Altar boys: chierichetti, as they're called in Italian, little clergy. Substitutes for minor-order clergy; as I say, JROTC for priests.
I dissent on lace and ribbons for boys.I understand but anything that p*sses off libcaths is good. Ditto fiddleback chasubles.
Fiddlebacks are fine. Lace and bows = nicht so gut!But a paradox of Catholic culture is that men's men such as Cardinal Spellman, visiting soldiers in Korea, and countless priests wore lace and ribbons as part of their choir attire.
That was a late 19th-century affectation that carried over into the 20th.It's not necessary but it's not bad either.
Too precious.I understand but it's a matter of context (Cardinal Spellman and your average tough American parish priest who wore this weren't effeminately "precious") and personal taste. You have a point in that healthy men often weren't expected to really attend or take part in church in Catholic cultures such as Latin America. The priesthood might have been seen as sort of a respectable holding area for the kind of homosexual who likes preciously girly things.
Bingo!Yet when this stuff was in full, um, flower, the problem of lonely gay priests hitting on underage boys wasn't as big as it became after Vatican II's so-called "renewal" got rid of the lace and ribbons. With that, with the Sixties, you had a perfect storm of men in the priesthood for the wrong reasons (a respectable hidey-hole where nobody would wonder why you weren't married) now being told by secular society and Modernist idiots in the church to "let it all hang out" so they followed their urges and, many criminal cases, lawsuits, and parish closings later, the rest is history. Remember, back then the left was almost OK with sex with kids. (Back when Roman Polanski was partying a lot.) Conservative Catholics noticed the funny stuff but their bishops told them to mind their own business. These weren't lace-and-ribbons priests; these were guitar and "don't call me Father" priests. The church of course teaches it's a sin; the left of course 180ed from its own position and blamed the church (America is Protestant to the bone; anti-Catholic).
I understand in the Roman Rite, strictly speaking, lace (with limits, and varying according to rank?) is just an option on festive liturgical days.