Okay, Ordinariate parishes—how many of you have altar girls?

Let’s have a survey.   This will be unscientific of course and depend on who from the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter actually reads my blog.

How many of our parishes (I know, I know, sodalities, zzzzzzzzzzzz  )  have altar girls?

Ottawa does not.

Thanks be to God.

How many of our parishes have women lectors?

Ottawa does not.

The only time I was ever asked to read anything was for an Advent Lessons and Carols.   I am actually a pretty good reader because of my broadcasting training but I prefer it when men who are properly turned out in cassocks etc. do the reading.  On Sundays, the readings are chanted.

Over to you, readers.

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19 Responses to Okay, Ordinariate parishes—how many of you have altar girls?

  1. P.K.T.P. says:

    I think that it was foolish to raise this issue on this blog. As a forenote, I can only thank God that, as a result of Article 28 of Universæ Ecclesiæ, Altar girls are completely forbidden at the Traditional Latin Mass. As a consequence of Article 28, it is also illicit for laics to receive Holy Communion in manu. We had a case recently in which someone thrust forth his hands at the Altar rails. He is a very good fellow but apparently did not realise that, even had the Celebrant wished to comply with his wishes, it would have been illicit to do so as a consequence of Article 28. So it is irrelevant whether or not some of us are open to that innovation in the Traditional Latin Mass. For those of us who are what Mr. Norm calls ‘uncompromising Latin traditionalists’, Article 28 was the greatest gift of Pope Benedict XVI, even more important than the articles of the same instruction granting the P.C.E.D. status as ‘hierarchial superior’ over the local bishops.

    Since Article 28 of U.E. obviously cannot apply to the Ordinariate Use, two points need to be reiterated, as follows:

    (1) Altar girls are completely illicit at the New Mass except where the local or proper Ordinary has permitted–permitted, not required–them. He cannot require them under current law. This means that Msgr. Steenson could ban Altar girls throughout the Ordinariate, just as Bishop Bruskewicz banned them in the Diocese of Lincoln, in Nebraska, U.S.A. Of course, banning them might be controversial, and I note that, in the U.S.A., only former bishops in Lincoln and Richmond (Virginia) have done so. The ban in Richmond was overturned by the succeeding Bishop. I don’t know the situation in Lincoln after the departure of Bishop Bruskewicz but it would take a specific act of the new Bishop there to reverse the ban.

    (2) Even where a local or proper Ordinary permits Altar girls, it is up to the Celebrant to decide whether or not to enlist them for service. Celebrants are free (at least in legal theory) to say no. I know of two instances in which Celebrants refused to allow women to serve at their Masses. The first of these was removed for completely unrelated reasons and is no longer functioning as a priest as far as I know. The second, as far as I know, continues his ban.

    Therefore, even if Msgr. Steenson does not enact a ban for his Ordinariate (or Msgr. Newton for his, or Msgr. Entwistle for his), it would be up to the Celebrant at each Mass. Of course, law is one thing but reality is something else. For example, even under “Summorum Pontificum” and “Universæ Ecclesiæ” almost all Celebrants of the T.L.M. proceed with public and even private T.L.M.s having invited guests only after having received the blessings of their respective bishops. Yes, there are exceptions but they are few. Most priests wrongly believe that Article 5 of S.P. means that a prospective Celebrant (if he be a Parish Priest or invited by a P.P.) may only proceed with a public Mass if a group petitions for it. This is false. He may proceed if a group petitions for it under Article 5 but the Article is not restrictive and he may also proceed with a public scheduled Mass entirely on his own initiative, even if not one soul petitions for it (no ‘solum’ restrictive provision in Article 5 of S.P. and permission proceeding from Article 1 when read together with Canon 837. Despite this fact, it is rare for a priest not to seek his Bishop’s blessing before proceeding even with a private T.L.M. for invited guests (where he has specific and clear permission to proceed).

    So why do priests consult their bishops? Well, they could be challenged on the grounds that they are not qualified–that they do not know the rubrics or enough Latin, although this can be gotten around if you read U.E. very carefully. No, the real reason for consulting the Bishop is that there is nothing to stop a Bishop from appointing a troublesome priest to a ‘gulag’–a permanent position as hospice chaplain or as prison chaplain, never having a parish. There is law and then there is reality.

    In the case of the Ordinariates, I think that it might be argued successfully that a ban on Altar girls is not some patriarchal act but merely a matter of Anglican patrimony and local custom. There are former Anglican celebrants of the Anglo-Catholic party who likely never had the assistance of women in the sanctuary.

    P.K.T.P.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      P. K. T. P.,

      You wrote: Altar girls are completely illicit at the New Mass except where the local or proper Ordinary has permitted–permitted, not required–them. He cannot require them under current law. This means that Msgr. Steenson could ban Altar girls throughout the Ordinariate, just as Bishop Bruskewicz banned them in the Diocese of Lincoln, in Nebraska, U.S.A. Of course, banning them might be controversial, and I note that, in the U.S.A., only former bishops in Lincoln and Richmond (Virginia) have done so. The ban in Richmond was overturned by the succeeding Bishop. I don’t know the situation in Lincoln after the departure of Bishop Bruskewicz but it would take a specific act of the new Bishop there to reverse the ban.

      Canonically, the diocesan bishop obviously holds the authority to grant or to withdraw permission as he sees fit based upon local circumstances.

      But practically, any bishop who withdraws such permission where a predecessor had granted it would face considerable opposition and perhaps even a wholesale revolt.

      You wrote: Even where a local or proper Ordinary permits Altar girls, it is up to the Celebrant to decide whether or not to enlist them for service. Celebrants are free (at least in legal theory) to say no.

      The principal celebrant of a mass most assuredly has the authority to remove any person appointed to serve as a liturgical minister who is obviously unsuitable or unfit — and undoubtedly would do so if reader or cantor who shows up in the sacristy obviously inebriated or high on drugs and thus unable to perform the functions of the ministry, by way of example.

      But in the absence of such circumstances, a guest principal celebrant of a normal parish mass who were to evict women chosen, trained, and scheduled to serve by the pastor of the parish, or under his authority, from the celebration simply because they were women probably would have a lot of “‘splainin'” to do.

      In this regard, there is also a significant difference between extraordinary ministers of holy communion and other liturgical ministers (altar servers, readers, cantors, musicians, etc.). Canonically, only the diocesan bishop or other ordinary can appoint lay people to serve as extraordinary ministers of holy communion on a stable basis because this constitutes a general delegation of faculties for sacramental ministry. The pastor or principal celebrant can only appoint somebody to serve in these ministries on a single occasion (which is a specific delegation rather than a general delegation) because they also possess a general delegation (“faculties”) for sacramental ministry rather than ordinary authority therefor. Thus, a principal celebrant of a mass who evicts those properly appointed to serve as extraordinary ministers of holy communion on a stable basis is going against the decision of the bishop or other ordinary in this regard. Liturgical ministers whose function is not sacramental in nature, by contrast, are typically appointed by the pastor rather than by the bishop.

      You wrote: In the case of the Ordinariates, I think that it might be argued successfully that a ban on Altar girls is not some patriarchal act but merely a matter of Anglican patrimony and local custom.

      With congregations coming from several sources, the prevailing “local custom” is likely to vary greatly from one congregation to another.

      Also if an ordinary were to promulgate a ban, a particular contrary immemorial custom or a particular contrary custom praeter juris nevertheless could continue.

      Norm.

      • P.K.T.P. says:

        Why do you constantly raise matters which others did not address, and to no purpose I was commenting on Altar servers and not on ‘Extraordinary ministers’. Moreover, the local Parish Priest has the full right to name whomever he wishes, of either sex, in the latter capacity. Bishops do not micromanage parishes and it would be very difficult for a Bishop to impose a female Extraordinary Minister because only males may be appointed on a permanent basis (Canon 230). However,that was not the subject of my post. Every priest having jurisdiction, whether ordinary or presumed, does have the right to refuse to employ female Altar Servers. Period. End of story. I suppose that a guest priest who does so might not be invited to offer Mass there again.

        Permanent lectors and acolytes must be males (Section 1 of Canon 230) and no priest may be made to appoint a female as a temporary lector or acolyte (cf. Section 2, ibid.): it is allowed by never required. Of course, a Bishop could swoop in on the end of a telephone and impose it but that is unpractical and he would not likely be available to do so.

        The Celebrant who is approved for service and is in good standing has authority in the first instance at any Mass he offers provided that he has permission to offer it from the Parish Priest or non-parochial Rector or Chaplain, and the Parish Priest has first-instance jurisdiction over the Masses in his Parish as part of his duties enumerated in Canon 519 and Canon No. 7 of Canon 530. Nowhere in ecclesiastical law is he required to enlist female Eucharistic ministers or servers and so he need not do so because, under Canon 519, he has the office of “teaching, sanctifying and ruling” (Canon 519). So it’s up to him. Of course, a Bishop could eventually transfer any priest but he may not remove him except for just cause.

        I celebrate with joy the fact that only males may be appointed lector or acolyte on a permanent basis (Canon 230, Sect. 1) and, on particular occasions, the priest, who has a function of rulership, need not appoint anyone in particular because no law exists which forces him to do so.

        P.K.T.P.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        P. K. T. P.,

        You wrote: Moreover, the local Parish Priest has the full right to name whomever he wishes, of either sex, in the latter capacity. Bishops do not micromanage parishes and it would be very difficult for a Bishop to impose a female Extraordinary Minister because only males may be appointed on a permanent basis (Canon 230).

        1. Ecclesiastical law is very clear that only the bishop can appoint a person to exercise sacramental ministry on a stable basis, either for some definite period of time or indefinitely. It is true that the pastor normally submits a list of candidates for that ministry and that the bishop normally appoints the candidates on the pastor’s list to exercise that ministry in his parish, but the canonical appointment does in fact come from the bishop himself.

        2. Section 1 of Canon 230, to which you refer, pertains only to those who exercise the ministry of “lector” and “acolyte.” It is completely silent with respect to all other ministries, including extraordinary ministers of holy communion, and thus imposes no limitations whatsoever on appointments to any other ministry. Note that even the remainder of Canon 230, which pertains to other lay persons performing the duties of a lector and the duties of an acolyte (which encompasses those who exercise the ministries of “reader” and “altar server” here in North America) makes no distinction whatsoever between male and female.

        You wrote: Permanent lectors and acolytes must be males (Section 1 of Canon 230) and no priest may be made to appoint a female as a temporary lector or acolyte (cf. Section 2, ibid.): it is allowed by never required. Of course, a Bishop could swoop in on the end of a telephone and impose it but that is unpractical and he would not likely be available to do so.

        Yes, and both “lectors” and “acolytes” are formally appointed and installed by a bishop or another ordinary or, in the case of candidates from religious orders, by the major superior of the order. The Roman Pontifical contains the approved rites for installation of both lectors and acolytes.

        But here in North America, the ministries of “lector” and “acolyte” are normally conferred only on seminarians — and then only because ecclesiastical law pertaining to formation of clerics requires a “suitable” period of service in each of these ministries before ordination to the deaconate. The people who proclaim the readings from scripture and who serve at the altar during mass on a stable basis are instead receive appointments as “readers” and “altar servers” from the pastor of the parish.

        You wrote: Of course, a Bishop could eventually transfer any priest but he may not remove him except for just cause.

        Here, disobedience constitutes “just cause” not only for removal of a pastor from office, but also for imposition of canonical penalties up to and including excommunication.

        Norm.

  2. Tim Fitzgibbon says:

    Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston has Men and Women lectors. Altar servers are Men and Boys only.

    And I enjoy reading your blog.

  3. Joe and Caren LeMark says:

    St. Joseph of Arimethea Anglican Use Society in Indianapolis only has men and boys on the altar. Our chaplain does all the readings. In the past, only male lectors read, and for Lessons in Carols, there were a few nicely trained women readers joined the men in reading (but it was not the holy sacrifice of the Mass).
    Couldn’t be happier with our Anglican Use Mass, and the chaplains that have served us in Indy.

  4. Pingback: Okay, Ordinariate parishes—how many of you have altar girls? | Catholic Canada

  5. Incarnation Catholic Church in Orlando has men only in the Sanctuary, and the men are the same every Sunday. Our Cantor does all of the readings except the Gospel.
    There is no tradition of female altar boys here.
    I think it would be grand if all the Ordinaries were to disallow the practise of having female altar boys in the Ordinariates. It is an unjustifiable novelty.

  6. Troy says:

    St. Benedict’s Edmonton, has only men and boys as lectors and altar servers.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Troy,

      You said: St. Benedict’s Edmonton…

      Is there any word yet as to when your congregation will move into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter?

      Norm.

      • P.K.T.P. says:

        Well, Fr. Skelton, from that community, is one of the eight mentioned by Fr. Kenyon. No rescript for him *yet* but waiting . . . .

        P.K.T.P.

      • Troy says:

        Not entirely sure, but soon I suspect. My guess is that the paper work is in the works. Regardless we are a very blessed bunch and feel ourselves very much part of the Ordinariate family, thanks to the encouragement and prayers of many.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Troy,

        You wrote: Not entirely sure, but soon I suspect. My guess is that the paper work is in the works.

        I rather suspect that the paperwork is in somebody’s “pending” file awaiting signature upon Mr. Skelton’s Catholic ordination to the order of presbyter. Many of us are praying for that to happen sooner rather than later!

        You wrote: Regardless we are a very blessed bunch and feel ourselves very much part of the Ordinariate family, thanks to the encouragement and prayers of many.

        I’m very encouraged to hear that! You did not provide details, but it does sound like the Archbishop of Edmonton is providing adequately for your community’s spiritual needs in the interim.

        Norm.

  7. PATRICK TAC says:

    I GREE FULLY

  8. Thiedra Thomas says:

    so all we have to do is wait for the last person who remembers a time without altar girls before it becomes traditional to have altar girls, okay. but all of the apostles are men maybe there were women apostles but no one wrote about them because the people who wrote the bible dont want women to be a part of the heart of the leadership? they didnt say alot about mama mary in the bible so maybe well have women priests too if people agree that thats what jesus woudlve wanted

  9. gk says:

    We have a bunch of baby girls running around during mass. Making baby noises. Sometimes they cut loose and make it very close to the altar before Mommy or Daddy runs to scoop them up. We have, so far, not restricted the little girls from running around any more than the little boys. A dense, theological debate is raging on our Pastor’s FB b/c one of the little girls is his (ahem, and of course, Laura’s), and Maggie is clearly holding the candle snuffer thingy, i.e., evidence of heterodoxy. We expect to appeal to Rome for clarification on the issue. (P.S. My best days were spent in the “cry room” with the other Dads. We were among our people. Unruly. Smiled and giggled too much. Dropped our Cheerios on the floor. Truly the best of times.)

  10. P.K.T.P. says:

    Mr. Norm:

    On your first point, if the P.P. submits a list, he can simply keep the ladies off the list. Moreover, I know for a fact that Parish Priests here do no such thing. They are simply given leave to enlist whomever they wish. So please quote the ecclesiastical law to which you refer.

    On your second point, Section 1 of Canon 230 refers to appointments of lectors and acolytes made on a stable basis, not on an occasional basis, which is the subject of Section 2. So your point is moot. On the matter of Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers, once again, I never referred to them in the first place.

    On your third point, a lector is just another word for a reader, except that the latter is not appointed on a permanent basis under Section 2 of Canon 230. If appointed on a stable and permanent basis, we are talking about a lector. Acolytes also are those servers who serve as assistants at the Altar, who carry torches and the like. Parish priests have ordinary jurisdiction in parishes–they are the persons of their respective parishes from the date they are given a stable appointment for a given period. Under Section 1 of Canon 228, it is clear that qualified laics must be found to be qualified and able to discharge duties to which they may be appointed. Obviously, it is the respective parish priests and rectors of non-parochial churches who will have the usual task of determining this. I can’t imagine Bishop Bloke telephoning Fr. Goodman and telling him that he must admit Susie Sweety as a lector. Should that happen, in this time of a shortage of priests, there is the risk that the Priest would walk.

    You are spinning your wheels, as usual, so please quote the ecclesiastical law on which you hang your entire case.

    P.K.T.P.

  11. P.K.T.P. says:

    I suggest that, on ecclesiastical law, Mr. Norm needs to read the commentary to the Code and then read the full law on what it means for a priest to be appointed Parish Priest (miscalled ‘Pastor’ in the American translation) and what that entails. The Parish Priest is the Person of the Parish (cf. Canon 532) and that does give him authority to run the Parish within the law as he sees fit, provided that he not violate any laws in doing so, and I see no reference to bishops naming Altar Servers in the Code–anywhere. On the contrary, under No. 7 of Canon 530, the Priest exercises his pastoral and authoritative ministry in the celebration of Mass. Under Section 2 of Canon 529, it is the Parish Priest who is to “recognise and promote the specific role which lay members of Christ’s faithful have in the mission of the Church”, suggesting that, in context of the Parish, he is deemed at law to know who is suitable for any given position to be taken at Mass. He also has the ordinary function of teaching, sanctifying and *ruling* within the norms of the law. Once appointed, the P.P. has a certain autonomy in the ordinary business of running the Parish. Subsidiarity works both ways: it not only accords bishops much authority but also protects priests in their parochial administration. It would be very difficult for a bishop to dictate who will be the Altar servers in a particular parish, and P.P. could have recourse to Rome in such cases. It’s what the Congregation for the Clergy is all about. Having said this, it is true that local bishops and proper ordinaries have enormous authority in their respective dioceses. If a Bishop cannot remove a priest over the issue of who will be that priest’s Altar servers, the Bishop certainly can ‘decline to re-appoint him’ after his standard term as Parish Priest (which is five years in many places). This is quite true, and there are gulags in every diocese. But it’s also true that we have a shortage of priests, and bishops can seldom afford to micromanage their parishes without coming up against an implacable wall of opposition from needed priests.

    By the way, an Acolyte is a Mass-server in ecclesiastical law. He is anyone who assists the Priest in the celebration of Mass, but the term excludes the duties of lectors. So torch-bearers and sanctuary respondents (rarely needed in New Masses) and crucifers, thurifers and Boat-bearers and Aspersory-bearers are all covered by the term as it is used in Canon 230: these are the proper functions of Acolytes. Only lectors are not covered. So Section 1 of 230 is referring to ALL those given permanent and stable ministries to read the lections or serve at Mass (except for extraordinary ministers of Communion). The temporary positions corresponding to these ministries are obviously assigned by the respective Parish Priests, as they have rulership of their parishes and the Code does not mention this as a function of the local Bishop (cf. wording of Canon 230): so the function is proper to the proper pastor of the parish, the Parish Priest. Notice that Section 2 actually specifies which other ministers may be appointed freely from among the laity: cantors and commentators. It presumably also refers to Extraordinary ministers of communion but these need never be employed when the Celebrant finds that they are not needed (given numbers of communicants). No, Mr. Norm, bishops may not micromanage parishes and dictate to parish priests who they must enlist to help them celebrate Mass. I know of at least two priests who have restricted Altar service to males for the New Mass, but they enlist men and women to read the lections at Mass.

    In the end, however, there is reality, and priests who do not get along with their bishops and/or vicars-general can find that life becomes very difficult for them. This is why it is difficult today to find solid and orthodox parishes. The bishops are promoted for conforming to the nonsense spewed forth by the misprinciples of Vatican II, and priests who decline to co-operate find themselves in trouble. The fruits of this are everywhere apparent. It is why, for example, only 18% of American faithful believe in the Real Presence as taught by the Church. A priest who instructs children on what is meant by transubstantiation or sanctifying grace will soon find himself up against the lay catechist in a pantsuit who goes to the Bishop. A priest who tries to remove a busybody office secretary finds that he is out instead of her. A priest who tries to remove the nauseating animators and commentators will find himself being transferred to a backwater parish. In other words, today’s Church of norm is the Church of Mr. Norm, which is why she is crippled by error and falling. In a local parish here, there used to be a very tough Parish Priest from Ireland (a very tall and burly man) who even stood up to the insane liberal Bishop in the 1960s and 1970s. He threatened to ‘go independent’ if he were forced to say the New Mass and he was so popular that the Bishop backed off and compromised. (For years before 1984, he said the Traditional Mass in English, versus solem orientem: the Bishop turned a blind eye to it, waiting for him to retire.) As a result, we still have one High Altar in one parish in my Diocese, and that parish is the only one left which still looks Catholic. On one occasion, the Bishop sent in a ‘teaching sister’ to ‘assist’ this Priest to run the Parish. I heard that he chased sister right out of the church and part way down the street. But this Priest would have been removed had the Bishop not feared the faithful’s reaction. That’s where reality comes in.

    P.K.T.P.

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