Busting the Myth of Altar Girls and Female Vocations
In the past my posts on the correlation between altar boys and increased vocations to the priesthood have generated quite a bit of discussion. At times those who most vocally support the modern practice of girls serving express little concern over its potential detriment to priestly vocations. Proponents often assume that altar serving impacts female discernment in a manner very similar to that of men’s.
But is this really the case? And ultimately, is it even relevant to a discussion about altar serving?
The most recent CARA study of men and women religious making their perpetual vows in 2015 reported only 20% of women having ever served altar. Compare this to teaching faith formation (48%) and singing in choir (33%), and you can see that altar serving impacts female discernment much less than other ministries.
Women surveyed by CARA in 2013 and 2012 responded in a similar manner. In both years only 15% of those making their perpetual vows had ever been altar servers. Religious education, music, and social service ministries were all much more common formative experiences among the women surveyed each year.
Likewise, we can contrast this with men ordained to the priesthood each of the last five years, where we see between 70-80% having served at the altar. Of course this only makes sense as the altar boy is an extension of the liturgical function of the priest, something that inevitably contributes to the ongoing process of discernment through involvement.
Now think about this: the Italian slang word for altar boy is chierichetto, which means little clergymen. That about says it all.
We need not make this more complicated than it is. Vocations boom now just as they did in the past, where Catholicism is authentic and where truth, beauty and goodness are demonstrated. This tends to be where the sacred is winning over the secular.
Girls will continue to discern their vocation, either to marriage or to the consecrated life, the same way as they have for centuries-when marriage and female orders flourished: through personal piety and through authentic role models.
If you want to help young women discern their vocation, increase their exposure to thriving, orthodox, female religious orders, and not by involving them in a liturgical role intended to foster vocations to the male only priesthood.
Photo Credit: Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
Posted on August 1, 2016, in liturgy and tagged altar boys vocations, altar girls, cara survey of religious, female religious, perpetual vows. Bookmark the permalink. 100 Comments.
If every Catholic girl served at the altar, 100% of women making perpetual vows would have served at the altar. It’s a function of how many girls serve, not an indication of the effectiveness of serving in encouraging vocations.
And yet in some dioceses, girls serving outnumber boys now.
I’ve been to Mass in some parishes where every single server is female.
Be an interesting question to break down the numbers on this.
Richard I’ve witnessed the same thing at some of the Churches I’ve visited while traveling. I’ve also noticed that boys and men are happy to hand over roles to girls or women when they think it’s no longer a guy thing. The churches I’ve seen the most girl servers tend to a more modern or liberal strain and you’ll also note nearly all extraordinary Eucharistic ministers at these Churches are nearly all women. If it appears too feminine the guys just stop in the role and when it comes to Mass, studies have shown will eventually stop attending Mass altogether.
I’ve observed much the same things.
There is a correlation, as female alter servers are very common in some parts of the world now. Where they are common, female religious vocations aren’t typically more common and priestly vocations are much less common.
The reason why is because young boys are naturally put off by the presence of girls serving and won’t serve along with them. There are a number of very noble reasons why this is that makes for very interesting (it’s not because they are icky), but since more boys are put off from serving and since serving benefits boys more, there are less priestly vocations as a result.
Fr John Hallowell put a little bit of research into this by getting figures from a number of different parishes in America that switched from male & female servers to male only. The increase in the number of servers because of this is really pretty amazing.
I was really looking forward to some research but what you linked to are 7 self-reported anecdotes which don’t even control for population. As he notes, “I never said this was scientific.”
What are the noble reasons that boys don’t want to serve with girls?
John, the funny thing is that those who support the modern practice which permits girls to serve have zero interest in researching this…beginning with Rome and also the USCCB. The anecdotal evidence, the correlation demonstrated between boys serving and priestly vocations, etc. all point to the shared formative experience of altar serving held by upwards of 80% of our newly ordained priests in recent years. We also have correlative data that altar serving among girls does not generate religious vocations. Finally we have the common knowledge and anecdotal evidence that, where girls serve in great numbers, boys don’t.
Here’s one of several posts I’ve written about this subject:
I do not think this phenomenon is limited to religious vocations, serving, etc. It is culture-wide. Look at professions that women have become dominant in and what has happened to men viewing that as career options. Not universal, yet an obvious phenomenon one cannot ignore. Also, in children.
Too many times, I have watched my sons play with the boys and inevitably they get pushy and shovey and the usual aggressive stuff boys enjoy. The girls see the fun and want to get involved, but find they dont like the physical nature of all the rough housing. After some complaining or crying, Ive witness moms intervene and ask the boys to stop being physical and let the girls play. This usually results in more parent directed play to ensure the girls arent getting pushed or shoved. Shortly, thereafter the boys lose interest and stop playing altogether. This happens in my own house with my daughter trying to get in on rough housing with my sons.
Overall, I have no problem with the fact men and women/boys and girls are wired different. God made us that way. I just think pretending like we all like the same things, the same ways and to force this “equality” using suppression of who we are makes little logical sense.
“If letting girls dress up like priests helps them to want to become Nuns, then under that logic, letting boys dress up like nuns would help them want to become Priests.”
This is unhealthy logic and an example of how political correctness has crept into the Church.
If you really care about vocations, keep it simple and promote things like “Knights of the Altar” for boys in your Parish.”
This was just an awesome comment!
We have no altar girls at my parish. Not allowed. Lots of altar boys. Two of our lads were ordained last year. Most parishes can’t say that.
As it should be. Bravo.
I think there is more to it than just this. I don’t disagree with you, as I’ve seen it too. But these churches also support many other aspects of the Church that complement alter serving. I guess Im saying its not one thing. But male only servers is more a symptom of a faithful church leading to vocations and not the sole reason.
We have none at my college parish either. I wanted to get involved but wasn’t allowed. So I stopped going to the events. But it doesn’t matter how girls feel if there is nothing they are allowed to do I guess.
We have none at my college parish either. I wanted to get involved but wasn’t allowed. So I stopped going to the events. But who cares if girls leave the church.
When I was a teenager there was another young man who was a year younger than me who is now a bishop in the USA. While in junior high and high school, this other teenager was never an altar boy nor participated in any parish activities appropriate to his age (CCD, CYO, etc) other than participating in the parish choir for two years with his same-age male “friend” who later declared himself to be gay. The only thing the now-bishop had going for him then was that his father was a Colonel in the U.S. Army and had the money to completely foot the bill for his sons first four years of seminary since our diocese provided no financial support until the seminarian entered into graduate theology.
So, being an active and committed Catholic seemed to be irrelevant to the “discernment” of a vocation and the amount of money you had access to was very relevant to discerning a vocation and being accepted by the diocese as a seminarian.
So one anecdotal experience invalidates the aggregate experiences of hundreds or thousands of people? If it’s raining where I am can I therefore assume that it must be raining everywhere else at the same time?
The point of the “When I was a teenager” story was that “Novus Ordo” vocation directors and bishops do not see altar service as a sign of a vocation to the priesthood. I have seen this situation played out in a number of diocese. In the town I grew up in we have had two vocations to the priesthood in the last 40 years and in both cases (including the now-bishop I mentioned) the fathers of the future priests were in the top 5% of income earners making over $100K / year. Additionally, neither son was ever an altar boy in the local parishes.
“Novus Ordo” signs of a vocation:
1. Your parents have the money to completely pay for your first 4 years of seminary,
2. You have never been an altar boy or otherwise been active in the Church,
3. You are “good looking” and your vocation director wants to sleep with you. Again, in the diocese I was at, the vocation director would chase after the good looking, studly applicants while those who were physically plain were ignored.
The above might explain why we have had a sex abuse crisis of priests wanting to have sex with teenage males for the last 50 years since Vatican II.
Honestly, with John, Janine and you all, I am so grateful for this crystal clear article and an added fact on the objective clarification on why the traditional form of Altar serving should be rightly respected and promoted. I sincerely request you(Liturgy-guy) to post more articles on this item.
I humbly request of you more articles not because I don’t know where to get these vital objective information, but for the fact that:
1. Many a times, the argument is that the “Lay Faithfuls” are offended at girls not being permitted to serve. The “Lay Faithfuls”???!!! Who are they??? Who are these Lay Faithfuls??? The Lay Faithful I know, by the mercy of God, wants the traditional form to be maintained and promoted that is boys-men to serve at the Altar…for at meditating on this issue, it is not hard to figure out that the serving at the Altar is an extension of the Priestly duty…the Priest. Look keenly and serenely the Extraordinary Form of the One Roman Catholic Rite and you shall say what I am saying and even tell me much more. Yes!!! Therefore, it is only right that boys-men serve at the Altar. Even the Immaculate Virgin Who par excellence, by Grace, is the most blessed amongst all women would not serve at the Altar if I were to invite HER!!! And so, I ask myself, why would any girl-woman feel offended at being objectively refused an Altar liturgical function?
2. Many a times, it seems the Priest wants to lord it by refusing objectively that girls-women should serve! Almost being seen as one who infringes the rights of girls-women from serving the Lord! Maybe, you have heard this question: “Did Mary Magdalene (Later great Saint) not touch our Lord???” But I answer quickly and biblical too, was that episode in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or in Simon’s house? No!!! Kindly answer my little but momentous an interrogation. Let us be sincere and objective!!! And so I am very grateful that you (Liturgy-guy) write as a Lay Faithful defending and uplifting we stand for and so no one can accuse me now! Strongly hope so!
God bless you (Liturgy-guy) with more intellection and clarity so as to enhance more and more what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI aptly calls “intellectual charity”. Amen.
Your comment “We need not make this more complicated than it is. Vocations boom now just as they did in the past, where Catholicism is authentic and where truth, beauty and goodness are demonstrated” says it all. We have altar girls in the Colorado Springs diocese and a plethora of young men being ordained deacons and priests too. Thanks to our bishop, it’s never been a problem.
This summer, the Diocese of Colorado Springs ordained 14 men to the permanent diaconate, and two to the priesthood. It presently appears (per Bishop Sheridan’s recent comment) to have 13 men studying for the priesthood. In short, Colorado Springs is doing quite well with permanent deacons, but much less so with priests – and of course, it is only priests who can celebrate most of the sacraments, including the Mass.
Now, CS is a small diocese (178,00 Catholics), so one must look at the numbers with that in mind. It has 55 diocesan priests to serve 39 parishes, which is adequate assuming that the number of retired priests is not too high, though it means there can be very few parochial vicars to assist in the larger parishes.
In short – and no offense to you, or to Bishop Sheridan, who seems like an unusually solid bishop in certain respects – it is not at all clear that priestly vocations are booming in Colorado Springs. Permanent deacons, valuable as they might be, do not count in this discussion, and not just because it is impossible for them to be “young men ” (the thresshold age being 35). CS, like many dioceses, appears to do a fine job of getting older married men to become deacons, but appears to still struggle to ordain young men as priests.
By contrast, as Liturgy Guy has noted, The Diocese of Lincoln, which does not allow the use of female altar servers, has not much above half the number of Catholics that Colorado Springs has, but has ordained 17 men total over the these last two years. Likewise, at last check, Lincoln had around 50 young men studying for the priesthood. (This does not count the young men from Lincoln who have ended up with vocations with religious orders, or traditional societies like the FSSP, of which there have been an unusually high number.)
The vocations argument is not the strongest argument against the use of female altar servers. But it should be at least evident that it hasn’t done anything to actually help priestly vocations – or, for that matter, women’s religious vocations, either.
CORRECTION: You can be ordained to the “Permanent Diaconate” at 25 years old if you assume celibacy for the rest of your live. All Novus Ordo bishop have given the false propaganda that only married men can become permanent deacons beginning at age 35 in an attempt to pressure Rome into ending the celibacy requirement.
This is done, in part, to keep the homosexuals out, and in part, to have married clergy so that those who remain celibate are not suspected of homosexuality (i.e. a “smokescreen” around the celibates’ homosexuality).
“4. By the law of the Church, confirmed by the Ecumenical Council itself, young men called to the diaconate are obliged to observe the law of celibacy.
5. The permanent diaconate may not be conferred before the completion of the 25th year.”
“11. Older men, whether single or married, can be called to the diaconate. The latter, however, are not to be admitted unless there is certainty not only about the wife’s consent, but also about her blameless Christian life and those qualities which will neither impede nor bring dishonor on the husband’s ministry.
12. The older age in this case is reached at the completion of the thirty-fifth year.”
Code of Canon Law 1031:
§2. A candidate for the permanent diaconate who is not married is not to be admitted to the diaconate until after completing at least the twenty-fifth year of age; one who is married, not until after completing at least the thirty-fifth year of age and with the consent of his wife.
§3. The conference of bishops is free to establish norms which require an older age for the presbyterate and the permanent diaconate.
§4. A dispensation of more than a year from the age required according to the norm of §§1 and 2 is reserved to the Apostolic See.
Note the text you quote: “The conference of bishops is free to establish norms which require an older age for the presbyterate and the permanent diaconate.”
I just double checked, and the USCCB did take advantage of this provision to increase the age minimum to 35: “In accord with Canon Law, the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops establishes the minimum age for ordination to the
permanent diaconate at thirty-five for all candidates, married or
celibate. The establishment of a maximum age for ordination is at
the discretion of the diocesan bishop, keeping in mind the particular
needs and expectations of the diocese regarding diaconal ministry
and life.” (National Director, c.87).
And you are surely correct: what the bishops really wanted was older, married men, preferably empty nesters. Which helps to weed out “certain types,” in a way in which would be more difficult if you’re accepting unmarried twenty-somethings.
Of course, there are still dioceses which do not make use of the permanent diaconate (which is their prerogative under canon law) – Lincoln is an obvious example.
The “decrees” of the USCCB have no juridical effect because the USCCB has no binding legislative authority within the Catholic Church on anyone and its “decrees” are purely advisory or suggestions. This may explain why the USCCB is never taking seriously by anyone nor its radical / lesbian / feminist bureaucracy which writes all of its megalomaniac pastoral documents and has the US bishops rubber-stamp them (a clear case of the tail wagging the dog). For example, the USCCB could agree on and put out book length documents on the U.S. and world economies and war (something the bishops may not be expert on) but could not agree on the issue of “altar girls” (a purely church matter which the bishops should be expert on) until the U.S. cardinals bypassed the USCCB and pressured the pope to allow altar girls by way of “dispensation” (I think?). See Card. Mueller of the Holy Inquisition regarding the nature of bishops conferences: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/bishops-conferences-are-not-the-magisterium-vatican-doctrine-chief-reminds-cardinal-marx-70113/
The USCCB is a microcosm of the world-wide Catholic Church: It is an organization that has been totally infiltrated by International Communism / Atheism using its “soft branch / agent” of radical, lesbian, feminist, egalitarianism because it is psychologically impossible for men (laymen, priests and bishops) to ever criticize a woman without feeling ashamed and embarrassed. These men apparently have a psychological illness known as the “mommy” complex and don’t know how to say “no” to mommy.
“Witch burning” was the way that these type of women were delt with in the past but the modern Church does not seem to have any weapons available to deal with these women and is thus completely defenseless before them. These women are allowed to promote the worship of nature, Satan and Eastern religions (in other words, the whole Fr. Fox, O.P. and his witch “Star Hawk” nonsense) within the Catholic Church and the male clergy are completely silent before these heresies. Fox and Star Hawk are officially out of the Catholic Church but their legacy endlessly lives on within the Church. It took an act of Rome to kick Fox and Star Hawk out of the Catholic Church because their U.S. superiors and bishops were totally in agreement with and supportive of them.
The only authority a bishop has to submit to is Rome. At their consecration, bishops make a vow / promise of obedience to the Bishop of Rome and not to their local, territorial bishop’s conference.
So, as far as I known, bishops in the USA can ordain single man to the permanent diaconate at 25 and any restrictions on this from the USCCB are purely advisory. In fact, under the universal law of the Church, a man could be ordained to the transitional, celibate diaconate at age 22 – 23 and then discern that he is not called to the priesthood (i.e. stop studying for the priesthood or refuse ordination to the priesthood) and thus remain a permanent deacon for the rest of his life. As to whether a bishop would ever give him an assignment is doubtful since USA bishops have been falsely conditioned to belief that only married men can be permanent deacons. In other words, the married permanent diaconate was established to deceive the faithful into thinking that the celibate priesthood and hierarchy are not a bunch of effeminate, homosexual weirdos.
The Catholic married diaconate is also useful as propaganda in favor of the Protestant Reformation since, until the recent homosexualisation of Episcopal, Methodists, etc. churches, it was basically required that the Protestant male minister be married to a female. Catholic married deacons are a slap in the face to the Catholic Church’s celibacy requirement.
Last week, a woman surgeon removed a diseased organ from my body. The pain it was causing me was indescribable. I don’t have any more pain. I’m a cradle Catholic that was steeled in the ancient rites of the Council of Trent. Reflecting on what that woman surgeon did for me last week, I have no objection to competent women performing any and all liturgical functions in the Body of Jesus, the Church. To say that Jesus has set His will against women ministering to His Body because it’s a “Men Only” function, IMO, is faulty reasoning.
Your reasoning makes no logical sense. It is a non sequitur. A woman performed surgery, therefore a woman should be a priest makes as much sense as my daughter rides a tricycle, therefore she should be a priest. One does not logically flow from the other. If Jesus had wanted women to be one of his chosen twelve, he would have included a woman. He did not. And don’t even bother with the “Well, he was bound by social conventions of the time,” because he certainly had no problem with ignoring other social conventions. Once again people think they know better than God.
Judy, you say that Christ ordained twelve men to be his disciples and begin his hutch, which is true, but why does that mean that women cannot be a part in continuing the church? You say that if Jesus wanted to include females in his twelve at the time, he would have, and I agree. But that doesn’t mean that because he didn’t hand pick any women then, that he wouldn’t now. Jesus himself did not pick men who were born in America, so does that mean everyone who was born in America can’t be priests? He didn’t pick men whose names were Harry or Raphael or Marcus in his twelve, so does that mean Harrys and Raphaels and Marcuses can’t be priests? The ability to be a priest should primarily based on one’s faith, not their genitals.
I’ve made a comparison between “physical” body, and its health, and “spiritual” body, and its health. There is no “non sequitur” here. If the prohibition of women receiving Holy Orders is part of the Deposit of Faith-irrefutable and unchanging Roman Catholic Dogma, which if by denying or opposing will send a person to hell-then by all means it is out of the question. In “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” the Holy Father calls the ordination of men-only, a “tradition,” and did not come right out and say that ordaining women is contrary The Catholic Faith. Why didn’t he, his predecessors, or his successor, do this? It would shut down-to the satisfaction of all-this unfortunate controversy.
“Why didn’t he, his predecessors, or his successor, do this?”
But John Paul II did. “I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” (Ordinatio Sacederdotalis 4)
And: :This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.” (Responsum ad Dubium, October 28, 1995, Concerning the Teaching Contained in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith)
The Church is not the EEOC. Join the Unitarian or Anglican churches if you want women doing everything. Christ only offered the episcopate and priesthood to “men.” Do what Christ did and not what radical feminists, communists, anarchists and Satanists tell you to do.
I found this really interesting and relevant to my situation. I have been thinking about the religious life ever since I was a young girl. I started altar serving in 3rd grade, but now thinking upon that, it was from then that I began to not want to think about the religious life or about becoming a nun. I was in a period of constant denial and did not feel at all at peace. Then, last summer I discovered the rich and beautiful Traditions of the Catholic Church; the Traditional Latin Mass, only male altar servers, Eastern rites, etc. I began to stop serving at Masses and just play the piano and organ, and it just so happened that last summer was when I once again began to be open to the religious life. And currently, I am hoping to enter a convent after graduating senior year, so please pray for me! Also, thank you so much liturgyguy for writing these amazing blog posts!
I feel that if it comes down to whether or not you have female alter severs, then there are bigger problems in the parish than just that. My parish has 7 men in the seminary and we have male and female alter servers.
Kat, here is another post establishing the tradition and the relevance of a male only server policy. Please take a look. Also, if you don’t mind me asking, which parish do you attend? It’s rather unusual for one parish to produce seven seminarians all at the same time. I’m not sure if I know of any other that can claim that.
I always wonder what would really have happened if I had not changed Catholic schools in 6th grade. My piano teacher, Sister Angela, was my best friend. Since we had no piano at home I went to the convent to practice every day except Sundays before mass. Saturdays I stayed to help the nuns with their chores. I loved it. I wanted to go from 8th grade right to the convent. Then we moved and my exposure to the religious life ended. When I mentioned it to the “new” nuns, I was told I wasn’t smart enough. I am now happily married with two kids and two grand kids. Marriage turned out to be a good vocation for me but sometimes I wonder how it would have been if I were a nun.
Probably not good at all because it would have been your will, not God’s. I truly believe you followed His will. How beautiful! And you have the family to prove it. Blessings!
Yet another way for people in the Catholic Church to put women down… Girls should have the same opportunity to participate in Mass as altar servers as boys should, just as they should have the opportunity to be lectors and Eucharistic ministers. Girls do not deter boys from becoming priests because they’re altar servers; if that’s the only reason a boy won’t become a priest than he clearly isn’t in line with his faith.
Honestly. It’s 2016. The Catholic Church needs to make steps into the modern world where women and men are equal.
“Girls should have the same opportunity to participate in Mass as altar servers as boys should.”
On this logic, why shouldn’t women have the same opportunity to participate in Mass as a priest as men should?
And that itself is a very good question, Richard. There’s no basis for the Catholic Church’s refusal to allow women the opportunity to serve their faith and their God like men do
I appreciate the consistency of your logic, Katie.
Katie, since you propose to reject the immemorial male priesthood of the Catholic Church, and all Orthodox churches too, you might want to back up your view with an historical precedent, traditional example, scriptural references, Catholic theology, or ontological argument. Otherwise you are expressing a view “simply because”, which is rather immature for such a serious topic.
But that’s exactly my point, liturgyguy. There’s nothing out there to say that women can’t be priests except the tradition of the Catholic Church. There’s no scripture in which Jesus said that priests can only be men. He picked his twelve disciples because of their character, because of their faith, not because they had penises. He picked those twelve because they would be tested and they would be tried, but in the end they would be the beginning of the Church. There’s nothing to support the fact that women shouldn’t be priests because it’s an old, sexist tradition of the Church which, I regret to say, is dwindling because of some of its fated traditions such as this. If given the opportunity to lead the Church, women could bring insight and experiences to Catholicism that simply aren’t allowed today.
So you’ve already left the Church? If not formally, at least at heart. You speak as the Protestants did on the sixteenth century. You are your own pope; your own Magisterium. The priesthood in scripture is male. The priesthood, as it is a continuation of Christ’s very real incarnation, is male. Our Lord had a human form and it was male. His apostles were male. What you express, yet again, is your opinion and comes from nothing but a place of disobedience. You cite nothing to support your erroneous view.
“He picked his twelve disciples because of their character, because of their faith, not because they had penises.”
But why do you assume that?
Were the odds that low that he could not find even one woman in all of Roman Palestine of sufficient character and faith? Even among the many devoted women followers Scripture speaks of (women who were, indeed, more faithful at Easter than the men were)?
If Christ meant it to be open to women, how was it the universal understanding of His disciples from Pentecost onward, through all the generations of the Early Church, that only men were to be ordained as priests?
“…the Church which, I regret to say, is dwindling because of some of its fated traditions such as this.”
But is that, in fact, why it is shrinking?
Because if it is, I am left to wonder why the Episcopal Church, which now counts women as over 34% of its priests (and nearly as high among bishops) is on track to extinction; the Church of England, where percentages are catching up, is, in the words of former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, destined to be “extinct” in 20 years; the Presbyterian Church-USA has ordained women for 60 years, is almost dead even among genders, is declining at an even faster rate. The list could go on and on. There is not a single notable Protestant denomination that ordains women that is not shrinking at a high rate.
Ours is a secularizing age. But this does not mean that churches rebuilding their entire theologies to reflect contemporary gender role views (or other material concerns) will find buyers for what they’re selling. The evidence suggests strongly that they do not.
Very well said Richard.
It was a universal understanding because historically, factually, men have been sexist. Men have assumed a position of power over women, have degraded women, have thought of women being seductresses, have claimed of women being “the weaker sex”. That’s just how life was when the disciples were given the task of building Christ’s Church, and so tradition was built around sexist ideals. Others say that priests should only be men so that they can act as Christ on the altar, but shouldn’t we all be Christlike? Was Christ’s sex the most important thing to remember about him? If we’re basing the traditions of our faith on trying to be as much like Jesus was at the beginning of our Church or in instances like the Last Supper, why are we considering the fact that he was male to be the most defining? Using that logic, the logic that Jesus was a man, should we then go further and say that since Jesus and his disciples were from the Middle East, only Middle Eastern men can be priests? Jesus was born of the Blessed Virgin Mother; therefore, should we only allow those born of virgins be priests? Jesus wore long garments and didn’t speak a lick of English, so should we ban all those who do so from being priests? I respect and have faith in the Church that has been established, but I merely don’t see logic behind the basis for only allowing men to be priests. In determining whether someone should be a priest, the Church first places the sex of someone in front of how strong their faith is.
And I’m not saying that the Catholic Church should make women priests because other churches have done so in the past. And perhaps the numbers of believers are dwindling in those churches too, but not necessarily because they have female priests. I’m not versed in every tradition and belief of every single faith in our diverse world, but perhaps a huge indicator of why these Faith’s are becoming less prominent is the fact that Jesus did indeed start the Catholic faith, and those religions broke off from core dogma of Catholicism. You might say that including the priesthood belonging to men would itself be a break such as those, but in what way would having female priests change the Catholic Church on the same level as something like denying Christ’s divinity and humanity? Or not accepting that the Eucharist is his body and blood truly, not representing him? There are women in our Church today who are more faithful than men, and to keep their faith hidden behind constraints that men have placed in women is a shame and disappointing.
By the way, it was no coincidence that Saint John Paul II released his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in May 1994, only two months after the Congregation for Divine Worship released their letter permitting altar girls. St. John Paul II wrote definitively:
“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
Re: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis:
Of course, with Katie’s posts (no offense, Katie), I fear you can see a variation of the same response to that decree: It’s man-made rule, and could be overturned in the future. Which is why hundreds of theologians in 1994 raced out of the gate trying to split the hairs of the text to deny that it was infallible. With the bar set ever higher – i.e., well, even if he did declare it with the word “infallible,” it’s only infallible if it is universally received by the faithful. Which of course would make a hash of most of the Christological and Trinitarian doctrines of the Early Councils, just for starters. (Funny how this rule would never work the other way – these theologians would never insist that universal reception was needed for a promulgation of ordination of women.)
But as for altar girls: One does get the depressing sense from the timing of a tradeoff being made: “We’ll make it definitive that women cannot be ordained, but we’ll throw a sweetener in to allow altar girls.”
Why can’t I become a nun and wear the traditional veil, wimple and habit even though I am a man? I want my rights under the EEOC and the radical lesbian, feminist agenda.
“But as for altar girls: One does get the depressing sense from the timing of a tradeoff being made:”
The story I recall on this is that Cardinal Bernadin of Chicago got all the other active USA cardinal to lobby the Pope, in-person and at the same time, regarding altar girls. It has been reported that this is the one and only time that all of the USA cardinals have ever acted in unanimity thanks to the workings of the radical, lesbian, feminist, Satanists who control the USA cardinals.
John, you make a mockery of what I’m saying by suggesting that men don’t have the opportunity that women have as nuns. However, men can become brothers of the Church, dedicating their lives to a certain aspect of faith by choosing an order that they are called to, just like women can select an order. However, women cannot have any position of power in the Church like priests, bishops, cardinals, and the Pope can wield. It’s a dated tradition based on a sexist history.
Katie wrote: “women cannot have any position of power”.
The Church is now about “power” but service to the Lord. Your quest for secular power through the Church is totally deficient theology.
If you want power start your own company / church and hire only women.
Clearly, John, I don’t mean that women are seeking this “secular” power in the Church. Using context, I was hoping you would derive that from “power” I meant that women don’t have the opportunity to be leaders of the Church and speak for the Church to the rest of the world like men do. Women cannot spread their faith to others and lead churches and give homilies and minister all of the sacraments and establish the Church like men do. That is the power that men have, that is the opportunity that men have to lead the Church. Next time, I will be more deliberate with my words so that you can understand.
Katie wrote: “women cannot have any position of power”.
Correction: The Church is not about “power” but service to the Lord. Your quest for secular power through the Church is totally deficient theology.
If you want power start your own company / church and hire only women.
Okay about joining the brotherhood:
Why can’t I become a nun in a women’s community and wear the traditional veil, wimple and habit even though I am a man? I want my rights under the EEOC and the radical lesbian, feminist agenda.
If women can become priests and wear men’s / priest’s clothes, then why can’t I become a nun / sister and wear a nun’s traditional habit because it is about the charism and not the sex of the nun, right?
I wouldn’t really consider the garments of priests, nuns, or brothers to be based on their sex, John. In all honestly, they’re pretty similar: long, draped robes. I don’t care if you wear long draped robes; go for it. But you shouldn’t diminish the role of a religious-ordained person simply to what they wear. Some don’t even wear traditional habits but that’s okay! It’s not about what you wear, it’s about your faith. (P.s. Are you the type that believe that women shouldn’t wear pants because they’re “men’s wear”? ;))
Authority: Christ did not ordain any women to the episcopate or the priesthood. Is that enough authority?
To John H.: The Roman Catholic Church must proclaim and declare, publicly and universally that “If anyone declares that women are able to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders validly, and aid and abets this cause, contrary to the Will Of Jesus, God Almighty, Anathema Sit.” Surely this statement would put an end to what seems an interminable argument which is laced with loads of hard feelings.
“Franklin P. Uroda | August 11, 2016 at 5:46 pm
To John H.: The Roman Catholic Church must proclaim”:
See wikipedia on Anathemas: “The 1983 Code of Canon Law, which is now in force, does not contain the word “anathema”, and the Pontificale Romanum, as revised after the Second Vatican Council, no longer mentions any particular solemnities associated with the infliction of excommunication.”
In other words, the Catholic Church can no longer protect the faithful from heresy because it would hurt the “feelings” of the Devil and “feelings” are the most important thing in the Vatican II Catholic Church.
Women and men are equal in human dignity, but in a number of respects they are NOT equal.
For instance, physical and emotional characteristics of males and females are NOT equal. This is why the Olypmics has mens’ and womens’ divisions and also why there are things like “girls’ nights” and “man caves.” That might all come off as sexist, but I encourage you to really consider the reality at hand.
Regarding the priesthood… the best explanation I’ve heard was from a Jesuit seminary professors of mine who explained that the New Testament clearly describes Christ as the Bridegroom (John 3, Matthew 25, etc). A priest is an alter Christus, another Christ. It would be weird and unfitting, to say the least, for a priest to be female, because a female cannot be a bridegroom.
That does not even take into account the Old Testament account of the priesthood, which of course differs from the priesthood of Jesus Christ in key respects but which is nevertheless an antecedent in virtue of the fact that the OT priests presented sacrifice to God on behalf of the people.
It would be against the feminine genius to try to stick it into a box in which it doesn’t belong. This is what the “woman priest” movement does. Mary is the model for women, and she is the *most exalted* saint the Catholic Church has ever put forward for veneration. She was not a priest, and she was ok with that.
May God bless you.
I will take this one step further and say that I think altar serving is detrimental to girl’s discernment of vocation. To be in an “apprentice” position for a job which one can never has leads to confusion and frustration. We are only now getting to the point of grown women who grew up in an accepted environment of altar serving, but I would like to see a study comparing vocation contentment among grown women who altar served and those who didn’t.
Just to add a bit of experiential evidence: I was one of the first altar girls in my parish, being told by adults that I should sign up because “women have a right to be on the altar.” The thought of becoming a nun was in the back of my mind at the time, but died out through a greater concern for the world than for God. Embracing many feminist notions, it was not till I experienced the beauty of the complimentary nature of man and woman through marriage that I began to see what it means for the Church to be the Bride of Christ, and the significance of men being called specifically to give their lives in service to Her. With the loss of my husband (KIA some years ago), I am now preparing to enter religious life. I am grateful for the grace of marriage in revealing the falsehood of the perspective that I learned as an altar girl (that women were not appreciated and that men just care about holding onto power). It was in having the opportunity to grow in love of praying the mass in the pews and in discovering the joy of service as a Sacristan that my heart was formed to desire to give myself completely to Christ. It saddens me that so many women (and men) think it is better to seek power rather than to be a handmaid of the Lord.
God bless you, Ann as you enter religious life!
In any event, I do wish adults were more appreciative of our servers instead of, at best, ignoring their gifts of service, and, worse, often fault-finding.
I have yet to see female altar servers in any of the masses televised from St Peter’s in Rome.
I do know they have a transgendered (i.e. boy and girl) altar server’s rally in Rome every year where all the servers can wear their vestments at Mass in St. Peter’s. The current statistics on attendees is 60% female, 40% male with the males rapidly on the decline.
See, for example: https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/two-notes-rome-rally-altar-boys-and-girls
Sounds like the author thinks we should return to the time when the priests thought every woman was either a nun or in the kitchen, barefoot., and pregnant.
Thank you for adding nothing to the conversation. Please step away from the grown up table now…
Now that you’ve asserted personal moral superiority over 20 centuries of Church history, it looks like your work here is done, Albert.
I was an altar girl and I greatly benefited from it. I think it really helped me understand the Mass. I now am married with four kids and run the First Sacraments program at my church. I truly think that having served as a kid, I am better equipped to explain the Mass to my kids and students. I think there were are fewer boys going into the priesthood because of society. We live in a very secular world. I think that the priests that we are getting the last few years are fantastic and I think the numbers will increase. We went through a dark time in the Church awhile there but I have hope for the future. It seems like people are developing a deeper appreciation for the sacraments and the mass instead of going to mass because of the homily or whatever
Katie wrote: “(P.s. Are you the type that believe that women shouldn’t wear pants because they’re “men’s wear”? ;))”
Michael Savage, in his radio program (Savage Nation, see: http://www.michaelsavage.wnd.com) last night mentioned to his wife that the Islamic burka-clad Saudi women he saw this week on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills CA was less offensive that the American female hookers who work in that area.
The burka is similar to the nuns habit so maybe Islam is not all bad.
My point is are you going to be consistent?: If you are going to argue for females to work in male ordained ministry you need to be consistent and allow men to work in female-only religious orders including allowing men to wear the traditional habit of female religious orders. In all the Protestant sects that allow woman ministers, the women immediately start “aping” the men’s ecclesiastical dress as soon as they receive ordination.
Men’s oppression is hated but men’s clothes are not hated?
To be honest, John, I’m having trouble following your logic here. The dress of Islamic women is in no way offensive, so I don’t understand why that has been brought up. And in no way did I suggest that men and women cannot join the same religious orders. It’s very similar to how there are mixed fraternities on college campuses now that welcome male and female students. I have no problem with men wearing habits or wimples. I also don’t understand what you mean by women “aping” men’s dress. Women can wear pants; it’s okay. It’s socially acceptable, so I don’t get what you mean to say by using the word “aping”.
Finally, your last sentence just really confused me. You state that “Men’s oppression is hated but men’s clothes are not hated?” as if you don’t understand why oppression by males is hated. If you don’t understand why women (or any other oppressed group) don’t enjoy their oppression, you should do a little bit of research on the definition of oppression and read about the instances of oppression throughout history to understand how terrible they are.
Katie wrote: “so I don’t get what you mean to say by using the word “aping.”
The sociological issue being raised is people who falsely perceive themselves to be of “low status” (i.e. women) always looking up to and trying to copy the behavior and dress of those they perceive as “high status” (i.e. men). You will notice that everyone thinks it is weird for men to want to assume the traditional work of women (nun, nurse, day-care center worker) and what is even weirder is for the man to want to assume the clothing traditionally associated with those occupations. The sociological reason that it is considered weird by society is it appears illogical for a men (high status individuals) to want to assume the work and clothing of women (low status individuals). So actually, men assuming the occupations and dress of women is a great sign of solidarity of men with the liberation of women from male patriarchy.
If we are “truly” liberated according to poststructural feminism (see wikipedia: “there is no universal single category of “woman” or “man” “), it should not matter what occupations we choose and what clothing we wear as an outward sign of our working in that occupation and our identity as a man or woman.
The concept of the “interchangeability of men and women” is a product of the French Revolution of 1789, the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Vatican II Revolution of 1963 – 1965 (e.g. Lumen Gentium spouting radical, Marxist, communist egalitarianism and the “nobility” of man, i.e. no original sin). Each of these revolutions was conceived as a “remaking” of society primarily through the instrument of destroying and obliterating the old society (i.e. “old think” to use the terminology of Orwell’s novel “1984”). The main focus of destruction in each of these revolutions was “the family” by telling women, that to achieve “liberation,” women:
–could work in any occupation they wanted,
–did not need to get married,
–could sleep around all they wanted,
–did not have to take care of their own kids (government day care and welfare for out of wedlock children). At one time in America, pre-1960s, it was totally unthinkable for a mother to even consider allowing complete strangers to take care of her children all day long while she was at work. Normally, extended family (grandmothers, aunts, cousins) or an immediate neighbor-lady next to your house, took care of the children of working mothers.
The U.S. economy has now been structured to absorb all of these women workers which has had the net effect of depressing wages for men where up until 1965 a man could earn enough to support a wife and children and now in 2016, with both a husband and wife working, they barely earn enough to support themselves and their children.
The “altar girl” controversy is simply a symptom of larger leftist, communistic, atheistic and radical egalitarian forces at work which are trying to destroy society by destroying the institutions of society (i.e. the family, the church, etc.).
P.S.: Who knows when it was the first time in the USA when altar girls wearing men’s / boy’s cassocks and surplices were wrongly allowed to serve at Mass? The answer I have: 1964. See volume 1, page 1 of the “National Catholic Reporter” (October 1964) where it has a front page photo of Fr. John Bloms, O.S.B. of St. Gregory Benedictine Abbey, Shawnee OK with his altar girls while serving as pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, Ada OK. Here is another religious order priest, just like Fr. Martin Luther, O.S.A., (a German, Augustinian friar for only 15 years from 1505 – 1520 and yet the destruction he has wrought) throwing the law of the Church out the window because “he knows best” and is his own pope. As cited in: “The Road to renewal: (Bp.) Victor Reed and Oklahoma Catholicism, 1905 – 1971, ISBN 9780813215075 (2008), page 202.
“Male Altar Boy Arrested and Thrown Out of Church for Being “Too Catholic” by Atheist / Islam-Loving French Government”
Not a female altar boy being arrested???
Are you going to make a point with this comment or are you just going to share this link and add an ambiguous fragment?
Opps: Wrong reference on “Altar Boy Thrown Out of French Church”:
At one time, Acolyte was a minor order on the journey to the priesthood; hence no female altar servers. Religious vocations, like vocations to the single and married life, come from God. However, obstacles and obstructions to God’s grace can come from various sources. Perhaps the principal one is birth control. When a couple has only one or two children, there is the temptation to work against them having religious vocations–even without realizing it. This is another negative effect of the practice of indiscriminate birth control. Also, vocations rarely come from families where the family does not attend Mass regularly. As one person I know said, “We may not go to Mass, but we’re cultural Catholics. No vocations from that family–in fact not even sacramental marriages–except for the parents.
I think the biggest problem here is that those pushing for female “ordination” just don’t believe Jesus was God. Jesus was not just a man bound by the traditions of his time. He was and is God the second person of the Blessed trinity. His decisions while living on earth are not to be taken lightly because they are the decisions of God. Jesus is God. He is the creator of the universe and we are nothing compared to that. When Jesus instituted the church and the priest hood he was doing it simultaneously as man and God.The church is the decision and manifestation of the will of God.
Actually, Tom, I do believe that Jesus is fully God and fully human. That isn’t what I’m questioning here. I don’t take his decisions lightly at all and I respect that he selected his twelve apostles for a specific reason. I don’t, however, think that the reason he selected them was because they were men. I recognize, respect, and revere Jesus’ divinity and humanity and I don’t appreciate people questioning my faith because I have questions about why some traditions in the Catholic Church are so. When I was Confirmed years ago, my teacher in confirmation classes told us that the one thing that he wanted us to take away from his class was the question “why?” He taught us many things, but he said that it was important that if we didn’t understand something in the Church, we should ask why and that’s simply all I’m doing. I’m asking why the Church won’t allow 52% of the world’s population to live out their faith as men have had the opportunity to do so.
But Katie, you’ve asked why to a question that the Church has already answered. Simply because you don’t like the answer doesn’t mean you should go on asking the question. Curiosity is one thing. Disobedience is another. You can choose to continue to “protest” the answer given repeatedly by the Church (most recently addressed by St. John Paul II in 1994 and reaffirmed by Pope Francis in 2013), but ultimately by protesting the definitive answer given you simply show yourself to be more “protest”ant than Catholic.
If you cannot relegate your own will to that of God’s (which of course is given to us…like grace…through Holy Mother Church), than your struggle isn’t a matter of questioning, but rather of obeying. Pride is not a virtue, remember that.
Girls belong on the choir at Mass.
Prior to the introduction of women singers at Mass during the Renaissance (14th century) the choir was located in the sanctuary at the foot of the altar. With the introduction of women, the choir was relocated to the “choir loft” at the back of the church in an elevated gallery above everyone else so women could not be seen to help women avoid the sin of pride, maintain their “modesty” which is also done through veiling in church and to avoid the sin of lust on the part of men in the congregation looking at women in the sanctuary. Other reasons for moving the choir to the loft include that the law of the Church was that only clerics (4 minor orders + 4 major orders) or substitute clerics (laymen) could be in the sanctuary.
There were even restrictions on what women could sing during the Mass. Women could not sing those parts of the Mass which were restricted to clerics / men, i.e.:
–Introit (Vatican II entrance hymn),
–Epistle (Pre-Vatican II: sung by the subdeacon, Vatican II: lay reader)
–Gradual or Tract (Vatican II responsorial Psalm),
–Alleluia (Musically the same in both forms of the Roman Rite),
–Gospel (Sung by the deacon in both forms of the Roman Rite)
–Offertory (Vatican II offertory hymn),
–Communion (Vatican II Recessional hymn).
Pre-Vatican II, women in the choir are allowed to sing essentially the congregations part at Mass:
Musically, Vatican II was an exercise in the imposition of extreme egalitarianism in keeping with the philosophy of the atheistic French and Russian Revolutions of destroying the structure, functioning, organization, liturgy and theology of the Catholic Church.
It should be noted that those religions that only allow male liturgical participation in the sanctuary (Islam and Eastern Orthodoxy) are rapidly expanding (Islam) if not maintaining (Eastern Orthodoxy) their demographics. Western Christianity will continue to die as long as it continues to be a “woman / girl thing” and not a “man / boy thing.”
1 Timothy 2 9-15
In like manner women also in decent apparel: adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire, But as it becometh women professing godliness, with good works.
Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence.
For Adam was first formed; then Eve. And Adam was not seduced; but the woman being seduced, was in the transgression. Yet she shall be saved through childbearing; if she continue in faith, and love, and sanctification, with sobriety.
The Saint Paul’s letter to Bishop Timothy as recorded in the Bible seems to provide pretty clear evidence to me that women should have no authority over men nor teach them, but remain silent .
Oh Mike. You know how some parts of the Bible are meant to be taken literally, and some figuratively? And some even are meant to be understood with a cultural perspective! That means that female subordination was (unfortunately) the culture at the time this passage of the Bible was written. However, now we as humans understand the equality that we all share as children of God and that neither sex should be subservient to the other.
think the biggest problem here is that those pushing for female “ordination” just don’t believe Jesus was God. Jesus was not just a man bound by the traditions of his time. He was and is God the second person of the Blessed trinity. His decisions while living on earth are not to be taken lightly because they are the decisions of God. Jesus is God. He is the creator of the universe and we are nothing compared to that. When Jesus instituted the church and the priest hood he was doing it simultaneously as man and God.The church is the decision and manifestation of the will of God.
There should not be any altar girls, or female Eucharistic Ministers, period!
In fact there shouldn’t even be female lectors. They can join the quire or rosary groups and a number of other things.
Women’s place in the Church can be best summarized in the life of:
–The Blessed Virgin Mary and the total giving of herself to the will of the Lord, Luke 1:38, “be it done unto me according to THY word,” (represented now through a life of total, consecrated prayer), and / or
–St. Martha of Bethany who was busy about the House of the Lord tending to the needs of the faithful, Luke 10:38-42, (represented now through a life of charitable service which women do through teaching, nursing, etc.).
Women were never ordained by Our Lord to lead liturgical prayer (the Mass, the other Sacraments and/or the Divine Office in public with men present).
I believe(?) that an abbess can lead liturgical prayer (the Divine Office) in an enclosed convent / abbey of women where the abbess presides behind a screen and her blessings (as empowered by the bishop through his abbatial blessing to her elevating her to the canonical dignity / status of abbess) are directed to her sisters and not to male members of the congregation?
Women can not administer the Sacrament of “Extreme Unction / Anointing of the Sick” although since Vatican II, as “Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist,” they are allowed to give “communion to the sick and the dying / Viaticum” minus the Sacrament of Penance (i.e. last confession before death) and Extreme Unction (anointing with oil of the sick and dying).
My boys, young men now, do not want to be seen as wooses. They do not like being a part of a girls club as then they look girlish. They complain of the cassocks having perfume all over them and then having to explain why they smell like a girlie later. They are young men and want to be young men. When you find priests who have girl servers, you also find in many cases an effeminate priest. This for my sons is a total turn off from everything that means being a man.A Man of GOD, What man would want to be a part of a priest hood that is perverted? My sons don’t. If you where here they would tell you this as well.
My sons do not desire to have a sex change and have babies and my daughter has no desire to become a man.
Why do so many encourage women to try to become men and men to become women.
That is just sick.
There is no justification of fairness that allows for perversion. That so many would want to force this on any of my 6 children, now some adults, is sick and perverted in itself.
The Vatican II church has been totally infiltrated and coopted by the ideology of the French and Russian Revolutions (atheism) through its “soft” agent (i.e. non-threatening agent of women) of radical lesbianism / feminism / egalitarianism which are designed to destroy the liturgy, theology and dogmas of the Catholic Church.
Even the Jesuit junta in Rome denies the mass martyred of Catholics throughout the world (particularly Syria) saying there is no religious martyrdom if the murders are committed by Muslims in the name of economic redistribution and economic justice without any religious motivation. Even when the Muslims refute the Pope’s own words that the “Muslims are not engaged in a religious war (jihad) against Catholics,” the Jesuit junta will speak for the Muslim murderers by declaring that all wars are economic (i.e. Liberation Theology) and a struggle by the Proletariat (poor Muslims) for economic redistribution and that the Muslim murderers are forbidden by the Pope from declaring or engaging in a religious war. This is sheer insanity upon the part of the Vatican but it makes total sense if you believe that the Vatican has been infiltrated by the atheistic ideology of the French and Russian Revolutions.
The last time I checked, Liberation Theology has been condemned by the Holy Inquisition under Cardinal Ratzinger (1980s) but is being revived and rehabilitated under the current Jesuit junta in Rome (See wikipedia: “Liberation Theology” for Pope Francis reviving Liberation Theology). So the genocide against Catholics in Europe and the Middle East is okay with the Pope as long as it is done for “economic justice” and not for religious reasons.
So while the Catholic Church burns (i.e. Catholics are being killed worldwide), Nero (Pope Francis) plays his fiddle and sings that there are no religious wars because he has adopted the ideology of the French and Russian Revolutions.
Correction: “Rome denies the mass martyred” should be “Rome denies the mass martyrdom…”.
Despite the coming magisterial/nonmagisterial Exhortation, written now for publication in 2018, which says that women can be ordained, the Church traditions and Church Fathers have always made it clear that Jesus did not give His Church the power to ordain women. For many liberals, the altar girls are the nose of the dissidents under the edge of the ordination tent. The citations to the Church Fathers are numerous; e.g. from Saint John Chrysostom, 4th century [I love the first sentence]: “The divine law indeed has excluded women from the ministry, but they endeavor to thrust themselves into it; and since they can effect nothing of themselves, they do all through the agency of others; and they have become invested with so much power that they can appoint or eject priests at their will: things in fact are turned upside down, and the proverbial saying may be seen realized— The ruled lead the rulers: and would that it were men who do this instead of women, who have not received a commission to teach. Why do I say teach? For the blessed Paul did not suffer them even to speak in the Church. But I have heard some one say that they have obtained such a large privilege of free speech, as even to rebuke the prelates of the Churches, and censure them more severely than masters do their own domestics. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas
To “Virtuous…” See my comment “Anathema Sit” above.
Although I agree that there should be only alter boys for every reason that you give, I have to object to your logic which does not prove your point. You state from your statistics the basic proposition,”if you were a priest, you were probably an alter boy.” From this statement you cannot however, logically state that, “if you are an alter boy, you will probably be a priest or even “logically” that it will encourage you to be a priest.” It is the same as saying,”If it is raining, then the ground is wet. The ground is wet, therefore it rained.” The ground probably is wet from the rain, but it could be wet from a sprinkler or from a water break. You show the fallibility of your own argument when you state the statistics from the girls who became nuns. The only point that you may have shown (though not logically) is that these men were interested in the priesthood from a very early age. Again, lest you think otherwise, I would like to have only male servers for the reason (as Katie stated as well) that Christ is the groom, and as Bishop Fulton Sheen said that at the Sacrifice of the Mass, we truly have the consummation of the Groom with the Church. Servers should be the groomsmen, not the bride’s maids.
Thanks for this article, Liturgy Guy. I am a priest for 17 years, a former Vocations Director, and Pastor of a metropolitan parish in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. It is difficult to establish indisputable cause and effect relationships between types of parish involvement and how such involvement promotes the vocations possible for boys and girls respectively. However, the studies available do permit some correlation between certain parish ministries/services and the discernment of priesthood and religious life. Such correlation was part of my reasoning in 2013 for moving to an all-male corps of altar boys. At the same time I invited the girls of my parish to concentrate their service in the area of being sacristans and/or lectors. Data from recently professed women religious and their own response to what inspired them to consider religious life indicates that being an altar server factored at a much lower percent than other ministries/services in inspiring a religious vocation. These women religious highlight being lectors, choir members, and religious education teachers was much more likely to be part of their discernment. These women religious report altar serving — which, we should recall, has been widely available to them in the USA for at least more than 20 years — as a far less significant factor in their discernment. However, recently ordained priests continue to report a much higher rate of the value of being an altar server in their eventual priestly discernment. The self-reported data from those men and women responding to priesthood and religious life is available and not difficult to understand (for those who want to see it). Service as an altar boy naturally promotes priesthood. Other services/ministries better promotes women’s religious life. My parish has been blessed with a number of seminarians. We had three when I arrived. Since switching to an all-male corps of altar boys we now have three more, for a total of six seminarians! And, perhaps even more significant to this discussion, since making the switch I have had two young ladies pursue religious life. (Full disclosure: one left after beginning her postulancy and the other will enter postulancy in a matter of days.) In 17 years as a priest I have never had a lady join a convent except at the parish where I have decided to have boys be altar boys and girls serve in other distinct ministries. That says a lot. The correlation is not hard to understand. And while others may be more interested in ideological debates this parish maintains the venerable tradition of altar boys and is doing a noticeably better job at promoting the proper vocations available to boys and girls respectively. I’ll rest on that any day. While some debate the tradition and follow a secular motivation for alleged equality, this parish meanwhile may well be producing the future priests those same secularists hope will attend their deathbed for anointing and viaticum, accomplishing this by promoting here distinct roles of service for both girls and boys. God bless everyone who reads this article and who honestly promotes authentic vocations to both priesthood and religious life.
Dear Fr Hamilton,
I believe I’ve enjoyed your comment more than any other in this thread. Thanks very very much for sharing – and for your priesthood.
So many Catholics, both the clergy and laity complain about the lack of priests. Although some in these comments seem to want scientific proof that more boy altar servers result in more priests and more girl altar servers result in fewer priests, I am convinced of the former. Having said that, I continue to wonder why the Church does not forbid girl altar servers, if the Church desires more priests. Priests are required for the growth of the Church. Nothing should be done that hinders their growth. This includes the feminists who demand equal opportunity no matter the consequences. The USCCB should understand this and be sufficiently brave to implement a rule requiring that only boys serve at the altar.
I get that this is an old article but I have a couple of questions.
Where does it say in the Bible that only men/boys can be altar servers?
Don’t you think that the reason that boys stop serving because girls get to do it too is something that the boys parents should address? There’s nothing about altar service that is typically male related, like one commenter talked about boys not wanting to play with girls after a while because they can’t rough house.
I think it is because Jesuse ordained only males as apostles (i.e. priests).
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