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Reconciling feminism w/Christianity s/o: Poll for Catholics

Poll Results: What's your opinion on the gender of Catholic Altar Servers?

 
  • 20% (10)
    They should only be male
  • 75% (36)
    They can be male or female
  • 4% (2)
    I'm not sure
  • 0% (0)
    Other
48 Total Votes  
post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
OK, so how do you feel about Altar Servers/acolytes? Should they be male only? As I understand it, orginally this ministry was only open to boys because it was considered a "first step" to discerning the priesthood (and females were not allowed on the Altar).

So, what's your take? And - if you are comfortable posting - why?

Remember to gimme a minute to set the poll ... :
post #2 of 38
My son and my daughter were altar servers. "Co-ed" serving did not come to our church until the late '90's, and girls answered the call in droves. Quite frankly, if the girls weren't allowed to serve our church would have a serious shortage of servers. At a mass with 3 servers, two of them are girls. If Father has to come out to look for servers, the girls are the first to volunteer.

I see this as a service to the church, and my heart is always glad that young people want to take part. With so many willing, why would girls be excluded?
post #3 of 38
Thread Starter 
Yeah, my two girls are AS, so you know my answer.
post #4 of 38
When I was small, I always wanted to be an altar server, but at the first church I attended, there were no girls. It was kind of funny because my little brother never was that interested, but was kind of pushed into it, and was terrified. His first mass, he tripped and fell on a candle. However after two moves, we attended a church where there were girl altar servers, and I got my chance :. My brother also started doing it again, and this time we could serve the same mass together. This was back in the late 70's/early 80's, and there was a rumor that the pastor had gotten in trouble for having girl servers and that at some later date they went back to only boys.
I still go to this church sometimes when I visit my parents and want to attend a Catholic mass with them, and I think that they now have girls again.
post #5 of 38
I have mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, I am glad that both girls and boys can serve. My daughter is very excited about the prospect of being to do this when she is older. On the other hand, I do feel that we have to do more to help our boys discern a vocation to the priesthood, and certainly being an altar server is a wonderful way to participate in a meaningful way. I think that the more something becomes a "girl" thing, the less boys want to do it. (I know that doesn't sound PC by the way) In our parish only girls serve. Not one boy is willing to do it.

I guess it is a good thing for girls to serve, but I wish we could find ways to help boys participate more in a "special" way. We need more vocations to the priesthood!
post #6 of 38
I just love seeing children contribute to the liturgy in any way they are able, whether it's lighting candles, being junior ushers, altar servers, lectors, greeters, helping the sacristan, whatever. It is such a joy to see and hear children at church!
post #7 of 38
As usual, I am with Rome on this one. Both genders are allowed by the Church and I agree with that
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peppermint View Post
As usual, I am with Rome on this one. Both genders are allowed by the Church and I agree with that
It wasn't too long ago that this wasn't the case (less than 30 years)...Rome forbid girls from being Altar servers. What changed so that Rome allowed it? Do you think it's a premonition of things to come?
post #9 of 38
I think it was decided that they were needed and acceptable. I do not think this means there will be women as priests, though I know many, including my dear friend Spero disagree.
post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonshoes View Post
I have mixed emotions about this. On the one hand, I am glad that both girls and boys can serve. My daughter is very excited about the prospect of being to do this when she is older. On the other hand, I do feel that we have to do more to help our boys discern a vocation to the priesthood, and certainly being an altar server is a wonderful way to participate in a meaningful way. I think that the more something becomes a "girl" thing, the less boys want to do it. (I know that doesn't sound PC by the way) In our parish only girls serve. Not one boy is willing to do it.

I guess it is a good thing for girls to serve, but I wish we could find ways to help boys participate more in a "special" way. We need more vocations to the priesthood!
I have mixed feelings, too. Our parish has LOTS of altar servers, both boys and girls--which is wonderful. I do wonder if there is an opportunity lost here for boys to discern a call to the priesthood because it is open to females. On the other hand, it's a great way for kids to be involved in the mass and learn their faith.

I guess I don't really know!
post #11 of 38
Girls weren't allowed to serve when I was of an age. I would have loved to do it.

My DD is too young, but I hope she'll serve when she's old enough. We don't give our children--whose faith lives we are honored to be responsible for--anywhere nearly enough opportunties to participate and contribute to the church community.

I don't get the connection between serving and discerning a priestly vocation.

And if boys don't want to do it because it's a "girl thing," I'd say that's a problem for the boys and their parents and is mostly definitely NOT a reason to exclude girls.
post #12 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin2004 View Post
I don't get the connection between serving and discerning a priestly vocation.
http://stjohnbaptist.info/marianguil...anguild12.html

Quote:
Altar Servers have been a part of Church history since the earliest times, with those male faithful who were deemed worthy assisting the priest at the altar while he said the Holy Mass. From the very beginning, the duties of “ACOLYTE” or learner were strictly the domain of young males, as women had no place near the altar.

Acolyte was one of the seven levels of ordained ministry in the Latin Rite that culminated with Deacon and finally, Priest.


Not that I agree with ANY of this, mind you ... but this is where all the BS reasoning comes from:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/zlitur19.htm

Quote:
The 1994 letter (from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments clarifying that girls may serve at the altar) states: "It will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar. As is well known, this has led to a reassuring development of priestly vocations. Thus the obligation to support such groups of altar boys will always continue."
Quote:
Therefore the Holy See's recommendation is to retain as far as possible the custom of having only boys as servers.
Quote:
Regarding the column on female altar servers (Feb. 3), a priest from Illinois asked if it were possible to place the issue in a theological context.

He suggests several arguments against their use and asks: "based on the same theology of the body that Pope John Paul II has so profoundly explained, how can girls serving at the altar not be perceived as a move towards women's ordination? The role of the altar server is not just functional. Also, actions speak louder than words; by the Pope allowing altar girls in the context of the cultural politicization of the liturgy and the role of women, he does send the message that women's ordination will come about despite statements to the contrary."
I can get on board with this, though.

Quote:
Too frequently, it sounds as if the Church doesn't have to worry about breaking the moral law because it follows a higher liturgical law. Also, the last time I checked, by virtue of baptism, the Code of Canon Law says that every Catholic has a right to the sacraments. Does liturgical law also override canon law?"
And, since I went there - thank goodness we've moved past this kind of crap.

http://dic.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/245416

Quote:
Female altar servers

It was customary to reserve all service at the altar to males. It was strictly forbidden to have women serving near the altar within the sacred chapel, that is, they were prohibited from entering the altar area behind the altar rails during the liturgy. [Catholic Moral Theology, Fr. Jone OFMCap, Nr. 315.] 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." [ [http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Ben14/b14allat.htm Encyclical Allatae Sunt, 26 July, 1755, Pope Benedict XIV, paragraph 29.] ]
Ugh.
post #13 of 38
I'm curious--at what age can boys and girls become altar servers? I personally prefer adults (of either gender) to be altar servers but I come from a background where bad things happened to my childhood church's young altar servers.
post #14 of 38
Thread Starter 
CP, they are usually eligible after they've made their First Communion.

Our Diocese now has strict guidelines for those working with children, so while it's not impossible it would be very difficult for an adult to harm a young child.
post #15 of 38
At our parish, altar service begins in 5th grade. One 5th grader is assigned with two older servers while s/he learns the ropes. The priest stays in front and does not vest himself until the servers are ready, or alternately is ready before the servers arrive. He is never in the sacristy while the altar servers are there, and he never ever goes into the room where the server robes are kept until after the servers are finished for the day and gone. After Mass, the priest stays outside to visit and does not come into the sacristy until the servers are gone. As Spero said, it would be really hard to harm a child under those guidelines.
post #16 of 38
I guess I will be the first to speak up and say I totally disagree with female altar servers. As well as female readers and EMHCs of all genders.

Why? Because the trample on the sacred. And yes, altar serving does foster vocations.
Churchs that make altar serving something special for the young men and men have large programs. This Churches also get the young ladies involved in the altar guild and rosary societies.
We all have our role in the Church. The role of women does not include being on the altar.

But this is, again, my opinion.
I used to be an altar server. I was an EMHC. I was a reader. I was gonna be a priest and argued it for years. I will totally admit to the connection I saw between my service in these "ministries" and how they would lead me to being a priest.
post #17 of 38
I don't want to argue, but I will say that without the women and girls, our church would not have enough altar servers, lectors, Extaordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, or even ushers. Our church has Mass attendance of 2000+ each week, but the men and boys are not signing up in enough numbers to do the work of the church. The women and girls are picking up the slack.
post #18 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by enkmom View Post
I don't want to argue, but I will say that without the women and girls, our church would not have enough altar servers, lectors, Extaordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, or even ushers. Our church has Mass attendance of 2000+ each week, but the men and boys are not signing up in enough numbers to do the work of the church. The women and girls are picking up the slack.

At the Church I go to, we have the same Lector (actually instituted and vests for Mass) for every Mass. There might be a different gentleman who does the earlier morning mass, but I have never gone to those.
post #19 of 38
Thread Starter 
I honestly don't get the whole "women don't belong on the altar" thing.

Jesus had women disciples. This is widely acknowledged by Catholic theologians. This morning, in my FMP class on Eucharist, we discussed Cleopas and his companion - probably his wife - who is noted in some texts as "presbyter". Women were the first to witness the Resurrection. The first Evangelist was a woman. Jesus obviously felt that women were good enough to minister in His name, so why in the world do we keep arguing the point?

I'm proud to say that my girls are altar servers. I've been a music minister (on the Altar), and I'm presently a Eucharistic minister. I have distributed both the Body and the Precious Blood, and it is a great and beautiful privilege to do so. I approach the Altar with reverence and gratitude, knowing that I've been invited by Christ to serve others in His name. I simply cannot see how it is wrong or disrespectful for women to faithfully answer His call to service.
post #20 of 38
Romans 16:1, "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Kenchrea." Paul uses the Greek word "diakonos," the same word for a liturgical deacon. I've always wondered when exactly female deacons were forbidden in the early church?
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