My comments in blue.
From America Magazine,
by The Editors
This is not a local story, but one that represents larger trends in the church—in the priesthood, the liturgy and in the role of the people of God. Recently Sts. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, Ariz., changed its policy on altar servers. From now on only boys may serve; girls may apply for jobs as sacristans. Why? The rector of the cathedral told The Catholic Sun that the cathedral is not alone in making this regulation. A parish in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., he argues, have found that replacing girls with boys as servers leads to more vocations to the priesthood.
These moves to limit laywomen’s access to the altar threaten to drag the church back into the pre-Vatican II world.
Unfortunately, that is not going to happen.
One wonders if next the altar rail will return, another barrier between the priests and the people.
Either standing in line or using an altar rail, the congregation receives the body and blood of the Living God, and kneeling at the rail is more reverent. But the America editors don't care about that because they are Marxists who think that the difference between priest and laity is an unjust class distinction.
According to the rector, people who are upset about this decision concerning Mass servers make a mistake in considering it “a question of rights,” as if someone’s rights were being denied. But, he says, no one has a “right” to be a server or even more a priest. One must be “called” to any church office. When the secular world comments on who should be an altar server, he says, it has only an emotional view, unguided by the light of reason.
It's as if the rector predicted this editorial.
The key issue is the status of the baptized: that the laity may be called by the Spirit to offer their talents in various roles. The rejection of altar girls disregards the counsel of the Second Vatican Council that the charisms of the baptized “are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation.” By virtue of baptism, the council reminds us, “there is neither male nor female. For you are all ‘one’ in Christ Jesus.” There is “a true equality between all with regard to the dignity and activity which is common to all the faithful in building up the Body of Christ” (“Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” Nos. 12, 32).
The charism argument presented by America is the same used by those who want to ordain women. The idea is that if you feel called to something, you have a special charism for that activity, and that this activity ought to be pursued no matter what. Personally, I feel I have a charism for punching America magazine editors in the face.
That this call should be fully welcomed does not appear to be a priority in Phoenix. Yes, the Vatican instruction “Sacrament of Redemption” (2004) allows women servers, but it leaves the decision to local bishops. In Phoenix the bishop leaves it to the pastors. This pastor did not consult the parish council, he says, because its members are not theologically trained.
The rector did nothing outside of his rights and America still complains because he did not consult the parish council. Of course, the council is free to make a recommendation on a policy whether a pastor consults it or not. Either way, the parish council plays a purely advisory role and it really doesn't matter whether or not the pastor asks them for their opinion.
Another issue is the image of the priesthood today. Is it wise to re-enforce the sense of the priesthood as a clerical caste?
Better a distant clerical caste than a collection of middle-aged men who insist on being called "Bob" and wear gay sweaters.
Is the acolyte supposed to be like the page who serves Sir Galahad until King Arthur dubs him a knight?
Well yeah, that's the idea.
In a culture where parents want their daughters to have the same opportunities as their sons—in co-ed Catholic colleges, in the armed services (getting shot at), in athletics, in employment—the church can look irrelevant, even foolish, in shunting them aside.
America says the Church ought to conform to the culture so as to avoid looking foolish. In other words, ordain women, marry gays, and endorse contraception!
The more the priesthood is presented as an exclusive club, the smaller and more remote it will become.
No, the more priests are presented as liberal and effeminate, the smaller the priesthood will become.
Those who put up barriers between themselves and the people should, using modern parlance, recall Jesus’ words to his disciples: “Look, how many times do I have to tell you? You are here to serve.”
Inevitably the issue of women’s roles in the church raises the question of women’s ordination to the priesthood. Recently a cardinal in Lisbon and some bishops in Brazil, among others, also raised the question; but since Pope Benedict XVI, despite continued agitation, has reaffirmed the policy of John Paul II to allow no discussion of the topic, the matter of altar servers must be considered a separate and independent issue.
If it's a separate and independent issue why bring it up at all? Obviously because America supports the imbecilic idea of women "priests."
In no way should policies imply that women are second-class citizens—welcome to tidy up the sacristy, arrange flowers and clean linens but not to set the gifts at the altar or hold the sacramentary or censer.
Only in the mind of a liberal Catholic could a simple division of roles mean oppression of women.
Rather, they must be welcomed into every service and leadership role, including catechists, lectors, chancellors and general secretaries of bishops’ conferences.
Calling for women to be welcomed into "every service and leadership role" is a less than subtle endorsement of women's ordination.
(The diaconate for women remains an open question and ought to be explored.)
Women deacons used to exist in the Church though they were probably not ordained. Even if women could be ordained to the diaconate, doing so today would only confuse the great mass of unthinking Catholics who do not understand the major differences between priests and deacons and further the cause of women's ordination. This of course is exactly what the editors of America want and their call for the question of female deacons to be "explored" really means "make women deacons now!"
Churches that invite all their people to bring all their talents to the welfare of the congregation will thrive. To tell a young woman that she may no longer pour the water on the priest’s fingers at the Lavabo looks like sexism.
Liberals have terrible priorities. Who cares about increasing priestly vocations? Not looking sexist is what's really important!
If the ban in these dioceses continues and spreads, perhaps women and girls will consider withholding their other services to the parishes, and men and boys, in solidarity with their sisters, will decline the honor of acolyte.
No, that is not going to happen because the sort of girl who wants to serve her parish is not a spoiled diva, and the sort of boy who wants to serve at the altar is not a feminist wimp.
Having girls share serving opportunities with boys is an expression of their equality in Christ. Parishes must create a variety of social and service activities. A distinguishing characteristic of today’s young men and women, even when they are not “devout” in the usual sense, is their rejection of discrimination in any form.
Well heck, I'm more or less opposed to discrimination and that makes me "alternatively devout". I guess I don't have to go to Mass!
They are highly sensitive to any hint of exclusionary policies in organizations. Perhaps if more young people (notice they write "people" instead of men) believed they could continue that commitment to equality as priests, more would be ready to follow a priestly vocation.
The mission of the priesthood is the salvation of sinners and the glorification of God, not the advancement of liberal ideas about "equality." If a young man is primarily concerned with political correctness, he should not be a priest, he should be a writer for America magazine.