Faith/Spirituality Forum: Altar girls

Altar girls QUESTION from Mary on December 20, 2002 Bro. Ignatius,
Welcome back. I hope you had a restful sabbatical. Could you clarify the Vatican's position regarding the use of women and girls as Altar Servers. I recently attended a meeting where this question was raised and there was some confusion concerning how Altar Girls came about and what the Vatican says about it.
Thank you for your time and God Bless.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on December 24, 2002 Dear Mary:
Thanks for the kind remarks.
There is a lot of confusion on this subject. Here is the real scoop.
The rule that allows female altar servers was a legal technicality of canon law. The Pope was not, and I believe is not, a fan of female altar servers. But the way in which Canon Law was written there was a technical loophole that allowed female altar servers.
The Pope could have changed Canon Law, but he didn't. I think the reason he didn't is that one must choose one's battles and sometimes there are bigger battles to fight. Thus will must let the smaller battles go.
The United States is a major pain in the Pope's side I am sure. This country is the most immature country of the world. We are a bunch of babies who would yell and scream if the Pope had changed the law. I cannot speak for the Pope, of course, but I imagine that he probably felt that the aggreviation of the immature church in America was not worth the fight especially since technically female altar servers does NOT violate any dogma.
But, the Pope did say that the practice of altar boys should be especially encouraged.
Also, having altar girls is an OPTION, not a mandate. There are some bishops in the United States that do not allow female altar servers.
I don't believe that any priest can be forced to use females in his liturgies. I would have to check on that one.
So bottomline:
1) altar girls exist only due to a legal technicality in canon law
2) altar girls are an OPTION, not a mandate.
3)the tradition of altar boys is to continue to be promoted and encouraged
4) the presence of altar girls in NO way implies that women will have access to the priesthood.
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