Question: Altar Girls?
April 13th 1994, the feast of Saint Hermenegild, Prince and Martyr, will clearly be remembered as a red-letter day in the Devil's calendar of militant Feminism. On this date the Holy See gave "permission" for girls to serve as acolytes or "altar girls" in the conciliar church. In a sense, Satan's victory in this date was merely symbolic, for in reality, the conciliar church already permitted women to serve as Lectors, Subdeacons, and Deacons; reading the Old and New Testament lessons, distributing Holy Communion, and administering the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Yet the admission of women to the direct service of the priest at the altar probably seemed more significant to the average person than any of these other abuses. To most people the earlier violations were just a few more Vatican II innovations, while the introduction of "girl altar boys" struck them as a perversion of a long standing tradition. At least in theory, all of the other ministrations by women were supposed to take place outside of the sanctuary [not that there is any longer anything that resembles a "sanctuary" in Novus Ordo churches; and not that we can explain how Holy Communion could properly be distributed by a "deacon" who doesn't enter the sanctuary]. Obviously, there is no way that one can serve at the altar without serving in the sanctuary.
The Feminists argue that this change is long overdue; that restricting service at the altar to males is just an antiquated patriarchal prejudice. Inspired by Modernism and the liturgical decay of the conciliar church, they hold that there is no reason for women to be excluded from any liturgical function. A woman, as their reasoning goes, can hand the priest a cruet, ring a bell, or carry a crucifix, as well as any man. Following the lead of Vatican II, they define everything in human terms, with only oblique reference to God. Liturgy, to the Feminists, is understood in sociological terms: people must be drawn together, made to feel a strong sense of community, made to feel good about their social role, and, perhaps motivated to practical action against the ills of the world. Not, of course, that they would forget God the Mother/Father.
The concept that the Order of Acolyte is allied with and is a step on the way to the Priesthood does not enter into their thinking. Or, rather, they view the Priesthood in the same sociological way as Pope Paul VI, who defined his New Mass as:
While it may be possible to discern some Catholicism in these two paragraphs, it takes no grand imagination to see how they can be interpreted in a purely sociological way:
"The Mass is a congregation of the People of God," so we need a few people; we need someone to preside so things won't get too rowdy; Christ will be here because we have a copy of the New American Bible and someone to read from it; His Body will be here because we are His Mystical Body, and He promised "Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them"; we'll break bread together and learn about our friend Jesus.
Given such an interpretation of the Mass and the Priesthood, only a dyed in the wool male chauvinist could disagree with the Feminists!
Of course, for the moment, the "old patriarchs" are insisting that "altar girls" are not a prelude to woman's ordination. But, so what?! A year or two ago the same "patriarchs" were saying that there couldn't be any altar girls. And for the most part, their argument against women's ordination is based on tradition: "Jesus didn't ordain women, and for 2,000 years the Church hasn't done so either." But by their actions, the patriarchs have demonstrated that tradition doesn't matter any more; they permit women to serve as deacons, subdeacons, lectors, and now acolytes. None of these permissions have any basis in tradition -- so why should tradition have anything to do with the priesthood? The argument that only a man can function "in the person of Christ" to consecrate "My Body" and "My Blood" is likewise negated by the modern understanding that these words are a narrative rather than an action in persona Christi -- anyone can narrate; man, woman, or tape recorder.
The Feminists insist that women must be ordained priests because of the shortage of male vocations. A self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one! What holy man in his right mind would want to be a Novus Ordo priest? Why would anyone give up family and fortune, and spend four to eight years in some pervert-ridden seminary having his faith "de-mystified," in order to become "president of the assembly"? In the past, many priests came from the ranks of those who had served at the altar as boys. How many elementary school aged boys can be expected to put on the same "dress" as the altar girls of the future?
And what principle have the liberals driven home once again, if not that, "Disobedience Works!" Communion in the hand was forbidden. Communion under both kinds was restricted to a handful of cases. Altar girls were prohibited. Each one of these curbs fell before the disobedience of local bishops who insisted that these things constituted local "customs" which could not be taken away from their people. And what of those Catholics who obeyed? What of bishops and priests who said, "Girls cannot serve at the altar of a Catholic church"? What of parents who painstakingly explained this reality to the daughters whom they love? What does this do to the already disastrously sagging credibility of the Holy See?
Conservatives ought not take much consolation from the fact that the current instruction requires the permission of the local bishop before altar girls are allowed. Quite unlike permission for the "indult" Mass, the bishops will be falling all over themselves to "reluctantly" grant permission to the ladies -- "after all, Rome has spoken...." And, realistically, how could a lone bishop refuse after permission has been granted in the neighboring dioceses? On what grounds?
And what of the impact on young Catholic women? The world already makes it very difficult for a young girl to develop into a God-fearing woman, properly equipped to take her rightful position in society. Does she need false suggestions of a priestly vocation added to the confusion?
There is a real temptation to pass judgment on the Pope's motives in this fiasco, perhaps even more so than in the past. The wags are already joking about the need to be a man in order to be pope. The more serious critics will engage in debate about his intentions toward the Church, his prudence, and lack of independence from control by the powers of darkness. (No, Virginia, it was the other one who had a double. Perhaps this one is a clone?)
On the greater scale of things, maybe April 13th will be remembered as a day on which many of the faithful began to say "enough," and recognized that the Novus Ordo, even with the "indult" is not Catholicism, but just another dead end. They have a good patron. Saint Hermenegild was, above all, martyred for refusing the Sacraments from the Arian heretics - those who rejected the divinity of Christ.
No, Virginia, you still can't be an altar boy in the real Church.
However, we understand that the Vatican is floating a pool (Send 2 million lira or 75› per square to the Congregation for Divine Worship) for the first insult Mass to have altar girls.
Altar Girls - Again (July 1994)
The 1983 Code of Canon Law: Canon 230.2:
The Wanderer for June 2nd, 1994 commits an entire page to the recent permission for women to perform the functions of acolytes in the conciliar church's Novus Ordo mass. Aside from some preposterous assurances that the conciliar bishops will allow altar girls only if this can be done with "serenity," most of the page is devoted to explaining how the Holy Father came to make his decision. Apparently it all hinges on the interpretation of canon 230.2 of the new (1983) Code of Canon Law. As any first year Latin student can see from the text (see inset) of this canon, it refers to actions permitted to lay people, both male and female. Yet the claim is made that applicability of this passage to women had been under debate at the highest levels of the Church.
Seemingly ignored but much more significant than its applicability, is the content of the canon. As it is phrased, in English and in Latin, it seems to do nothing more than confirm the General Instruction on The Roman Missal (GIRM), which explains how the Novus Ordo is to be celebrated:
"When a man qualified to exercise the office of reader is not present, the conference of bishops may give permission for a competent woman to read, from outside the sanctuary, the lessons which precede the Gospel." (GIRM #66)
"Ministries which are performed outside the sanctuary may be assigned also to women, according to the prudent judgement of the rector of the church." (GIRM #70)
The canon mentions the "roles of commentator, cantor, [and] other such." The two specifically mentioned - commentator and cantor - are roles that have never been considered functions of the clergy in the same way that the functions of acolytes and lectors are. Common sense would suggest that the words "other such" denote similar roles of a non-clerical nature. Perhaps ushers and sacristans.
Yet, we are told that Pope John Paul II felt somehow bound by the realization that the canon included men and women to extend "other such" to mean functions properly performed by those in the order of Acolytes. This, of course, prompts the question, "Why didn't the Pope change the law, or just interpret it in conformity with Scripture and Tradition?" After all, he has his own interpretation of the First Commandment - why not the Canon Law that he himself wrote? Are not ambiguous passages of Canon Law normally interpreted by trying to determine what was in the mind of the lawgiver when it was written? Or by trying to reconcile them with other laws?
The obvious answer is that the Holy Father intended to allow women to function as acolytes since at least 1983. Otherwise, he would have said: "No, I didn't intend 'other such roles' to include the role of acolyte when I gave the law."
Beyond any duplicity that this ten-year long concealed intention might indicate, there lies an even more radical shift away from Catholic tradition. Essentially, the Pope is saying that serving Mass is purely a practical action; that anyone can hand a cruet or ring a bell. But, while this may be true in terms of peoples' abilities, this shift from tradition serves to blur even further the distinction between priest and laity. It furthers the movement minimizing the sacrificial character of the Mass and priesthood, and increases the emphasis on "community" and the "priesthood of the faithful." "The Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly Ordination on women," declares the Holy Father in his May 22nd apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Yet if the conciliar church continues to confuse the functions of its clergy with those of the laity, its ordinations will become as meaningless as those of the Protestant denominations.
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, issued so quickly after the altar girl decision, reminds us of Pope Saint Pius X's remark about the Modernists, that "One page of their works could be signed by a Catholic; turn the page and you think you are reading a rationalist" (Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 18). Presenting truth side by side with error has been a chief device for gaining the acceptance of Modernist errors. Far from being a disappointment to them, the Feminists will have a ball dissecting this latest document. They will point out that the pope contradicted his citation of St. Paul with his altar girl decision. One can hear them already: "Note that it didn't even mention the Diaconate!" "He says that the Church lacks the authority to ordain women - but he didn't say it lacks the ability!" "He must not believe it himself if he had to issue a paper to make it so!" Look for Feminist agitation to continue.
And look for the conservative "spin doctors" to insist that the Pope did not really approve altar girls. "It was the curia." "It was his clone" "They broke his hip to make him do it." "He couldn't have lied to Mother Teresa." Or could he?