“Altar girls” honored

Source: FSSPX News

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch appreciates “female altar servers” and lets everyone know it:  “So far I have never had any problems with them.”  As a footnote to the traditional pilgrimage organized by the Coetus internationalis ministrantium (CIM, the worldwide association of altar servers) in Rome last August 6, the president of the German Bishops Conference vigorously encouraged girls to serve in the sanctuary.  The Archbishop of Freiburg wished to announce his “gratitude that these girls are there….  This helps demonstrate that the particular service of the woman is appreciated in our Church.”

Some 53,000 European young altar servers, the majority of them German, and almost 30,000 pilgrims had come to attend the weekly general audience of Benedict XVI on St. Peter’s Square.  Speaking in German, the Supreme Pontiff invited these young people to “serve Jesus present in the Eucharist generously” so as to “grow in true and profound friendship with him” and to “guard this friendship in [their] hearts jealously,” following the example of Saint Tarcisius, a third-century martyr and the patron saint of altar servers.  At the same time, the pope declared, these young people must “communicate to [their] peers the gift of this friendship with joy, with enthusiasm, without fear”.  This message was addressed to both boys and girls, the latter group making up 60% of the participants in the pilgrimage.

Reporting on this international gathering, the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore romano, rejoiced at the presence of the “altar girls” during the ceremonies.  In the issue dated August 15, 2010, the Italian daily edition stated that “this authorization has thus put an end to a form of inequality in the heart of the Church and allowed girls to experience up close the ‘strength’ of the sacrament of the Eucharist.”  According to L’Osservatore romano, “the exclusion of girls simply because they were female was a heavy burden and constituted a profound inequality within Christian education.”

In 2001, however, the Vatican had declared that bishops must not oblige priests to admit “altar girls”.  The Holy See hoped then to promote the involvement of boys as altar servers, since they constitute a potential source of priestly vocations.  In 2004 the Instruction on the Eucharist, Redemptionis Sacramentum by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, appropriately recalled that “a great number of sacred ministers over the course of the centuries have come from among boys such as these.”  That is why, unless there is a hidden agenda of preparing women for the priesthood, only a person of the male sex can serve Mass.  (Sources : Apic/L’Osservatore Romano - DICI no. 221 dated September 18, 2010)