during his trips, local bishops are rezponsible for the liturgical arrangements. Some do it with great success (remember the apostolic visit to San Marino), some not. There are NO female servers at St. Peter's.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The last picture indeed is at St. Peter's with the pope as he honored altar servers from around the world which included a multitude of girls. He blessed them all and as you can see some served the papal Mass at the doors of St. Peters.

Templar said...

Father, with respect, I think the Mass honoring Altar Servers is an exception to, and NOT the standard practice at St. Peters. And an exception should not a practice make. I think we can agree that it would be honest to say that as a rule, females do not serve at the Altar in St Peter's ordinarily.

Anonymous said...

(sarcasm)I think it's safe to say that, since the Pope celebrates Masses where P&W music, bongos, and G&P happen, that he also endorses these things.(/sarcasm)

I'd say this "evidence" is less than revealing. Is that last picture the only Mass as St. Peter's you can find with girls? If the girls are only allowed to serve nominally, what is the conclusion then?

Robert Kumpel said...

Father, you're the last person I want to get into any kind of contention with, so take this in a friendly way, please...

The pope permits the Extraordinary Form of the Liturgy, but, at least so far, he has never offered it himself since taking the Chair of Peter. If that's the case, who are we to say yes?

Seriously, the Holy Father permits a lot of things, but how much of it is his personal prerogative, we have no way of knowing. Obviously, he felt that receiving Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue was important enough to issue a directive that his communicants must receive that way. Evidently, he doesn't feel as strongly about altar girls. However, the canon still does not force any bishop to accept them and if a bishop prefers to embrace tradition rather than yield to novelty, he (the pope) will not interfere--evidence that he sees the other side of the argument.

I stand by what I said earlier. It is obvious from the statistics that serving at the altar creates a desire to become a priest in many young men. It is unfair to permit young girls to experience this same desire and "lead them on", when we all know that women will never be ordained as priests.

I have four daughters, two of whom are old enough to serve Mass. I have been approached at two different parishes with offers for them to become altar girls. They are not interested and I have politely declined the offers. No one in my family is wounded, hurt or oppressed because of this. My girls are being taught that they can do (almost) anything a man can do, but that doesn't mean that they can fit every role that is appropriate for men.

Just my take.

Anonymous said...

I have heard the arguments out forth here and the last few threads. but it appears, at least, that the Holy Father has not taken the opportunity to correct this practise. I can only wonder if he thinks it would be too personal while he is taking more profound steps with the Liturgy, and would not risk having people get distracted over this controversy. Maybe later, if at all.


GE said...

When my girlfriend moved to Italy, people she met were horrified when she related that she had been an altar server (the practice has, I gather, not exactly caught on there).

It strikes me as very disconcerting that practices can legitimately exist in parts of our days' Church that other parts consider absolutely scandalous, and that previous generations of Catholics would also have been scandalized by.

I know this question is not de fide, but it was nevertheless the constant practice of the Church for 1,950 years to not let women serve at the altar, not even enter the sanctuary! The Orthodox still hold to this and I understand that many of them take the acceptance of girl altar servers as another sign of the apostasy of Rome.

IOW, having female servers is not very ecumenical.

GE said...

And why is it that the Church has traditionally restricted the role of server to males?

I have no reference for this, so I have to rely on my intuition for my answer. But this is not worth nothing, because I firmly believe that the single greatest formative influence in most people's religious life is not catechesis or theological discourse, but the influence on the person's intuitive perceptions that is exercised by his participation in ritual.

Signs are extremely central to religion. When a Catholic boy sees his father genuflect reverently towards the Blessed Sacrament, he intuitively perceives that there is something special about What is inside that funny cupboard. And when he hears the bells pierce the silence at the Consecration, he immediately grasps that there is something unique about this moment, even if he hasn't read a word of the Summa.

In this scheme of things, girl altar servers muddle the waters. An all-male server corps accompanying a male priest appears harmonious and an unambiguous testimony to God's intention of a masculine priesthood. Having women serving, meanwhile, introduces an element of ambiguity: the congregation knows that women are not supposed to be priests, yet there they are, up at the altar all doing 'priestly stuff'. Very few are well enough versed in liturgy and theology to adequately grasp the sharp distinctions between the servers' roles and that of the priest's.

Should we be surprised if some begin to ask themselves why the girls cannot also be allowed to do 'the bits with the bread and wine'?

Bill said...

There is a most useful review of this issue on Fr. Z's site right now. To summarize:
*Diocesan Bishops can choose to authorize, or not, service at the altar by females.

*Just because another diocese has service by women, that doesn’t mean any other diocese has to have it.

*Priests cannot be forced to have females serve their Masses.

*Pastors cannot be forced by bishops to have female servers.

*There is an obligation to support the service at the altar by boys.

*There is a connection between service at the altar by boys and vocations to the priesthood.

*No lay person has the right to serve at the altar for Mass or any other liturgical worship.

These points deriving from a document from the CDW in 2001, I would say that it makes plain who indeed may say no.

Gene said...

The Pope often plays his cards close top his chest and he has been full of surprises...pleasant surprises. I agree with RCG that he probably thinks this would be a red herring at this point. God grant His Holiness long life...

Henry Edwards said...

I'm sorry, Fr. MacDonald, to see you base your back-to-seminary-days opinion here on a false premise. From Father Z's post today:

"Let’s take it one point at a time. First of all, the Holy Father does not allow Girl Altar Boys within his own Diocese of Rome. [But it happens anyway.] That should be enough to give pause to a number of people who currently see nothing wrong with the practice.… "

As the bracketed insertion, the Pope is sometimes disobeyed on this, but NOT in St. Peter's or in the other papal basilicas. He is sometimes sandbagged and surprised on the road, as happened in England.

In any event, each of your photos is misleading in one way or another. I respect you, and would prefer to see you support your opinion with honest and forthright arguments.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. A General Tecumseh Sherman post from a preist in Macon, Georgia goes by with a yawn yet we are beginning to draw lines based on boy versus girl altar servers. My, how far we have come.



Anonymous said...

With all due respect, General Sherman belongs to history. The issue of female altar servers and the message it sends is far more pertinent to our age. Count me among the yawners.

Templar said...

I love the Civil War, and contributed to other thread, but admit, the topic doesn't even come close to the importance of the subject of this thread. Altar Girls to me is no minor thing. Sure it's not up there with the two biggies (Distribution of Communion and Ad Orientem Worship) but it's still very important, and for precisely the reasons GE relates.