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Questioning altar server decision

Anna Nussbaum | Friday, October 10, 2003

It was with great dismay that I read in the Oct. 8 Observer that the Vatican may be considering disallowing the use of altar girls as part of a large-scale plan to correct abuses in Roman Catholic liturgies. What is the reasoning behind such a move, and what is the underlying principle at stake here?The Vatican officially, albeit reluctantly, allowed female altar servers in 1994, and, prior to that, it was common practice in many U.S. dioceses. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, “The Vatican document wants parishes to rely primarily on altar boys and use altar girls only for just pastoral cause.” The document states that, “Parishes should never feel obliged to seek girls for this function.” Why? Is it because they might feel called to further serve their Church at the altar?What is it about a person’s gender that makes him or her more or less able to set table at a feast? What is it about a woman’s presence at the altar (or even a little girl’s presence, as many altar servers are children) that is so repulsive to the Roman Catholic hierarchy? What is it about a person’s gender that makes him or her more or less able to be the face of Christ in the world? How long will women in the Church be treated as second class Christians? When will the Church acknowledge that all Christians are baptized just as Christ was baptized priest, prophet and king?

Anna Nussbaumsophomore Farley Hall Oct. 9