Phoenix Cathedral won’t allow girl altar servers | The Arizona Republic

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Phoenix Cathedral won’t allow girl altar servers | The Arizona Republic.

*Let it be noted that this is specifically the Cathedral.
The Diocese has not mandated this.*

“It is a shame on how the church continues to abuse the females,” said Bob Lutz of Phoenix, a Catholic with three grown daughters. “Church attendance is shrinking now, and this adds more fuel to the fire on how females are treated as second-class citizens.”

Seriously?  Seriously?

“Carole Bartholomeuax of Phoenix, who attended St. Joan of Arc parish, said girls outnumbered boys as altar servers there.”

Um, exactly why something needs to change…. one of the greatest values of this position is the proximity to priests “in action” and the proven growth of vocations from said proximity.  Like the article itself says, 85-90% of priests were altar servers.  That’s a huge number.  How can altar boys discover their vocations if there are no altar boys?  How do the men of the church know they are wanted, needed, or valued if there is no need for them anymore; what’s to prevent them from thinking they have been replaced?  Bob Lutz speaks of a shrinking Church attendance: has anyone ever thought to examine that perhaps the men of what used to be a congregation feel as if they are not needed anymore?  It may be brash of me to say, but that’s seriously an issue.  Men need to be appreciated and feel that they are truly needed; that is how they are called to serve in a marriage and that is how they are called to serve in the Church.  Women are blessed with different gifts, and their talents are of best use in other areas of ministry for the Church whom they long to serve.

“I believe Mary Magdalene set the example for women to be altar servers. I am so sorry to hear of this going backwards,” she said, adding that she still loves her church, “warts and all.”

Backwards? This is … how it is supposed to be.  “Backwards” implies that there is a “forwards” with this, and her contextual comment reads as if to say that the only “forwards” worth achieving is equality of actions between men and women.  That whole idea is something I disagree with completely; “equality”, or “forward thinking” does not mean “THE SAME THING”.  That belongs in another post entirely, though …..

Mary Magdalen was not a minister.  She offered God her gifts in a way that suited her womanhood and the situation at hand; her actions represented her devotion to Our Lord and showed her thankfulness at His mercies exhibited towards herself.  The examples of Mary Magdalen in Scriptures speak of her service to the body of Christ itself, yes, but this person is forgetting that despite her eventual service to the corporeal body of Christ, Mary Magdalen knew her role in the newly formed Christian church was not the same as the apostles’.  Her service was of a completely different nature than the men, as it should remain today.  I feel as if the argument for female altar servers slides a slippery slope down the argument for female priests….. which …… is again, another discussion entirely.

The history and tradition of having altar boys (instead of altar girls) really is designed to create deep spiritual growth.  I once had a priest say to me “What is wrong with a little girl wanting to help serve God at the altar?” and while it would be great to say “sure, there’s nothing wrong with that…”…. I really feel strongly that the role of women in the Church is different than this.  Women have a valuable role in the Church, but valuable does not mean equal.  And different does not mean lesser.  There are obviously many good things and many good graces to have come from any type of service to Our Lord, and that is to be appreciated.  There is an abundance of grace, however, to come from preventing the altar from becoming a political statement or the mandated “equalizing” of the altar servers into a manipulative power play …

I wish I knew more about the history of this movement so I could more adequately explain what I feel so strongly in my heart.

We are all here to learn, right?


Needless to say, I completely agree with this decision, and I draw particular attention to the “caveat” of the article’s author, who writes:

“Bishops and pastors always have had the option of restricting the role to boys, but only one diocese, Lincoln, Neb., and scattered parishes have done so. …  Anecdotally, the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., is one of the stronger dioceses in developing new priests.”



EDIT: The Diocese of Phoenix has issued a press release on the topic, which may be read here.

“Boys’ service at the altar has roots in Church history prior to the creation of the modern seminary system where men are formed for priesthood. Before seminaries, serving at the altar was part of an apprenticeship for priesthood. Fr. Lankeit’s decision was made primarily in response to the shortage of priestly vocations, since serving at the altar points very clearly to the specific vocation of priesthood.

He cites examples where limiting altar service to boys in the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., and in Ann Arbor, Mich., has borne the fruit of many priestly vocations. The Diocese of Lincoln is considered a vocations “powerhouse.” In a single parish in Ann Arbor, in 2008, there were 22 new seminarians and five women in formation for religious life. The same parish is also home to 16 sisters in the Servants of God’s Love religious community.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, also based in Ann Arbor, are receiving so many inquiries from young women interested in entering the order that they cannot build facilities fast enough to accommodate the surge in vocations. Their order offers clear evidence that when the God-given differentiation between male and female is honored, both men’s and women’s vocations flourish.”



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