Allowed to serve

Allowed to serve

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • It was always understood by those of us in the Arlington diocese that if and when we ever were granted the Indult it would come at a price and that price would be girl altar servers.

    Since Bishop Loverde arrived to take the reigns of this diocese he has been trying to figure out how to let girls serve at the altar.  The rumor from what were considered to be pretty reliable was that he is opposed to the Indult but it seems that in order to make the
    “altar Chicklets’ easier to chew he relented and granted the indult.

    For those who say that girls on the altar is not that big of a deal I offer the following sent to me by a seminarian friend at a “Traditional” seminary here in the US:

    “There is an intrinsic connection between service within the sanctuary and men. It had always been the case that men could not enter into the sanctuary to serve until they had received tonsure & the cassock. This was not considered (strictly speaking) one of the (7) steps to the altar (as are the minor orders) but it permitted him entrance into the altar to which he was previously barred. It was only after tonsure that he could touch the sacred vessels with his hands (until then he would use a towel or cloth to carry the sacred vessels).
    In the wave of liturgical experiments that was the first thing to be tried (i.e. the intro of girl altar boys). But knowing how people would have been in an uproar and knowing it could not have been possible to theologically explain why a woman is substituting for a person who has recieved the minor order of acolyte they started off with just having women as cross bearers (since liturgically speaking one does not strictly have to be in any of the minor orders to bear the cross). But it had always been the case that acolytes always had to have received the order of acolyte before they could serve as either acolyte 1 or acolyte 2. It was only by lack of servers who had received this minor order that they first permitted tonsured men to serve and then finally they permitted other boys to serve.
        In the 1917 code and in the Latin Mass rubrics, and via some responses from the Sacred Congregation you will see that even at a convent women (and note that these are vowed religious women) the most they could ever do was make the responses and this was when it was vital to have a server for the celebration of the Mass.”

        The girl altar servers was started as an act of disobedience and I will argue that the fruits of this disobedient act can not be good. 

        Secondly, I believe that altar chicklets is only causing further scandal by misleading people and warming them up further to the idea that someday women will become priests which is of course impossible. 

        Thirdly, I concur with those who say that boys will not want to serve with girls on the altar.  I know my sons will not and I fully support them.  If it can’t remain an all male function then they will not serve at all. It’s a huge distraction and is unnecessary. 

        Whether or not there is a way to emperically prove that there is a correlation between boys serving at the altar and their decision to enter the religious life I don’t know but having girls serving certainly can’t be helping the situation.

  • As a resident of the Arlington Diocese I talked, blogged, and commented on this most of yesterday. Positions on this vary due to a few of key questions:

    1. Do you believe having girl altar servers will decrease the number of boys serving?

    2. Do you believe that fewer boys serving will lead to fewer priestly vocations?

    3. Do you think having girl altar servers causes confusion about the role of women in the Church?

    4. Do you think it is the boys’ problem that they find serving with girls unappealing and they need to get over it?

    If you answered yes to the first 3 questions and no to the last question (as I did) you are not happy about the introduction of girl altar servers

    If you answered no to the first 3 questions and yes to the last question, you are thrilled with the development.

    Perhaps the most puzzling thing is the system was working great as it was. Mutiple parishes had over 100 altar servers. Why was there a need for change? What positive outcome outweighs the negative for this change?

    Personally, I would give up the two Latin Masses per week to go back to only boys as altar servers. Though to be fair, Bishop Loverde never explicitly linked these two issues

  • “Who knew that until Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde announced that altar girls will be allowed in his diocese, ‘women were not allowed to serve the Church?’”

    I certainly will come as a postumous surprise to Mother (St. Frances) Cabrini, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa, etc., etc., not to mention our still wonderfully alive Mother Angelica, and the host of dedicated saintly and immensely intelligent women (many who are laypersons) all in service to the Church.

    Unfortunately, His Excellency has his prioriies backwards.  Female altar servers can be yet another distraction, though I must say that many are quite good and dedicated kids.  I must admit I allowed my daughter to serve mass and she was excellent and very reverent.  Would I again?  Only the Lord knows.  But I doubt it.

  • The term “altar chicklets” is unfortunate and degrading.

    A reading of the norms for Arlington servers, available on line, will show that girl servers are to vest in albs only, and albs are a form of the baptismal garment which is common to both genders.

  • Dom:

    Keying into a headline from a local TV station is an incredibly easy target. I.e., local TV reporters, God bless ‘em, aren’t reputed for in-depth knowledge or digging deep…

  • Well, yes, that’s my point. The mainstream media’s treatment of this story is very shallow and simplistic and is part of the reason such things become wars over women’s ordination and power in the Church.

  • “The girl altar servers was started as an act of disobedience and I will argue that the fruits of this disobedient act can not be good.”

    O felix culpa!  grin

  • What is unfortunate and degrading is that we had female altar servers foisted on the diocese under the pretense of “allowing women to serve” the Church.  That is a total bunch of malarkey. Women have BEEN heroically serving the Church for quite some time now and for the diocese to make a statement like that is wholly misleading.  Females serving at the altar is simply another novelty and a distraction.

        Bishop Loverde may post whatever he wants on that web page.  Fact is that in short time the altar chicklets will certainly be wearing garments other than this plain alb.  There will be no stopping their adding other things to it to personalize it or to show their support for some “worthy” cause.  When the Church can’t even stop some of Her most infamous renegade and heterodox priests, to include bishops, from wearing innapropriate and flat out sacreligious attire (rainbow sashes) what makes anyone think for a moment that there is going to be some new sense of order and discipline resulting in a draconian control on what these girls wear?

    Don’t kid yourself.  This is going to spin out of control in Arlington just like it did in every other diocese in this country.

        This type of nonsense is precisely why my family attends the Tridentine Rite exclusively.  I’m neither saying nor am I implying that the Novus Ordo is invalid but the potential for scandal and liturgical abuse is significantly less in the Tridentine Rite and that allows me to focus more on the sacrifice of the Mass.

  • yes, the coming death of the church, little girls with patens…*sigh*

    The Bishop has been reading the Way of Balance and harmony obviously, with such a “yin and yang” decision.


  • “Krejci co-founded the Nebraska branch of Call to Action,” —Richard

    But isn’t Call to Action now the Catholic branch of AARP?  Aside from the media ignoramuses, only CTA pays attention to CTA.  Well, and retired Bishop Gumbleton.