Expert Answer Forum
girl altars servers, women lectors, and women Eucharistic ministers QUESTION from Frances July 13, 1999
My questions concerns girl altars servers, women lectors and women Eucharist ministers. My understanding is that the Holy Father has approved these but is this only an acceptable practice in the U.S.? Also my understanding is that the decision to have altar girls is clearly left up to the Bishop of the Diocese if this is true, does the same hold true for women lectors and women Eucharistic ministers? ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on August 24, 1999
Dear Frances, The use of female alter servers (altar girls) is at the discretion of the pastor. I'm not sure if altar girls are used throughout the world. Perhaps some of our readers could help. As for the other non-installedaltar ministries, [Reader (Lector), Cantor, and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist], these ministries are open to both men and women throughout the Roman Catholic Church. However, the formally installed offices of Lector and Acolyte are reserved to men. Before Vatican II these offices were part of the orders leading to the priesthood. Today, Bishops still tend to appoint men to these offices who are seminarians. But, canon law allows a bishop to appoint any man who is of good character and otherwise qualified to be an Installed Acolyte or an Installed Lector.
It should be noted that Extraordinary Ministers (readers, altar servers, Eucharistic), who may be men or women, should be utililized by the parish ONLY temporarily when there are not sufficient numbers of Ordinary Ministers (Priests and Deacons) or Installed Officers (installed acolytes and lectors) available to take care of the needs.
In Christ, John Miskell Back to Index Page