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The Cambridge chaplain is right to accept female servers at Tridentine Masses

I agree with Fr Alban McCoy’s decision even though I am not, in fact, in favour of altar girls

By on Monday, 30 May 2011

Altar servers pictured at an Extraordinary Form Mass at the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Altar servers pictured at an Extraordinary Form Mass at the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

I am in a quandary which I cannot resolve. I am a woman and I attend the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Yet I very much dislike seeing altar girls serving at Mass. I ought to be pleased both because they are “being given a role to play” and because, as an attendee of the OF Mass, I should presumably have liberal instincts and accept altar girls along with extraordinary ministers, guitars and everything else.

But I don’t like it. Why? Well, when this innovation came in I heard along the ecclesiastical grapevine that the late pope, Blessed John Paul II, had capitulated to it under pressure from liberals in the Vatican. If this is true, it is not a good reason to allow such a large change to the Church’s tradition. And in the eyes of traditionalists it is a further objection to the post-Vatican II Mass over which they already have many objections.

Further, I have subsequently read many persuasive articles arguing that priestly vocations have fallen since the innovation came into practice. Becoming an altar boy was, in the past, a not unusual way for a priestly vocation to be kindled. I am sure there are complex reasons why there is a dearth of vocations in the West, but it seems reasonable that this is one of them. Apparently boy altar servers have tended to drop out with the onward progress of the girls. My final objection is instinctual: it simply looks wrong and slightly pagan to see young women on the altar alongside a priest.

Now my quandary has been further complicated by reading Stuart Reid’s excellent Charterhouse in the Catholic Herald of May 27. He relates that Fr Alban McCoy, the Catholic chaplain at Cambridge, is allowing young women students to act as servers at –wait for it – Tridentine Masses said by him. This, as Blessed John Henry Newman might have said, is “a turn up”. EF Masses are where you go if you don’t believe the Mass of 1962 should ever be changed – and that includes the immemorial tradition of male-only altar servers. The late Mgr Alfred Gilbey, chaplain at Cambridge for 32 years who retired rather fast in 1965 when women (me included) began to attend his chaplaincy Masses, must be turning in his grave at Fr McCoy’s innovation.

Yet when I read Charterhouse I immediately felt that Fr McCoy was right. He says he did not seek out female servers but, according to Stuart Reid, “decided not to refuse the request of two young women to serve in the old form”. Now he has a team of 10 servers: six men and four women for both OF and EF Masses: “One rite of liturgy, one set of servers.” I read the situation thus: if you choose to attend the EF Mass you are a serious believer for whom the liturgy is a sacred celebration that must be performed with due reverence (this might not always be the case among some who attend the OF). Fr Alban also knows these young, committed, Catholic women have no aspiration to become priests themselves and thus no agenda (unlike some feminists who see serving at Mass as a first step in the right direction). In charity and wisdom he chose to accede to their respectful request. I agree with him.

I now seem to have argued myself into the rather weird position of approving of women altar servers only at Tridentine Masses, while strongly disliking their presence at OF Masses. This is entirely inconsistent. As I said, I am in a quandary.

  • RJ

    Having said that, I did do a small amount of research: I looked at Ministeria Quaedam by Paul VI. It says:

    “In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of reader and acolyte is reserved to men.”

    So if altar server = acolyte, then clearly this ministry is not open to women or girls. However, I am not 100% certain that all altar servers are to be acolytes.

  • John D. Horton

    The Holy Inquisition is alive and well and the name of the “Grand and Universal Inquisitor” is William Cardinal Lavada (from the USA, go America!!!).

    Unfortunately, the name of the Holy Inquisition was changed in 1965 (Vatican II ruining another good thing)to fool people who haven’t read their history, like you, into thinking that it does not exist. 

    The current name of the Holy Inquisition is the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (CDF) and its cardinal prefect is generally considered the number 2 or 3 person in the Vatican (after the Pope and perhaps the Cardinal Secretary of State).

    The prefect of the CDF is also the ex officio president of the “Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei” (which regulates the use of the 1962 Missal, among other things) so Cardinal Lavada can use two mitres when he puts down the heresy of Fr. McCoy.

    John D. Horton
    Lawton, Oklahoma
    USA

  • RJ

    And a further relevant point is that the office of acolyte is among the minor orders (qv Ministeria Quaedam) so I would think that is probably why it is not open to women – i.e. I surmise it is a participation in the sacrament of Holy Orders.

    However, this leaves open the question of supply ministers, e.g. extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion

  • Mike

    >>Prior to the WWI it was thought that women could not drive motor vehicles or operate machinery. It was thought that women could not be doctors, engineers or priests.<<
    That is a bald-faced lie. I have family members, and know of many female doctors over a hundred years before WWII, not to mention scientists. According to you Marie Curie is a myth and never existed.

    Also, unlike you, some people have respect for the vocation of motherhood, and do not find being a mother inferior to any other job. According to me, being a mother is more important than, being a doctor, a CEO, or president of the United States. I am sorry you have such a low opinion of motherhood.

  • Mike

    where does equality come in to play.  or do you not believe god created all of us equal?

    Where does equality come into play? Until our governments allow men to have babies, men will never be equal to women, right?

  • RJ

    Oh shucks, I think I made a mistake in saying that the office of acolyte is a participation in Holy Orders. On further reading in Ministeria Quaedam, I find that

    ‘What up to now were called minor orders are henceforth to be called ministries. Ministries may be assigned to lay Christians; hence they are no longer to be considered as reserved to candidates for the sacrament of orders.’

    Better stop before I get myself further tangled up

  • Anonymous

    You said it.

    The internet is the place to have people demand that you prove the bleedin obvious by reference to magisterial documents. Come on, for heaven’s sake: everyone knows only men were allowed to serve until 1992; the Fathers and Doctors of the Church would have been horrified by women serving. If you want to see where it is explicitly forbidden look at canon law collections, including obviously the 1917 Code.

  • Weary Convert

    Really?  Have a good look sometime at the reports of abuse in Europe, America and, hardly mentioned now, by the Christian Brothers in Australia.  However, I’m always willing to hope for the best.

  • DB McGinnity

    More important than the Pope, what would Jesus do, would He reject girls who wanted to love and serve God? No!, Jesus would not!  Equality is here to stay both morally and legally and there is nothing the Catholic Church can do about. It is only a matter of time until this matter will be tested in a court of law. It will not matter what the Pope says or what he would do.

  • Weary Convert

    “Unfortunately, the name of the Holy Inquisition was changed in 1965″  (Go Vatican II!). Few people other than those inhabiting the wilder shores of this website are likely to say “Unfortunately.” But you seem to want it both ways – now you see it, now you don’t.  I doubt if there are very many people in the Church who are unaware that the Inquisition is now the CDF and any use of the “Holy Inquisition” is a weird anachronism.  I must confess however that I am still of the opinion that you are simply a bright college student stringing us along with comments like Cardinal Lavade can use two mitres – one for weekdays and one for Sundays and major festivals perhaps?  Or is he perhaps seen as a clerical Zaphod Beeblebrox (not sure of the spelling)?  Carry on the good work, keeping us all amused.

  • DB McGinnity

    I said “Prior to the WWI it was thought that women could not drive motor vehicles or operate machinery”. You were so keen to prove me wrong, ‘you jumped the gun’ and said WWII. I stand by what I said, because I never write anything, unless I have checked it’s veracity first. However, take heart, I am not offended by your ignorant comment, even though you called me a liar. This is because of your lack of sophistication and social skills. I notice that you have done the same thing to other people who expressed an opinion different from yours. So your hasty retort says more about your poor level of literacy and lack of scholastic discipline than it does about me. There is no Catholic dogma anywhere that states (in Canon Law) that a person cannot be a priest and a mother. My Anglican friend is a priest with three children. I am a parent and a grandparent and I love women and mothers.

  • Mark

    I’m a convert ( 1997 ) came into the RCC in a Priestly Order of St. Peter parish because it took 2 yrs to find a catechist who taught from the Catechism, and, ironically, the Priest who followed the ancient Traditions at Mass also taught straight from the Catechism what the Church teaches.

     Thought along your lines and am still amazed when I see little girls dressed as priests when I attend Teen Masses or whatever it’s called. I imagine if the girls had been required to dress like the Blessed Mother to serve at altar, it would have still been confusing liturgically, so no help there. We learn with our eyes through forms as well as with words.  The Word is the author of all truth, the Alpha and Omega of all things which He formed with His Hands. Teach heaven at Mass through ancient forms and words. Only way we can learn heaven with our eyes ears and our whole body on earth: keep to the Traditions, forms and words as passed down from antiquity, which we got from the Word of God Himself. 

  • Smarsh3807

    Altar Server does not = acolyte. Acolytes are men that are duly appointed by a Bishop to serve as acolytes. These men currently must be in formation to be ordained as either transitional Deacons on their way to ordination to the Priesthood, or men on their way to being ordained as Permanent Deacons. Acolytes used to be minor orders, but now are ministries. Altar Servers are not in formation for ordination and cannot do many of the things that acolytes can do. Altar Servers are no Extra Ordinary ministers of the Eucharist, they are not expected to fill in for a lector if one is unavailable as Acolytes are expected to do. If you follow the GIRM closely Acolytes are permitted to purify the sacred vessels after distribution of Communion and altar servers are not. Altar servers are not acolytes. Altar servers are allowed to be female if the local Ordinary allows it. Acolytes cannot be girls. Just like duly appointed Readers are male only, but Lectors may be either male or female.

  • Diffal

    Of course He doesn’t reject such women just look at all the religious
    orders, and the female Saints and Doctors of the Church. Not to mention the
    Blessed Mother! But there is a difference between equality and sameness. Equal
    in dignity? – Most assuredly! But at the same time different in function. This is
    the point you fail to grasp. Looking at the church in terms of power rather
    than of service is never the way to go about it but that is exactly what you
    are doing. To suggest some sort of disenfranchisement here does not hold water
    as nobody has an automatic right to serve the Mass just as no one has an
    automatic right to be ordained.

  • Charles Martel

    Amusing, Weary Convert, but I can’t help my name – quite a common one in the Channel Islands. In fact, of course, the historical Charles Martel has nothing to do with the much later crusades – you’re just being facetious. More to the point, you don’t address the issue at all. Altar girls are totally unjustifiable. Thye were simply allowed by fiat without even any attempt to build a case from scripture or tradition.

  • Lefty048

    because god created us all equal.  by the way who else are you better than?

  • Stewart Griffin

    “…evidence to show that women are less aggressive and corrupt than men, and also have a greater propensity for honesty and compassion. It is for these reasons that women have been and are still being excluded from the hierarchy of The Catholic Church and from positions of influence and management. The Catholic Church is frightened that women may be “whistleblowers”. and reveal the truth about the amount and degree of dishonesty and corruption”

    Do you really believe that the Church’s views on men and women are an elaborate conspiracy to help them get away with dishonesty and corruption?

    In another post you wrote:
    “I never write anything, unless I have checked it’s veracity first” 
    Please do explain how you checked the veracity of your conspiracy theory.

  • Stewart Griffin

    “What does a boy do as a server that a girl could not do?”

    As Francis pointed out in the article, a boy as a server can one day become a priest where as a girl cannot. To think that young people being alter servers is only about the immediate acts rendered is far to narrow a view of what is going on.

  • Stewart Griffin

    Altar not alter.

  • Stewart Griffin

    “You were so keen to prove me wrong, ‘you jumped the gun’ and said WWII”He said: “I have family members, and know of many female doctors over a hundred years before WWII, not to mention scientists.  According to you Marie Curie is a myth and never existed.”Notice: ‘a hundred years before WWII’. When do you think WWI happened? When do you think think Marie Curie won her two noble prizes? (hint on prize dates: before WWI).Clearly you were so keen to prove him wrong, ‘you jumped the gun’. Still, I would advise Mike to not get offended at your ignorant comment, even though you called him lacking in ‘sophistication and social skills’. Your hasty retort says more about your prior level of literacy and lack of scholatic discipline than it does about Mike.

  • Stewart Griffin

    “There is no Catholic dogma anywhere that states (in Canon Law) that a person cannot be a priest and a mother.”
     What say you to Code of Canon Law 1024: “A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly”.

  • Rodrigo Ferreira

    I obviously agree there is a long tradition that says that the service of altar is exclusive for men. The point for me is that if we are altering the tradition for adding things that not contradicts it according to new situations. I dont have an “equality agenda”. The altar girls and the extraordinary ministries and readers are there. Is that a detail or something at the core of the rite? If we could not change anything we would be still celebrating the caldean rite or something close to it. The apostles seemed to try to be very simples regarding the pagans in the first “council” at Jerusalem. Arent we being too much strict? Of course I dont think it is an easy balance.

  • Weary Convert

    On reflection, I do accept that my altarBOYS post was unaceptable and I withdraw it.  The reason for making it was my intense irritation at the endless sniping about female servers.  The fact is that in every church I have been to, a real tradition has quickly grown up where boys and girls are used about equally as servers to the pride of their parents and pleasure of the children.  And yet, those I describe as Ultras simply cannot leave any real piece of progress alone and want to take even this away from the Catholics in the pew who are far more important than the dry-as-dust wordings of this and that papal document which the Ultras pore over.  If the Ultras manage to get girls banned from the altar then I feel that there will be a real revolt against such a piece of nervous silliness and the falling attendance at Mass which the Ultras hold up as evidence of a yearning for the discredited Latin will turn into an avalanche.

    Of course we will be given examples of a few instances where a Latin Mass centre is packed with adoring worshippers but they will be few and far between and rather than beacons for the “true” Mass, will rightfully be dismissed as local oddities – as was Fr. Oswald Baker in Norfolk (I think)?.

    Virtually all these difficulties arise from those who after half a century are still unable to accept that the Mass is to be said in the popular tongue and that Latin is now simply an exotic flower that may be used as an occasional curiousity as in my parish we once had a Greek Mass of St. John Chrysostom.  It was an interesting event but of no lasting significance.  So also with Latin.

    As to the details of whether this Mass or that is “valid,” the angels on a pinhead legend inevitably comes to mind.  If the local parish priest says the Mass then the overwhelming majority of the congregation will accept that all is in order. The world today is very different from that of Pugin who would be outraged at anything as minor as priests who wore the wrong sort of chasuble. What the Ultras cannot see is that there is a strong popular feeling in the British Church that supports English in a Mass that people understand and there is absolutely no likelihood of Latin being anything more than an occasional demonstration of what things might have been like in their grandparents’ days.

    I appreciate that this posting is somewhat disjointed and doubtless the Ultras will criticise it for that but I know that on this issue I am reflecting the position of the “real” Catholics who will, I am sure, accept the new version of the Mass soon to be introduced – so long as it is understandable and in English and not in a dead alien tongue.

  • SomeGuyOnTheStreet

    Simply from the viewpoint of formal logic, there is an important distinction between the proposition “EF Masses are where you go if you don’t believe the Mass of 1962 should ever be changed” and the proposition “if you choose to attend the EF Mass you are a serious believer for whom ℰ

  • Charles Martel

    In that case, we should all be able to do anything. Women should be priests, bishops, popes. I should be prime minister if I wish. I should be able to use the women’s toilets if I want to. If you are a Catholic, Lefty048, you should know that the Church teaches quite a different view of the different roles of the sexes.

  • diddleymaz

    now your just being silly.

  • Nat_ons

    The function of the 1904 Supreme and Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office remained much the same as the 1965 Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, having the same authority, but accruing enhanced powers of investigation, rebuke and condemnation:

    “The duty proper to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world: for this reason everything which in any way touches such matter falls within its competence.” Blessed John Paull II, Bonus Pastor.

    The judicial/ semi-judicial terms ‘Inquest’ or ‘Inquiry’ do not strike the same tone of horror in the modern mind as the Inquisition, yet these are its actual and still current secular forms. In fact, the CDF now has far greeter freedom of inquiry into errors, sin and crimes among the faithful than at any time in the past. However, it has much the same recourses: correction, internal discipline, or handing over to the state.

    In times long gone, when the term ‘Inquisition’ was employed by Rome, the national and imperial states tended to rankle at its intrusion into the workings of the local Ordinary (under the state’s closer control) and thus refuse to allow a Roman inquiry. And, like it or not, it has been the local Ordinary in our own times that has so often egregiously failed to inquire sufficiently, correct with an adequate severity, or hand over to the secular authorities for punishment those deemed to be criminal – the very thing that most souls feared of the Inquisition and its processes. Using the term ‘Inquisition’ may seem archaic, it is nonetheless useful (if more controversial than the looser inquiry or more technical inquest) .. how many more priestly sexual criminals would have been handed overto face the fullest punishment of the local states cannot be answered; however, the swifter, more exacting and, it seems, even more unrelenting exposing of error, sin and crime to the light of truth under the remarkably gentle Josef Cardinal Ratzinger (HH Pope Benedict XVI) indicates the true character of the type of ‘inquiry’ that many – who would most howl against ‘inquisitions’ - presently demand (for others than themselves, of course).

    God bless, Nat.

  • Nat_ons

    It is not a matter of what ‘can’ be done, but what the church catholic says may be done with due custom of authority and then asks to be done in the tradition of discipline in Christ’s name. Women, like men, are anointed into a sovereign priesthood at Sacramental admission into and conformation in Christ, as one body with one Spirit. However, whether or not it pleases the ‘I-can-too’/ ‘you-can’t-tell-me-what-I-can’t-do’ Age of Aquarius mentality, the teaching authority allotted from Christ in his body does not call women to be ‘fathers’ .. any more than it seeks out gay men, non-catholics, etc, to be so either.

    This is not a slight to women or gay men, any moreso than it can be construed as a denial of human rights to the heretic, pagan or atheist; it is a statement of divine purpose for the ecclesial presbyterate in orthodox catholic understanding of Christ and his body – that end is the presbyteral fatherhood of the gospel as opposed to a guardianship in the various other equally graced ministeries.

    Of course, it may well be true that your local Anglican minister – like mine – is a wonderful witness to Christ; this cannot remove the fact that (s)he is a) under a schismatic communion, moreover b) that his/ her ministry/ ordination is offered by (increasingly) unorthodox authority, and therefore c) that he or she may not be considered as offering valid, legitimate or approved Sacraments/ ministry or leadership (remaining so until such approval, authority and communion might be restored fully .. and not just by any private wish fulfillment of individuals or groups).

    All of this is no reflection on the devotion of the woman called to serve Christ, nor a denigration of the gay man in taking up the cross in discipleship, or the non-catholic in seeking to reflect on this sacramental faith. It is to remind the world – and especially the worldly-minded catholic – that orthodoxy in magisterium is not open to be defined by what the world says man can or cannot do. Rather it is a reminder to us all – you, me, the popes – that all disciplinary rule is not ended in Christ but fulfilled (as is the Law) .. and the rule you desire to have under review here is: a woman becoming a fatherly elder in the church rather than advancing as a dutiful guardian for the faith.

    God bless, Nat.

  • DB McGinnity

    IT SEEMS THAT YOU AND MIKE ARE THE SAME PERSON:  

    I do not believe in conspiracy theories of any sort and I accept David Aaronovitch thesis as written in his book “Voodoo Histories” Conspiracy Theories are reserved for narrow minded people with an “Axe to Grind”. Conspiracy theorists like to sound intelligent and important. There is clear evidence that such people have personality disorders and prone to psychosis.

    “Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch (2009) Jonathan Cape. London. ISBN 978-0-224-07470-4
    I write about what I know to be true. The incidence and scope of clerical abuse and financial irregularities are on public record throughout the world. These crimes are not conspiracies, but blatant abuse of Vatican Power. Then there was the Banco Ambrosiano, (the Istituto per Opere di Religione) headed by Archbishop Paul Casimir Marcinkus, and the killing of Roberto Calvi in July of 1982, found hanging from under Blackfriars Bridge in London.

    Perspectives on Canon 1024, by Luis T. Gutierrez, Oct 1996The male-only priesthood is a matter of discipline; it is not a matter of doctrine, and even less a matter of faith. In this regard, it is noted that CCC 1577 starts by quoting CIC 1024. This elevation of the male-only practice from discipline to “doctrine” is irrational, because it is based on a fundamentalist reading of certain passages of the New Testament; it ignores that sacred tradition, a living process, is more than the mere repetition of the past (Matthew 13:52); and it fails to recognize that, given the circumcision decision (Acts 15), the male-only practice is merely incidental to the deposit of faith. In the Creed we profess that the church is apostolic, not male-apostolic.  To be an apostle, or a successor to the apostles, a human body is required, but not a male human body. This becomes evident after the resurrection in the person of Mary Magdalene, who was sent by the Risen Lord as apostle to the apostles.The WHO classifications of mental Illness will confirm that my premise about women being less aggressive than men can be supported in terms of clinical psychopathology. Most female aggression is reactive to provocation. Most male aggression is proactive (instigated by men). In a few weeks time you will probably be writing this premise as if it were your own idea.I have just read The Madame Curie Complex: Paperback Edition: ISBN: 978-1-55861-613-4: Publication Date: 03-01-2010. I will take no lessons from you about any clinical entity and the Madam Curie proposition is a very poor argument, based on a veneer of knowledge. I know what happened to people like Madam Curie and Rosalind Frankland and to other women throughout history (even recent history).  I repeat: Prior to World War One (WWI) one there was a general opinion and attitude that women were ill suited to performing technical tasks like driving. After WWI attitudes had changed, except within the Roman Catholic Church, who still live in a Byzantine culture. Equality is here to stay and ther is nothing you can do about it. !!Luis T. Gutierrez, Oct 1996The male-only priesthood is a matter of discipline; it is not a matter of doctrine, and even less a matter of faith. In this regard, it is noted that CCC 1577 starts by quoting CIC 1024. This elevation of the male-only practice from discipline to “doctrine” is irrational, because it is based on a fundamentalist reading of certain passages of the New Testament; it ignores that sacred tradition, a living process, is more than the mere repetition of the past (Matthew 13:52); and it fails to recognize that, given the circumcision decision (Acts 15), the male-only practice is merely incidental to the deposit of faith. In the Creed we profess that the church is apostolic, not male-apostolic.  To be an apostle, or a successor to the apostles, a human body is required, but not a male human body. This becomes evident after the resurrection in the person of Mary Magdalene, who was sent by the Risen Lord as apostle to the apostles.The WHO classifications of mental Illness will confirm that my premise about women being less aggressive than men can be supported in terms of clinical psychopathology. Most female aggression is reactive to provocation. Most male aggression is proactive (instigated by men). In a few weeks time you will probably be writing this premise as if it were your own idea.I have just read The Madame Curie Complex: Paperback Edition: ISBN: 978-1-55861-613-4: Publication Date: 03-01-2010. I will take no lessons from you about any clinical entity and the Madam Curie proposition is a very poor argument, based on a veneer of knowledge. I know what happened to people like Madam Curie and Rosalind Frankland and to other women throughout history (even recent history).  I repeat: Prior to World War One (WWI) one there was a general opinion and attitude that women were ill suited to performing technical tasks like driving. After WWI attitudes had changed, except within the Roman Catholic Church, who still live in a Byzantine culture. Equality is here to stay and ther is nothing you can do about it. !!

  • DB McGinnity

    Well, well your snore denotes that you are definitely a real Ivy League or Fulbright Scholar. (Logic, Theology and Moral Philosophy no doubt) An incisive thinker no doubt. In your dreams or course !!! You will go through your life snoring. Completely “asleep’ to logic and reason, and you will probably pontificate about great an wonderful things, gleaned from someone else’s experience, sitting in an armchair. Then life will have passed and you will still be snoring.

  • DB McGinnity

    I do not believe in conspiracy theories of any sort and I accept David Aaronovitch thesis as written in his book “Voodoo Histories” Conspiracy Theories are reserved for narrow minded people with an “Axe to Grind”. Conspiracy theorists like to sound intelligent and important. There is clear evidence that such people have personality disorders and prone to psychosis. “Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch (2009) Jonathan Cape. London. ISBN 978-0-224-07470-4

    I write about what I know to be true. The incidence and scope of clerical abuse and financial irregularities are on public record throughout the world. These crimes are not conspiracies, but blatant abuse of Vatican Power. Then there was the Banco Ambrosiano, (the Istituto per Opere di Religione) headed by Archbishop Paul Casimir Marcinkus, and the killing of Roberto Calvi in July of 1982, found hanging from under Blackfriars Bridge in London.

    Perspectives on Canon 1024, by Luis T. Gutierrez, Oct 1996The male-only priesthood is a matter of discipline; it is not a matter of doctrine, and even less a matter of faith. In this regard, it is noted that CCC 1577 starts by quoting CIC 1024. This elevation of the male-only practice from discipline to “doctrine” is irrational, because it is based on a fundamentalist reading of certain passages of the New Testament; it ignores that sacred tradition, a living process, is more than the mere repetition of the past (Matthew 13:52); and it fails to recognize that, given the circumcision decision (Acts 15), the male-only practice is merely incidental to the deposit of faith. In the Creed we profess that the church is apostolic, not male-apostolic.  To be an apostle, or a successor to the apostles, a human body is required, but not a male human body. This becomes evident after the resurrection in the person of Mary Magdalene, who was sent by the Risen Lord as apostle to the apostlesThe WHO classifications of mental Illness will confirm that my premise about women being less aggressive than men can be supported in terms of clinical psychopathology. Most female aggression is reactive to provocation. Most male aggression is proactive (instigated by men). In a few weeks time you will probably be writing this premise as if it were your own idea. I have just read The Madame Curie Complex: Paperback Edition: ISBN: 978-1-55861-613-4: Publication Date: 03-01-2010. I will take no lessons from you about any clinical entity and the Madam Curie proposition is a very poor argument. I know what happened to people like Madam Curie and Rosalind Frankland and to other women throughout history (even recent history). I repeat: Prior to World War One (WWI) one there was a general opinion and attitude that women were ill suited to performing technical tasks like driving.  I repeat: Prior to World War One (WWI) one there was a general opinion and attitude that women were ill suited to performing technical tasks like driving. After WWI attitudes had changed, except within the Roman Catholic Church, who still live in a Byzantine culture. Equality is here to stay and ther is nothing you can do about it. !! Luis T. Gutierrez, Oct 1996The male-only priesthood is a matter of discipline; it is not a matter of doctrine, and even less a matter of faith. In this regard, it is noted that CCC 1577 starts by quoting CIC 1024. This elevation of the male-only practice from discipline to “doctrine” is irrational, because it is based on a fundamentalist reading of certain passages of the New Testament; it ignores that sacred tradition, a living process, is more than the mere repetition of the past (Matthew 13:52); and it fails to recognize that, given the circumcision decision (Acts 15), the male-only practice is merely incidental to the deposit of faith. In the Creed we profess that the church is apostolic, not male-apostolic.  To be an apostle, or a successor to the apostles, a human body is required, but not a male human body. This becomes evident after the resurrection in the person of Mary Magdalene, who was sent by the Risen Lord as apostle to the apostlesThe WHO classifications of mental Illness will confirm that my premise about women being less aggressive than men can be supported in terms of clinical psychopathology. Most female aggression is reactive to provocation. Most male aggression is proactive (instigated by men). In a few weeks time you will probably be writing this premise as if it were your own idea. I have just read The Madame Curie Complex: Paperback Edition: ISBN: 978-1-55861-613-4: Publication Date: 03-01-2010. I will take no lessons from you about any clinical entity and the Madam Curie proposition is a very poor argument. I know what happened to people like Madam Curie and Rosalind Frankland and to other women throughout history (even recent history). I repeat: Prior to World War One (WWI) one there was a general opinion and attitude that women were ill suited to performing technical tasks like driving.  I repeat: Prior to World War One (WWI) one there was a general opinion and attitude that women were ill suited to performing technical tasks like driving. After WWI attitudes had changed, except within the Roman Catholic Church, who still live in a Byzantine culture. Equality is here to stay and ther is nothing you can do about it. !!

  • Annie

    Lefty, God created men and women equal but different. was covered down post some time ago. As you’ve repeated yourself, I will too.

    As I said below to exactly the same question from you:

    It has nothing to do with equality or inequality, which I think you are using in the secular sense. God created men and women equal, but different.I’m all for equality when it comes to pensions, the employment market, opportunities for women, but that’s not what the Church is about. Men can’t have babies, women can’t become priests. I think it’s a great mistake to effectively put boys off serving the Mss because of the presence of girls. Anyone who’s had kids knows that at a certain age, boys and girls just dont mix; they regard each other as separate species. If you have a group of girls anywhere near the sanctuary, boys usually run a mile. They leave and don’t come back. And that’s in the OF. I think it’s high time we made boys feel special, and uniquely useful, and leave the Sanctuary at Mass to the blokes. Which, however hard you might try to read anything else into it, UE spells out.     

  • DB McGinnity

    On two occassions, The blog I posted does not appear as presented. This technical error changes the context of the blog, because it is repeated and devalues the integrity of the presenter. I appreciate that his happens to other people as well, but it does not make a good impression for professional journalism

  • Anonymous

    References? Yes, many, here:

    http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt88.html

    A few select ones:

    “1980, when the Holy Father reaffirmed the Church’s bimillennial prohibition of female altar servers in Inæstimabile donum”

    “Pope St. Gelasius felt obliged to write to the bishops of those regions saying
    We have heard with sorrow of the great contempt [mépris] with which the sacred mysteries have been treated. It has reached the point where women have been encouraged to serve at the altar, and to carry out roles that are not suited to their sex, having been assigned exclusively to those of masculine gender. 4 “”In his encyclical Allatae Sunt of 26 July 1755, Pope Benedict XIV explicitly condemned females serving the priest at the altar with the following words:”Pope Gelasius in his ninth letter (chap. 26) to the bishops of Lucania condemned the evil practice which had been introduced of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass. Since this abuse had spread to the Greeks, Innocent IV strictly forbade it in his letter to the bishop of Tusculum: “Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry.” We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft-repeated constitution Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 6, no. 21.”[3]”

  • David Ayalon

    Quite true. If there are girl servers the priest might become distracted and become sexually aroused. It is for this reasons that women and men are segregated in the Synagogue and in The Mosque as indeed they used to do in the Catholic Church (I am told). Maybe the miracle of the Consecration might go wrong if women are present.

  • Lefty048

    you could be prime minister but using the women’s toilets would make you perverted.

  • DB McGinnity

    It is purely academic what the Church says about boy of girl altar servers, because a European lawyer friend informs me that in the next few years there will be additional and specific legislation on the statue books that will outlaw any form of religious or gender discrimination. This is innovation is being contemplated primarily to curtail the power and proliferation of Muslim religious ideologies and Asian cultural customs, like veils. However, if this law comes into being, then it will be illegal for The Catholic Church to forbid girls from serving at mass because the Church’s teaching does not supersede secular law. As things stand, there is not too much love or respect for any religion in Europe but Catholicism in particular is earmarked to become compliant to secular and modernist laws.

  • Anonymous

    I can only speak for Cloistered nuns preVat2. In those days the grill seperated the nuns choir and the altar in the chapel the other side allowed for public worship. Whilst one of the sisters would have been sacristan, no sister would ever have presumed to serve at Mass (apart from the rule of enclosure). The celebrant would enter the enclosure through an adjoining door in the sacristy for the sisters to receive.
    I cannot imagine things will have changed that much post V2; even in American cloistered communities.

  • Charles Martel

    “Maybe the miracle of the Consecration might go wrong if women are present.” That’s one hell of a silly comment, old chap. Can you people stick to the point?

  • Charles Martel

    Who are you to decide I am perverted? What gives you that right? By the way who else are you better than? You’re being very judgmental….

  • David Arron Ayalon

    How am I being silly? If the priest is being distracted by girls pheromones or perfume of their sensual gyrations, it is possible that he may use the wrong words and cast the wrong spell during the consecration and he could end up with the body and blood of Satan instead of Christ. This whimsical phenomenon is well known in Wicca Circles, and that is why the priests concentration is so important.

  • DB McGinnity

    “Luckily for me, I don’t have to justify what I have said” In these few words you have just summed yourself up to a narrow minded, self satisfied bigot . Imagine what sort of person you are, by not having to justify what you say, as thought you were infallible. You are not infallible, you are an extremely dangerous chauvinist like the inquisitionist Bernard Gui (1261-1331) the inquisitor of the Dominican Order. You are helping the Catholic Church to go backwards in time to the dark ages. Your sort of Catholic Church is in decline, and the only way it can go with people like you is “to the bottom”. 

  • Stewart Griffin

    “IT SEEMS THAT YOU AND MIKE ARE THE SAME PERSON”

    I am not Mike.

    “The incidence and scope of clerical abuse and financial irregularities are on public record throughout the world. These crimes are not conspiracies, but blatant abuse of Vatican Power. ”
    No one has denied this. The conspiracy theory you put forward is that:

    “It is for these reasons that women have been and are still being excluded from the hierarchy of The Catholic Church and from positions of influence and management. The Catholic Church is frightened that women may be “whistleblowers”.”

    Claiming that the Church has clerics committing abuses it not the same as claiming that they exclude women for fear of them acting as whistle blowers. Again: have you any proof for your conspiracy theory that the reason the Church treats women differently is to prevent them revealing corruption?

    Remember: most people who oppose female ordination are neither themselves ordained nor a part of any criminal clique in the Church hierarchy.

  • Stewart Griffin

    You wrote (referencing Luis T. Gutierrez): “The male-only priesthood is a matter of discipline; it is not a matter of doctrine, and even less a matter of faith”

    The former Pope in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis wrote: “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.”

    To clarify this further Cardinal Ratzinger, the current Pope, in 1995, wrote:
     
    “Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.
    Responsum: In the affirmative.

    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 (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium25, 2). “Of this writing by Cardinal Ratzinger: “The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Reply, adopted in the ordinary session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published.”You put forward that: “This elevation of the male-only practice from discipline to “doctrine” is irrational, because it is based on a fundamentalist reading of certain passages of the New Testament”Fundamentalism is characterised by literal, strict interpretation. It might in some instances be in error but it is not itself intrinsically irrational. For instance, we do interpret the bible to be fundamentally – literally and strictly – telling us that Jesus was crucified and there is nothing irrational about this interpretation. So to state something is irrational because it is fundamentalist is to make a category error confusing irrationality with a strict interpretation of a subset of the New Testament. 

  • Weary Convert

    And so on and so on and so on – does any real Catholic in the pew give tuppence for all this nonsense?  There are girl servers and they will continue if the Church does not wish to add stupidity to its record of criminality, evasion and concealment of clerical sexual abuse. There may be some senior or backward clerics who would see a fight with secular law as allowing the Church to regain some moral high ground.  Think again – the Church has dug such a pit for itself on that high ground that it is likely to disappear from sight if it expects the public at large to support giving it special arrangements on any new equality law. It’s only hope in that direction is to go on bended knees to the secular arm and plead for some form of dispensation – and getting one even then is probably unlikely.

  • DB McGinnity

    I have already made it clear that I do not believe in conspiracy theories of any sort and I accept David Aaronovitch thesis as written in his book “Voodoo Histories” Conspiracy Theories are reserved for narrow minded people with an “Axe to Grind”. Conspiracy theorists like to sound intelligent and important. There is clear evidence that such people have personality disorders and prone to psychosis. You missed that point completely because you probably are a conspiracy theorist yourself. You surely sound like one.“Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch (2009) Jonathan Cape. London. ISBN 978-0-224-07470-4Considering that there is no absolute proof that Jesus Christ ever existed, I cannot supply any proof. This is like asking me to produce proof that Leopoldt Bloom walked the streets of Dublin. The reason women were excluded from Catholic ceremonies was because of their menstruation, and they were thought to be unclean in the presence of The Eucharist whilst menstruating. That is the only reason. How do you know that I am not an Ordained Catholic Priest? On the face of it, what do you know about anything?

  • Stewart Griffin

    “I have already made it clear that I do not believe in conspiracy theories of any sort”

    Should I take it then that you retract your statement, that argued for a conspiracy, that: “It is for these reasons that women have been and are still being excluded from the hierarchy of The Catholic Church and from positions of influence and management. The Catholic Church is frightened that women may be “whistleblowers”.”

    “I have already made it clear that I do not believe in conspiracy theories of any sort…You missed that point completely because you probably are a conspiracy theorist yourself”

    It was you that posited that the Church has a conspiracy against women designed to stop whistle blowing. I have made no claims of conspiracy by anyone.

    “Considering that there is no absolute proof that Jesus Christ ever existed, I cannot supply any proof. This is like asking me to produce proof that Leopoldt Bloom walked the streets of Dublin”

    I asked for proof of your conspiracy theory because in one of your comments you said: “I never write anything, unless I have checked it’s veracity first” and in another you said: “In my first week at University, I recall been told by the Dean of Faculty “Say whatever you like; write whatever you like, but if what you write is to be taken seriously, then you must justify why your opinion is valid. You must also support your findings with references so that your sources can be verified and compared with other comparable finding”

    Since you demand claims need evidence I want the evidence for your conspiracy theory that the Church’s views on women are an attempt to cover up corruption. So far you have entirely failed to do this and so now resort to saying: “there is no absolute proof that Jesus Christ ever existed, I cannot supply any proof”. This is pathetic: no one is expecting absolute proof. What is demanded is, as your dean of faculty said: “you must justify why your opinion is valid. You must also support your findings with references”. Still, at least now you have honestly told us that ‘I cannot supply any proof”.

  • RJ

    Ok, mate. No need to be rude.

  • Anonymous

    The bulk of the laity do not properly understand these things, due to the woeful catechesis they receive. That’s why they need instruction. I give you due notice that should I ever be a priest – and it is not impossible that I may be – then I will never allow altar girls. Such is the prerogative of each priest, to so refuse to allow this innovation. Many of the younger generation of clerics share these views.

    “special arrangements on any new equality law”

    I don’t know what this I think rather snide comment actually refers to, but there are only two areas at present which may be at issue, and they are gay “marriage” and the “ordination” of women, and if you think any secular law will have the slightest impact on the Church’s position on these things then you are quite simply delusional.

  • Anonymous

    “It is purely academic what the Church says about boy of girl altar servers, because a European lawyer friend informs me that in the next few years there will be additional and specific legislation on the statue books that will outlaw any form of religious or gender discrimination.”

    Then we really will live in a totalitarian state. Nonetheless, I doubt that the Church will allow itself to be swayed by secular laws.