May I ask if having female altar servers is fundamentally wrong (at a theological level, e.g. no woman shall receive ordination)? Or is having all-male altar servers just a commendable practice (e.g. priests of the Latin rite are not married, but priests are technically allowed e.g. in the Eastern tradition)?
I asked this repeated question because when I read discussions and articles, the reasons given for encouraging all-male altar servers are usually, but not limited to:
- historically helps nurture priestly vocations as altars boys were seen as the priest’s apprentices
- boys tend to withdraw from altar serving if/when girls are included in this lay ministry
- girls should not dress as priests by wearing albs, surplices, cassocks, etc.
- boys and girls are equally children of God but are not identical and this would help children to realise their identities as males and females
Don’t get me wrong, these are** perfect** reasons why parishes should choose to restrict the right the serve the priest(s) at the altar to men and not to women. However, does the use of female servers actually disturbs the mass itself (e.g. clapping during mass, lay homily, etc.)?
Some articles or forum users go on to cite previous important theologians and priests on this matter for the notion that female servers should not be allowed, for example:
- Pope Gelasius (papalencyclicals.net/Ben14/b14allat.htm)
- Liturgicae Instaurationes (adoremus.org/LiturgicaeInstaurationes.html)
- Inaestimabile donum (adoremus.org/InaestimabileDonum.html)
Then you would obviously get opposing opinions saying the female servers should be allowed, such as this (americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=13056), or how female servers increase vocations to priesthood and gives women pathway to expressing love for Christ.
In my opinion, woman servers should only be used when absolutely necessary.
Also, in one of my previous posts in the forum (not on this topic), when I used the term “altar boys”, a user ‘corrected’ me to using the term “altar servers”, which is quite disappointing in my opinion. girls