Tuesday, January 13, 2015


While I do not deny that Cardinal Raymond Burke is intelligent, loves the Church wants what is best for her, His Eminence does come across as reactionary and extreme.  One can see why Pope Francis has sought to distance himself from the good Cardinal and has removed him from the posts in the Vatican where he once had great influence.

My own experience with women in positions of leadership and ministry in the Church, administratively, in various ministries and in the liturgy has been positive not negative and in the two parishes where I have been pastor, not a stumbling block to men's participation or to the priesthood.

While I can understand how a corps of altar boys could be used as a recruitment tool for future priests, there are other ways to accomplish this as well even when girls are present as altar servers. I would recommend that even though the altar boys and girls are allowed to do the same thing during the liturgy, that they are separated outside of the Mass for formation, spiritual and liturgical with the idea of promoting vocations.

In my previous parish of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta which has had more vocations to the priesthood over the course of the past 30 years than any other parish in our Provence the presence of altar girls has not had a deleterious effect at all.

The same can be said for female readers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

In my parishes, I have had and still have women who are chairmen of the pastoral council and finance council as well as the stewardship council. In my previous parish a woman was the parish administrator. I've had sisters as pastoral assistants and CCD directors and youth directors, not to mention choir directors.

I thank God that lay men and women are now allowed to bring Holy Communion to the home-bound. This allows them to receive Holy Communion every week and sometimes more than weekly. When I was first ordained, before EMCs brought Holy Communion to shut-ins, our home-bound were blessed if they received Holy Communion monthly. In some places it was less frequently!

I think we can celebrate women in all these roles, liturgically and otherwise and not use it as a pretext for ordination of women to the diaconate or priesthood. And if the appreciation of the Sacrament of Holy Orders as exclusively male was present, this would advance recruitment of young men for the priesthood.

I often wonder if the expansion of the liturgical ministries of the Mass to females had been done organically within the older Order of the Mass and without major tinkering of that Mass by liturgists, if we would be in a better place today?

Now for some what if's which I realize is an exercise in futility, but I will do it anyway:

What if...:

Only the Liturgy of the Word was revised as we currently experience it in the Ordinary Form of the Mass but within the context of the Order of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form...

girls and women were allowed to be altar servers and EMCs in the EF Mass, but the formal ministries of lector and acolyte were given more freely to young men or older who could be good candidates for the seminary or permanent diaconate?

the vernacular for the liturgy was only for the changing parts of the Mass, not for the unchanging which would remain in Latin? (This would presume the exclusive use of the silent Roman Canon even in the Mass with the slight revisions I am suggesting.)

Holy Communion kneeling at the altar railing remained the norm but with the novelty of both forms of Holy Communion given by way of intinction (as done currently at the Vatican for special occasions).

The three hour fast remained in place.


Gene said...

So, now you are an apologist for women in the Sanctuary, your ambivalence is showing...

Anonymous said...

The very things you mention, Father, are some of what Bishop Athanasius Schneider refers to as the five liturgical wounds: Mass versus populum. Communion in the hand. The Novus Ordo Offertory prayers. Disappearance of Latin in the Ordinary Form. Liturgical services of lector and acolyte by women and ministers in lay clothing.

The things most disliked in the Novus Ordo Mass are lay readers and girl altar servers. I definitely believe that girl altar servers were a big mistake and it gives girls the false sense that they may be priests one day. Thankfully, the rubrics don't allow for girl altar servers or lay readers in the EF of the Mass. The whole symmetry of the Mass is destroyed by lay readers and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist - girl altar servers look totally out of place. Of course, at our cathedral the woman in charges advertises for "table setters" and I suppose in that context women can fit in if that is the image one wants to create.

It may depend on where you are but some of us have had exactly the experience that Cardinal Burke refers to: strident women taking over the parishes and role of the priest downgraded almost. I have seen these women run up to the pulpit elbow the priest aside and correct what he has said. The priest meekly accepting this.

We have a group of women at our cathedral who complained to the bishop about a number of good priests and got them removed. It is certainly no joke. Father, I am afraid you would not survive here in some of the parishes I've heard about. Even the hint of the return of altar rails and you would have been down the road.

One priest replaced the board of trustees when he became parish priest because they weren't upholding the Catholic character in this view. The women complained to the bishop. The bishop went to the parish and reinstated the board of trustees. The authority of the priest being seriously undermined by this bishop in several parishes.

It is seriously bad in some places and that is what Cardinal Burke is drawing attention to. Someone has got to stand up against the rot that has got into the majority of the Church and thank God for him. He has visited Australia recently and other countries, so he is in a very good position to have an overview of what is going on, and I am sure he is told many things, Father, that you may not be aware of. I'm afraid the Church is in a much worse state than it is in the USA, and that is what Cardinal Burke is conveying.


Rood Screen said...

Father MacDonald,

The primary reason the EF Mass and rites are attractive to laymen is not for the aesthetics or historical value of the EF, but because a layman can participate fully and freely in such liturgical celebrations, in full accordance with the prescriptions of Vatican II, but without the distractions of priestly opinion or ritual novelty.

Rood Screen said...

To say that the all-male sanctuary is misogynistic is to say that the Roman liturgical tradition is immoral. Women have rights which must be protected, but service at the altar is not a right.

Cletus Ordo said...

To recognize that there are great differences between men and women, that God is referred to as male throughout the scriptures, that Jesus Christ is a man, that women were not ordained by Him and cannot be ordained, and to recognize the deleterious effects of militant feminism is no misogyny. To call is such is to fall into the trap of modern, liberal thinking. We already live under the false assumption that recognizing homosexuality as disordered is "homophobic".

I have serious concerns when I see good priests allowing the purveyors of modern language misusage allowing such people to define us.

Gene said...

It has nothing to do with "misogyny"…which is defined as "hatred of women." That is just typical liberal overstatement in order to try to radicalize a reasonable understanding of an issue. Is it misogyny that women are not allowed in male bathrooms( well, at least, mostly)? Is it misogyny to believe that our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters should not be routinely sent into combat? Is it misogyny that women do not play on Major League baseball teams or NFL football teams? Is it misogyny to be against "free choice" and abortion? The maintaining and support of traditional and historical structures and mores is not misogyny. What is misogyny is the image of women portrayed by liberal Hollywood and media or the degrading of women and motherhood by pro-abortion and feminist groups. Feminists hate themselves and, therefore, all women. No one seems to be paying attention to that. I am disappointed that you would choose such an extreme term and cast yourself with the rest of the hysterical Left.

Anonymous said...

There's something seriously wrong, something emotionally immature, with guys like Cardinal Burke who talk obsessively about "manliness." We'd better not go there.

Anonymous said...

"While I do not deny that Cardinal Raymond Burke is intelligent, loves the Church wants what is best for her, His Eminence does come across as reactionary and extreme."

But what, pray tell, does any of your discussion in this post have to do with Card. Burke?

This is not merely a rhetorical question. I am truly mystified by your reference to Card. Burke in the context of this post, and would like to know what you were thinking.

Anonymous said...


The notion of girls serving at the altar is indefensible in the church's tradition both East and West! INDEFENSIBLE! Period. I thought you are for continuity and all these posts and rants about the disconnect in our liturgy are things that underlie these protestantizing changes in the Catholic mindset and ethos of our time. But girls in the altar because they serve well and reverently just like the boys? Come on Father! Have you become utilitarian just like the rest of the progressivist crowd? That something is so useful now makes it acceptable and can bend the church's regard for the matter? Let me remind you that altar girls were an abuse. AN ABUSE! That got tolerated like the abominable communion on the hand. And note that when the Holy Father did surrender to the progressivists when he gave the green light for those girls in the sanctuary, he also made known his mind that boys should be preferred!

So, pls stop being the poster priest for altar girls, Father. You are becoming inconsistent when you rant about the tolerated abuse of communion in the hand while you defend that other tolerated abuse of altar girls.

Ryan Ellis said...

In addition to all the (very correct) analysis done by OnePeterFive and others, there's a very good reason not to have altar gurlz, and every Catholic knows it--it just doesn't look right. Deny it all you want. It's kind of like seeing men kissing in public--you can tell yourself that you're open to gay marriage and all that, but you can't control the wretching that happens in your guts. It's natural law. Same thing here. It's against the Catholic liturgical instinct.

John Nolan said...


Can't you see that there is a contradiction here? Having women or girls serving at the altar is allowed (albeit grudgingly) but can't be spun as a positive thing - indeed, traditional parishes don't allow them.

A lay person taking Communion to the sick might be permissible in extreme circumstances, but since that person cannot hear Confession or give Absolution (which is required) I see this as furthering the disjointing of Confession and Communion.

Let's face it, Father, you can't get rid of the monstrous regiment of women who regard it as their right to invade the Sanctuary because you can't risk offending them. So you resort to a sort of casuistry. Sad, really, especially as you celebrate the Traditional Roman Rite whereat you have to tell your serviettes to get lost.

The Novus Ordo Missae was introduced in 1970. At that time and for some time afterwards we all knelt for Communion, it was only administered by the priest, and Communion in the hand was a liturgical abuse common in parts of continental Europe. You claim to be traditional yet seem to have taken on board a lot of (fairly recent) liberal nostrums.

Whether you celebrate ad apsidem or versus populum, whether in Latin or in the vernacular, there IS NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER for having women in the sanctuary.

Anonymous said...

“But what, pray tell, does any of your discussion in this post have to do with Card. Burke?”

My point being that Cardinal Burke’s interview did not lament normal and positive femininity in the form of Catholic women in the Church. Obviously enough, women have always played a strong role in the Church, and probably have constituted the majority of devout practicing Catholics throughout the history of the Church.

No, his lament was about something far more serious—the radical feminization of all aspects of the environment in today’s Church—from liturgical practices to preoccupation with feminist issues, as contrasted with either women’s or men’s issues per se.

This feminization goes far, far beyond incidental issues such as female servers or readers—which may be symptomatic rather than substantial--and arguably is due less to the presence of women in various roles than to the pervasive influence of effeminate priests and others in the Church who are preoccupied with feminist issues to the exclusion of core faith issues (such as genuine family issues).

Murray said...


With respect, this seems like pure chronological snobbery.

No Christian civilization up until about 60 years ago would have seen Cardinal Burke's remarks as anything but the merest common sense. Why do we arrogant late moderns think we (of all people!) are wise enough to overrule this Democracy of the Dead? What radical new revelation have we received that would overturn the accumulated wisdom of Christendom? What startling new things have we learned about the differing vocations and talents of men and women that should cause us to despise the lessons of tradition?

As for "reactionary", it is an entirely worthy label for a Catholic. We should seek to extirpate within ourselves every vestige of the erroneous, damnable liberalism that surrounds us, that has destroyed the distinctions between men and women, that is responsible for the mass murder of the unborn, that seeks to destroy the ancient faith and send humanity to hell. If Cardinal Burke can be faulted for anything, it is that he is entirely too gentle in his criticisms.

Cletus Ordo said...

It should be mentioned that the innovation of altar girls shares the same pedigree as Communion in the hand: DISOBEDIENCE.

Each of these novelties began as direct disobedience to the rubrics of the Mass and, in the interests of being "pastoral" (read: PERMISSIVE) the authority structure gradually broke down and made special permissions which became widespread permissions. This is the same strategy being used in the fake ordinations of women that happen every couple of years.

Anonymous said...

God save His Grace Cardinal Raymond Burke he will save our Holy Roman Catholic Church.

Православный физик said...

Men and women are complimentary. Each have equal dignity, but each have different functions. I have to say that I agree with the previous commenters as well.

Consistency is important, lamenting about the state of Liturgy in the western church, yet supporting things that came out as abuses is definitely wrong.

I believe Cardinal Burke to be correct in his analysis of what's going on. It's deeper than the mere symptoms that we see at the parish level. The biggest crisis in the Church is the state of her Liturgy, for without knowing who she is internally, she can't bring Christ to the world externally.

Rood Screen said...

I just wonder how long it will be before we must defend the separation by gender of the public toilets.

Rood Screen said...

I'll put it as simply as possible:

Calvary is the manly sacrifice by Christ for his holy bride, the Catholic Church.

The Holy Mass is the manly presentation of Calvary to the same ecclesial bride.

The priest acts in the manly person of Christ on the Cross, doing so for the sake of Christ's bridal Church.

Altar servers provide masculine assistance to the manly priests during Mass, doing so for the sake of the holy bride.

Therefore, the altar and its ordained and other ministers is a locus of masculine action for the salvation of the bridal Catholic Church. An understanding of the liturgical distinctions between the masculine and the feminine is essential to full, conscious and active participation in this Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

John Nolan said...



Gene said...

Shall we call it "gyno-liturgics"?

John Nolan said...

I don't know which suggestion is worse, putting serviettes and extraordinary monsters into the classic Roman Rite (where they would be as unwelcome as they are unnecessary) or inserting the Novus Ordo lectionary, with its unwieldy three-year Sunday cycle.

The Propers of the EF (which include the Epistle and Gospel) are intrinsic to the Rite and can't be substituted without severely compromising it. Nor is the new lectionary as marvellous as many would have us think - on the first Sunday of Lent this year we will not hear the gospel account of the temptation of Our Lord, since the compilers want to concentrate on Mark who only mentions it in passing.

'I think we can celebrate women in all these roles ...' Since when was the liturgy about celebrating women, or men for that matter?

Anonymous said...

I'm for keeping rednecks and racists out of the Sanctuary.

Anonymous said...

...and pompous and holier than thou men....

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I will defend Cardinal Burke. Yes, you read that right - I will defend Cardinal Burke.

He's not a misogynist, not are his ideas misogynistic. (I really don't think Good Father McDonald thinks he's a misogynist, either.)

I do think, however, that Cardinal Burke's perception of gender is inaccurate. I can't speculate on how or why he arrived at this perception - it would not be of particular use to do so in any case. His vision of gender-related characteristics skews his perception of women and, I suspect, of men as well.

Only one example: Burke has said, "“It requires a certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of [a] priest,..."

To be honest, I don't know what he means by "manly" discipline. I know what discipline is needed by altar servers, and I know that some are more disciplined than others. But it is wrong to suggest that girls, because they are not males, can't have the discipline needed to serve at the altar.

Anonymous said...

I think your dead wrong. Start playing around with the Extraordinary Form and it's all over. The EF was preserved from the BS for 50 years. And if you now open it up to Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, girls serving at the altar and a range of other OF nonsense, that will be the end of any hope for future reform. We will end up becoming like the Anglicans. You give the Modernists an inch and before you know it, they will find a way to have women serve as deacons and claim they do not need to be ordained. But with that said, what can a deacon do that any ordinary lay person cannot do? So, why shouldn't a woman share in the work of the diaconate? This is the reasoning of the modernists. You have limits, but they have none and will keep whittling down until there is nothing left and in fact the priesthood as we know it disappears. The can be no compromise. That is all we have done for 50 + years.

CFGtom said...


I think you are misunderstanding the theology behind service to the altar and the intimate connection between the young boy acting as a "cleric" serving the holy mysteries. There is a reason there were never altar girls in the Church and it wasn't misogyny.

Also Cardinal Burke is a hero of the Faith and to say that his recent article makes you understand Francis desire to distance himself is scary. Distancing yourself to the Truth boldly proclaimed is not to be praised.

Anonymous 2 said...


Thank you for putting matters so simply with the focus on Calvary. But now I have some simple questions: Where were the Apostles when Jesus was crucified at Calvary and then buried? Where were the women followers of Jesus? Or does it depend on which Gospel one chooses?

Anonymous 2 said...

Pope Francis said (Evangelii Gaudium):

103. The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood. I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because “the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace” and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures.

Then Cardinal Burke said:

“The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved. Men are often reluctant to become active in the Church. The feminized environment and the lack of the Church’s effort to engage men has [sic] led many men to simply opt out.”

Let battle commence?

Anonymous said...

So now have we all bought into the feminist claim that ours is (was, and is still?) a paternalistic society that oppresses women? Has anyone ever really examined whether the claim is true or refuted it? Was it ever true? Always and everywhere? I guess the adage is true: repeat something long enough and everyone will come to believe it is true.

Is is oppressive to women (girls) not to be altar servers? Really? Oppressive? Is it oppressive of women not to allow them to be priests?

In my view, women having more and more leadership positions has, in my view, not made the society better. I am seeing lots worse ideas coming to the fore, and more chaos ensuing. Can I attribute this to the inclusion of women in leadership roles? Can I claim it is a failed experiment already? (More abortions, more unwed mothers, fewer marriages, and you name it social ills.)

Why can't a group (such as the Church, or a corporation) decide they prefer the way men handle a role, because of the innate differences in the male psyche, formed by both nature and nurture? Why is that not okay? Men and women are not the same. Remember the Venus/Mars designation? Do we believe men and women are different in a fundamental way? Because feminists really don't, and seem to believe men and woman are interchangeable. (That belief, by the way, extended logically, has contributed to the homosexual marriage agenda.)

Perhaps we need to really examine whether feminism's claims are actually true. I doubt they are.

Rood Screen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rood Screen said...

Anonymous 2,

Thank you for posting these two complimentary quotations. Women should have a full role in the Church and in society, but they should dominate neither the Church nor society.

What sort of battle are you requesting?

Anonymous 2 said...


Isn’t the question one of balance – deciding which roles are appropriate for men and which are appropriate for women? Granted that the feminist movement has been guilty of excesses (and which movement hasn’t?), and on the assumption that there are appropriate leadership roles for women in secular society and in the Church, what do you think is the appropriate role of women in each?

Anonymous 2 said...


I am not requesting a battle, just speculating about whether there will be one (hence my question mark after the phrase). That, in turn, might depend on whether Pope Francis’s comments and Cardinal Burke’s comments really are complementary or (to some extent at least) conflicting.

Also, I was not meaning to be snippy with my two “simple questions” although I realize now it may have come across that way (my apologies for that). I am genuinely perplexed about the significance of those Gospel passages for the current discussion, and indeed of others that seem to demonstrate the pivotal (and for the times apparently counter-cultural) role of women during Jesus’s ministry

Gene said...

I have always thought that relationships between men and women were a matter of honor…get honor and stay honor...

Православный физик said...

Fr JBS, I'm afraid in California there's already a battle for gender neutral bathrooms.

Fr Michael J Kavanaugh, I agree with your point about discipline not necessarily being intrinsic to the male person. As I've often said, if altar service were merely a function, girls can and should altar serve...But as an extension of the priesthood, and they are there as substitutes for clerics perhaps if a compromise situation was to be reached. Girls could serve from outside the sanctuary...(as it was at conventual Masses prior to Vatican II)

John Nolan said...

I think Fr Kavanaugh's perception of gender is inaccurate. Gender is a grammatical term applied to nouns which are defined as masculine, feminine and neuter. If you want to distinguish male and female the correct word is sex.

This common misuse of the word gender is not simply a result of carelessness or ignorance, although both of these come into it. It has become a politically loaded word and for the sake of impartiality as well as correct usage should not be employed out of its proper context.

While on the subject of misuse of English, two commentators on this thread have confused 'complimentary' with 'complementary', a quite serious error which will elicit no compliments from me but which complements what I said earlier. For shame, gentlemen! Back to your dictionaries! (No names, no pack drill.)

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...


1. (n) gender the properties that distinguish organisms on the basis of their reproductive roles "she didn't want to know the sex of the foetus"


Gender: Sex, male or female.

Century Dictionary:

(n) gender Sex, male or female.

Gene said...

John Nolan is correct RE: gender/sex. Kavanaugh chooses modern sources which bastardize words, confuse meanings, and obfuscate on a regular basis. I imagine the Urban Dictionary is one of his regular sources…along with Wikipedia. We already know he relies on anthologies for his other studies.

WSquared said...

I think we can celebrate women in all these roles, liturgically and otherwise and not use it as a pretext for ordination of women to the diaconate or priesthood.

I frankly don't see how it logically follows that having women lectors and EMHCs means "OMGosh, WOMYNPRIESTS."

Father McDonald, I think you know my views on "womynpriests" (or whatever they think themselves to be) for me not to have to repeat them at length. But suffice it to say that I don't have any patience for misogyny, just as I don't have any patience for "womynpriests." What I really don't understand in all of these discussions is why the material aspect of basic sacramental theology almost never comes up. Is it one aspect of how we as a culture are pretty iffy on the Incarnation, anyway-- that, in the words of Pope Benedict, we think that God is "allowable" in the "spiritual" aspects of our lives, like ideas and thoughts, but when it comes to matter, He's "not allowed." But either God can act through matter, or He's not really God.

Kudos to Fr. Longenecker for recently expounding on the material aspect, and for explaining it far more patiently than I sometimes do, particularly when I'm just plain tired of hearing non-stop that somebody's hurt feelings ought to trump the faithful's right to a valid sacrament: namely, that incorrect matter means an invalid sacrament. You can say all the right words until the cows come home, but if you don't have the right matter, you don't have a priest, and you ultimately don't have the Eucharist.

We can make all the noise we want running either way, but nobody has the authority to change what the Lord has instituted, so it really doesn't matter in the end what anybody wants or thinks. In the end, a "womynpriest" is an impossibility. Game over.

Women have rights which must be protected, but service at the altar is not a right.

Thank you.

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh

Lexicographers feel obliged to reflect current usage, even when this is obviously incorrect and results from ignorance (e.g. those who say 'flaunt' when they mean 'flout'). I'm not disputing that it is now common to use 'gender' when 'sex' is meant.

Webster, in a passage which you declined to quote, makes the correct usage clear: 'Gender is a grammatical distinction and applies to words only. Sex is a natural distinction and applies to living objects'.

Those languages which assign a gender to all nouns do so regardless of any obvious sexual connotation (the Romance languages tend to follow Latin, but without the neuter gender). Thus 'chair' is feminine in French (la chaise) but masculine in German (der Stuhl). In French the sun is masculine and the moon feminine; in German it is the other way about.

One of the reasons why 'gender' has replaced 'sex' is precisely because sex is a natural distinction, whereas gender is more ambiguous; in can be seen as a matter of choice, and can be altered at the whim of an individual. If a man chooses to dress as a woman and call himself 'she' he is deemed to have changed his gender. He can even have this legally recognized. But the inconvenient fact is that he still of the male sex. Even should he undergo medical and surgical treatment to make his body externally resemble a woman's, he remains a male, albeit a castrated one.

George said...

John Nolan@12:48 PM

The sherry compliments the pastry-
I ask how can this be?
Unless we're talking imaginary,
It's complements don't you see?

Gene said...

In the same vein, I have two questions:
1. Is a person who makes allegations an allegator?

2. If the plural of goose is "geese," why is the plural of moose not "meese?"