Sunday, May 21, 2017

Why no to altar girls

My daughter received her First Communion this spring. At our parish today, it was mentioned that a lot of children will be moving this summer who have been altar servers and that the church was in need of volunteers for this. My daughter immediately turned to me and said she wanted to serve. I was so proud of her enthusiasm, but I was hesitant to say yes. As an adult convert, I don't know much about girls serving at the altar. I do know that pre-Vatican II it was reserved only for boys and young men as a precursor for the possible joining of the seminary. I am looking for a bit of knowledge on this since I am not well versed.
The church says you may do it in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which most Catholics use, but I hope you don't. Here's why not. Historically, altar servers were stand-ins for clergy, who of course are only men. I call altar boys JROTC for priests; recruiting for vocations as you mentioned. Having altar girls 1) sets girls up to be hurt because we can't ordain them (it's not that we won't; we can't), 2) drives away boys, who need and look for, yes, "male bonding" (partly why gangs exist), and 3) is an attempt by heretics to soft-sell women's ordination, which insults me because I left the Episcopal Church. This change happened under John Paul II; a reason I have no devotion to him. By the way, there is no big movement among Catholics to ordain women, because in our hearts we know we can't.


  1. You have no devotion to JP2. I understand this; I don't feel as down on him as you do, but I take your point. Nonetheless, I have no devotion to J23 due to that "brain fart" of his even though he is now a saint. What a mess he created!

  2. Heavens to Betsy, I find myself agreeing with you.....
    In the Orthodox Church, the current such issue concerns deaconesses, and it is definitely the thin edge of the wedge for those who want to change the teachings on clergy, marriage, and sex.

    1. I thought that the issue of deaconesses was only within the OCA. ????

    2. I don't know about that, but I've heard (to put it fairly) that among the "Oriental Orthodox" Armenians, or at least in some of their jurisdictions, "deaconesses" have been "restored," but not only that - but further, they are allowed in some cases to carry out the liturgical roles of deacons at liturgical services.

      Can anyone here conform or qualify this?

  3. Actually, it was amongst the Russians under the Patriarchate of Constantinople who first put forward the idea of women's ordination to both the diaconate as well as priesthood. The leader of this movement was M Elisabeth Behr-Sigel who often taught at S Serge Theological Institute in Paris. Fr Count Boris Bobrinskoy, who was doyen of the seminary at one time, was one of her main supporters. It is worth mentioning, that whilst an Orthodox, M Behr-Sigel was ordained as the first woman pastor of the Lutheran Church of France; having forced the issue in that denomination as well. The numbers of her supporters in the Orthodox Church is quite surprising:

    The first time that I actually say female altar servers, fully vested, was in the Melkite and Syriac rite Catholic parish in Paris. This was in the early seventies, long before the novus ordo had introduced such novelties.

  4. I must make one correction to what I had just posted. In the mid 70's there was a parish in Paris, which I did attend once (more than enough), which had introduced a very exotic, highly Byzantinised novus ordo liturgy, where the liturgical actions of the deacons were taken by women in albs, who also censed the altar, the many ikons (which were becoming fashionable in novus ordo communities at that time), and the people. It was very odd indeed.

  5. altar servers are substitutes for blessed acolytes, who are clergy under canon law but not sacramentally clergy. There are today and in former times (with a preCounciliar gap) "permanent acolytes" so they are not exclusively a stepping stone to the priesthood. The first altar servers (substitutes for actual acolytes), and for most of Christian history, were exclusively women.

    Only after Trent were boys asked to be altar servers. They served in parish churches while women served in religious houses.


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