Thursday, August 25, 2011

The male-only sanctuary: yes or no?

I wrote a while back that I needed to stay away from Father Zuhlsdorf's blog, particularly because of his commenters; in light of yesterday's post I hope it will be clearer why I felt the need to take such a step. What is a temptation for me (to superiority, liturgical snobbishness, and so forth) is not for everyone.

That said, though, I do end up there from time to time; usually I will click a link from someplace else and find myself on WDTPRS. Which is fine; like I said in the earlier post, so long as I stay out of the comment boxes there I'm avoiding unnecessary temptation. Sure, I don't always stay out of the comment boxes--but I'm getting better at it.

That's how I noticed this poll that Father Z is running (on a totally-safe, no comment box post!), and which he has asked other Catholic bloggers to link to:

Does an all-male sanctuary foster vocations to the priesthood?

You can click on the link to vote (and if it doesn't work for some reason, let me know). But before you do, may I ask that we take a look at that question?

In light of the recent decision by the pastor at the Phoenix cathedral to limit the role of altar server to boys only, many people will probably click the "yes" button on that poll without really thinking about it--as in, yes, having only male altar servers does foster vocations to the priesthood. I tend to think that is true, myself. I don't know that having only male altar servers is the only or best way to foster vocations to the priesthood, but it is a time-honored way to do so.

But that's not really what the question is asking. It is asking whether an "all-male sanctuary" fosters vocations to the priesthood. As in, no women on the altar. No female lectors unless they can read from somewhere other than the altar (if that's even permitted, which I don't know). No females making announcements before or after Mass; no females serving as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (which would be one way of getting rid of EMHCs, as the handful of men still willing to show up would not be enough to increase the speed at which Communion is distributed, let alone to offer Communion under both species). No women, period, in the sanctuary, just like back in the "good old days," when women were only permitted up there outside of Mass to clean.

(Of course, that's where I do bristle, just a little. If the Church in her wisdom decides to let only men be present in the sanctuary, that is absolutely fine and dandy with me, so long as the men also take over all of the responsibilities of sweeping and dusting and removing candle-wax from floors and furnishings and washing and caring for the linens and washing the stained-glass windows and polishing the wood and vacuuming or cleaning carpets or rugs and decorating for the liturgical seasons as appropriate and everything else that needs doing. "No women in the sanctuary" should NOT mean "No women in the sanctuary except when there's 'women's work' to be done and nobody is going to see them doing it and get offended that they are there." You can't have it both ways, gentlemen, in my opinion.)

Now, if the Church in her wisdom decides to have an "all-male sanctuary," in order to foster vocations, I think it's fair to ask how, exactly, having married adult males in roles such as lector etc. does this. It is my understanding that the reason these roles were taken over by adult lay men who were not pursuing priestly vocations was that there simply weren't enough men who were pursuing vocations to do them. That is, there was a time when the "all-male sanctuary" was made up of both clergy and lay men--but the lay men were on their way to becoming clergy in a real sense, having received the minor orders and so forth. True, not all of them would reach that goal. And true, the youngest altar servers were not on that path--yet. But if a seminarian reads the readings and the deacon proclaims the Gospel and gives the homily (his proper role) and the priest recites the Canon and confects the Eucharist--is that really the same draw to the priesthood to the young men serving at the altar as having Mr. Smith (Tommy's dad) read the first reading and Mr. Brown (Amy's father) read the second reading and Mr. Thomas (the second-grade teacher at the parish school) read the Prayers of the Faithful and, after Communion, having Mr. Gray from the parish council (a grandfather of many!) read some brief announcements before the final blessing?

In other words, is there something mystical about having males only on the altar that makes young boys want to grow up to be priests--or must those males be predominantly clergy or on their way to ordination for that beneficial effect to occur? In the second set of examples I give, might not the young man serving at the altar be just as likely to think that he'd like to grow up to be a husband and father (and, eventually, grandfather) like most of those other men as to grow up to be a priest? Without the seminarians and deacons and associate pastors and pastor, in other words, will removing women from the sanctuary be enough by itself to cause young men to open themselves up to God's call to the priesthood?

Please note: I think this is a very different question from the question, "Should we go back to the practice of having only altar boys, and not female altar servers, at Mass?" There might be many good reasons to encourage young men to be altar servers as a possible doorway to their contemplation of a priestly vocation. I'm just not sure that widening that idea to ban all women from the sanctuary will indeed bring about the beneficial surge in vocations to the priesthood which some seem to think will happen.

Whatever you think about this, I hope you'll share your "vote" over at Father Z's blog, and that you'll also let us know in the comment box what you think of this whole issue!


Anonymous said...

As far as EMsHC go, they should really be extraordinary, as Ecclesia de Mysterio makes plain (if any bishops and pastors had the guts to obey it). In short, most parishes should have exactly none. It would be better to line the people up -- standing, no rail needed -- and have the priest shuffle along the line. That way people would be standing still for several seconds, to prepare spiritually, and then to commune deliberately and reverently. The drive-thru way we do it now allows no time for reverence. It's like a sprint, and I'm always chewing God Almighty(!) as I'm striding back to my pew. Eliminating EMsHC and doing distribution a little differently solves that.

As far as the bit about men not being around to serve as EMsHC: Part of the problem with Christianity in the modern west is that it's heavily feminized, and although it's not PC to admit it, men don't want much to do with things dominated by women. Perhaps if women weren't running parishes and EMsHC teams, more men would step up. It's actually a similar situation to that of altar boys and girls: Altar girls really do drive away altar boys, because boys don't feel like mingling with girls.

I suppose counterexamples abound, but this has been my experience, and I think it stands to reason in light of experience and human nature.

Red Cardigan said...

Well, as I've said before, my poor pastor would have a problem if he couldn't ever use EMHCs. He says Mass at 7:15 a.m. at the main church, drives 25 minutes down the road to our church for the 8:30 a.m., and then drives the 25 minutes back to the main church for their 10:00 a.m. (The choir sometimes gets directions to "sing a longer prelude--Father isn't here yet!!") Sometimes he has a retired priest available to say one of those three Masses, but not always.

The commute will shrink to just under 20 minutes if the road construction on the main road between the two churches ever gets finished. :( But we also might be losing our retired priest soon; he has said that he feels that he is too old to have to learn yet another Mass (new translation) and may just "retire" retire come this fall. I hope he changes his mind...

Anyway, I would have no problem with letting bishops approve EMHCs on a case-by-case basis rather than having them every Sunday at every Mass (especially at parishes where many priests are available). But, as I've said before, that means the Church must decide: is Communion under both species for the laity a once-in-a-while, rare special occasion thing, or is it supposed to be weekly?

geeklady said...

A long time ago now, back when I was in college, I was acquainted with an Orthodox Jew. And in one of our many conversations about religion, he told me (Im paraphrasing here, its bethe over a decade) the reason why men had specific obligations for prayer at the synagoge and why women's work was not banned on the Sabbath (also why spiritual descent was reckoned through the mother) was that women were on a higher spiritual level than men, and men needed the extra help.

So with this little insight, I fully support an all male sanctuary and think it might do them some good.

See, the only part about the Phoenix cathedral decision that steamed me up was when they said they would direct girls who wanted to serve towards the position of sacristans! I can understand the point about only men in the sanctuary, even if I think Fr. Z gets a little 'sacred masculine' goofy over it. But if you're going to let the women in to clean and organize, there's no reason why they can't serve in any other lay capacity.

_nota_bene said...

Thanks, Red.

I don't intend to vote on Father Z's poll because when Father Z gets going on non-men (that is, women and children) in church, I get tempted to become Orthodox or conservative Lutheran or just about anything that isn't Father Z's church or Calvinism. I don't get this whole thing, though. The Newman Center at my Alma Mater nurtured lots of vocations and girls were allowed on the altar. Sometimes altar girls even became religious sisters! I just don't think that a priestly vocation is so fragile that a girl's presence in the sanctuary will break it.

_nota_bene said...

Oh, I usually comment as Alice.

Lauren Anderson said...

I saw the poll yesterday and thought the same thing that you did, Red. Sometimes those questions are sneaky and the voters haven't thought about all which encompasses the question. They think, "Oh, yeah, Father Z thinks this way, it must be right. So I'll vote to please him without really thinking about it."
Not that they all do this. But quite a few of them do and I was one myself as I was learning more about my faith.

Barbara C. said...

Anonymous wrote: "men don't want much to do with things dominated by women."

I've heard this before and two things always cross my mind.

1) Most men must put their pride and masculinity before their love of Christ. I think this causes a lot of problems in marriage, too. A lot of men write off their responsibilities to help around the house as "women's work", and then since the feminist movement told women that there is no such things as gender specific work, a lot of men are ready to pass off even traditional male duties (auto, yardwork, finances) on women, too.

My husband I were also talking about how almost all of his Facebook friends who ask for or offer prayers on Facebook are Southern and women. A lot of men perceive religion as a "woman thing" in general, and like to keep their faith on the down low to avoid looking feminine.

2) Is this a chicken/egg phenomenon? Did men stop stepping up to take responsibilities in the Church because so many women did, or did women start stepping up because so many men refused in the first place?

Chris-2-4 said...

I don't really buy this "men are not involved in Church ministry" allegation.

Red Cardigan said...

Chris, what ministry or apostolate are you involved with at your parish?

Studies show again and again that regardless of denomination, it's the women who do the bulk of volunteering etc. at the average church. There are exceptions, though, and if you belong to a parish that is an exception it can be hard to see.

Take our tiny mission parish. I've never seen so many men involved in things! It's inspiring: ushers, EMHCs, lectors, even some male choir members.

I always wondered why our parish was different (thought maybe it was because we have an active men's club and women's club)--until one Sunday near Veterans' Day Father asked all the veterans to stand for a blessing. There were a couple of women, sure. But it looked like almost half the parish stood for the blessing--all of them men, and all of them recognizable from the various parish volunteer work they do!

Maybe Father Z.'s question should be: should we encourage Catholic boys to obtain military service in order to get more priests...


Chris-2-4 said...


I'm the regular sacristan at Sunday Morning mass, so I see who is signed up week after week as lectors, EMHCs, choir, ushers and servers (as well as Children's Liturgy of the Word catechists)

I would estimate that it is at least 50/50 male participation.

So, anecdotally, your parish is surprisingly men-involved and my parish is surprisingly men-involved.

Maybe there is more myth to it than people think...

Chris-2-4 said...

Our liturgical schedule for September is out and posted online, so I ran the numbers. For the month of September, it runs about 45% men and 55% women. Lectors and Ushers are majority men, EMHCs are a disproportionate majority women, (though if you count in the priest and deacons it gets back up to 45% men)

Perhaps not surprising, yet most pertinent to this discussion the lowest percentage of any of the ministries, by far, was Altar Server. In our parish with about 45% male liturgical participation for September, the Altar Servers are 80% girls and 20% boys.


Bathilda said...

Chris 2-4, What about the people who do the parish laundry? Any men do that? How about the "environment" (decorating the church)? Again, any men takers to set out flowers and hang the banners, felt or otherwise? I am not sure what the numbers are at my parish, but just in observation at the 5:00 Saturday Mass, it's about 65/45 in favor of women for singing, reading and ushering. Servers seem to be about 50/50...but I'm going to look more closely after Chris 2-4's numbers. I can tell you that it's all women who do the wash, and I've seen maybe three or four (teen) boys EVER helping with decorating the church--even for the big feasts when we need all hands on deck. We have tons of large live plants and really go all out decorating for Christmas and Easter.

Chris-2-4 said...

I have no idea, Bathilda. My guess would in fact be that some women do the "parish laundry" though. I was just dealing with the numbers I encounter and have access to. But I know our K of C's are very active as well as many men in Cursillo, so it's not fair to pick one typical "women's task" and basically conclude that since no men do the traditionally women's tasks, that Men are therefore not involved. Men do most of the traditionally male roles, women do most of the traditionally women roles and gender neutral roles seem to be split roughly 40-45%/60-55% male to female. Our director of religious ed is a man as well as our RCIA Director and we have a man on staff who comes in during the week and cleans and does maintenance and repairs as needed in the church. We also have 4 women including a secretary, book keeper, Youth Minister and Ministries coordinater. And a priest and 3 deacons.

We are also, as I claim, "on the buckle of the bible belt", so that may skew things a bit.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I'm not sure any of this will have much impact on choosing vocations for the priesthood, but I thought the reason that a male-only priesthood is not misogyny is precisely because there is some mystical reason that only men are suited for the vocation, not that anyone is saying there is anything inferior about women.

freddy said...

I'm a member of an FSSP parish, which means "all E.F. all the time." The FSSP is in good standing with Rome, just so you know.

Anyway, I probably have a slightly different perspective on this, given that our pastor has gone out of his way to instruct us on why we do what we do. He's smart and eloquent, I'm not, so if I come off sounding loony, it's just me!

I'd turn the whole question on its head: Does having women serving in the santuary foster vocations?

I'd go further and ask if having lay lectors and EMCH's is all that helpful, either. After all, if Father is capable of reading the Gospel, why can't he read a reading or two as well? And the symbolism of priest-as-alter-Christus feeding his children -- his lambs, so to speak, is profound. We lose a little part of our heritage when we ignore something so important. Now, I'm not saying that there should not be EMCH's; there are many times and places where they are necessary; but does it really foster vocations?

I'd like to address a couple other points.

1. You propose a dichotomy between men serving in the sanctuary who are preparing for the priesthood, and those who are not. I would say that "Tommy's dad" and "Amy's father" might be discerning a call to the permanent diaconate, and "Mr. Thomas" might be a late vocation, as well as "Mr. Gray" if he is a widower. Even if they're not, other young or older men in the parish might be inspired by their service to do so. Yet this is something Tommy's mom, Amy's mother, Miss Thomas and Ms. Gray cannot do, and while it is possible they might inspire some young man to discern a vocation, it is, I think, less likely.

2. I find your opinion regarding what you call "women's work" in the sanctuary (all things traditionally done by men, by the way, and in our parish most is still done by men) to be regrettable. Some of this work -- cleaning the church linens, sewing the beautiful vestments, has been seen by the women who do these things as service to Our Lord much as Our Lady and the other women who ministered to Him during His earthly life. To denigrate it as less worthy than visible service, or to assume that men do is cheap and ugly.

I certainly don't see the Church banning female service in the sanctuary any time soon, and that folks who ardently wish for it and sneer at the women they do see in the sanctuary are wrong and risk being angry and disappointed.

But I also think it's important to have these discussions, to learn from one another, and to see what's going on in heads not our own.

Karen said...

I have been thinking about the "men quit something when women get involved" question a lot lately, since I have a 13-year-old son. My observation of Andy and his friends is that some of the Alpha Male boys join lots of clubs and do lots of activities; almost all the girls join something; but the non-alpha later blooming guys don't do anything. My son is in the latter group. I encourage (read "nag, scold, and berate, over and over and over and . . . .) him to join school clubs, try out for teams, and do more in orchestra, but have had little success. I wonder if that dynamic -- I'm not popular so I want to hide in a hole -- isn't as much at work here as anything else. Maybe we should work at making religion more welcoming to the less aggressive boys and men?

Kimberly Margosein said...

"In light of the recent decision by the pastor at the Phoenix cathedral to limit the role of altar server to boys only, many people will probably click the "yes" button on that poll without really thinking about it--as in, yes, having only male altar servers does foster vocations to the priesthood."

How much did the Phoenix Diocese shell out for priestly sex abuse? This misogynist should have been shipped out long ago.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Kimberly, I think you are drawing connections that don't really exist. A friend of mine in high school spent ten years teaching school, without ever marrying, and then felt a call to the priesthood. Unlike me, he was raised in a Catholic family, and unlike me, he accepted that faith long before be became a priest. Although he was in charge of young boys for ten years, and has since taught school some years, and been a parish priest other years, there has been no hint of scandal in his ministry. Whether he allows girls to assist in some capacity at the altar I have no idea, but it would not be an indicative of whether he has a predilection for scandal, sexual or otherwise. I know from his Christmas letters that he has deep respect for his sister, niece, and great niece, and not as nice little inferior beings. The point of these anecdotal diversions being, life, and even priesthood, is full of a variety of variables. Seldom is any one a sure indicative of any of the others.

Tony said...

Young boys generally don't involve themselves by choice in co-ed activities. I know I (and my friends) didn't when I was growing up. When girls are involved (especially older "bossy" girls) the boys don't get involved.

Part of the problem is (and Red exemplified it with her comment) that there is what is considered "worthy work" and "unworthy work". Reading from the ambo, worthy work. Dusting pews, unworthy work. Handing out communion, worthy work. Cleaning linens, unworthy work. I would love to clean the linens because I don't believe it's being done properly. The lady who does them washes the purifacators in the washing machine and pipes the cleaning water into the sewer. We have a stationary tub that goes right into the ground. But I don't want to step on the toes of the lady who volunteers for this very important ministry (and it *is* a ministry).

All work is worthy, and when done in the service of God is holy. The person who changes the candles, or cleans spilled wax is as worthy as the person who reads (and being less visible, probably receives more grace from their service).

But back to the question at hand. In the diocese of Rochester (right next door to us) there has been blossoming of ladies (most notably sisters) who are being assigned "pastoral ministers" at parishes, running the show. They preside at "communion in the absense of a priest" and many times preach a homily, etc.

The priests are even called "sacramental ministers" or something like that. When priests are only deemed necessary as "sacrament vending machines", why would a young man give up wife and family to dedicate his life to that vocation?

When boys are necessary to serve mass, more boys want to do it. When boys are not necessary, they don't.

Red Cardigan said...

Tony, the perception that there is "worthy" work and "unworthy" work comes from men, primarily, not from women (not even from all feminists).

I hate to do this, but consider this comment from a commenter at Fr. Z's website (can't link to it, but it's the thread below the one I linked to):

"I don’t like the “we should restrict altar boys to boys because it fosters vocations to the priesthood” argument. I am not called to the priesthood, have determined that a while ago, and continued serving both at a Roman Mass and at my Divine Liturgy. We should rather restrict altar boys to boys because the act of serving itself is a quasi-sacerdotal act. All of the Eastern Catholic Churches in the respective particular laws forbid women from going behind the iconostasis except to clean once a year – and this has nothing to do with fostering vocations to the priesthood, but simply because it is a sacred area that can be entered only by a quasi-sacerdotas."

And men are quasi-sacerdotas, because they are valid matter for the priesthood (the commenter continues), but women are not, and must never set foot in the holy place. Unless it is dirty, and needs to be cleaned.

Do you see why this is a problem? To me, it sends a very mixed message: women can't enter the sanctuary because they are not sacred, set apart to God's service, and potentially priests. Okay, that's fine: I'm a good Catholic woman and would cheerfully accept an "off-limits" sanctuary on those sort of fine theological grounds. Oh, but wait--it's not off-limits completely. Women are allowed there to clean, because we can't have "quasi-sacerdotas" doing that sort of humble work. But ladies really should never be there otherwise, because as non "quasi-sacerdotas" it is unseemly for them to enter the sanctuary to do anything but clean it.

Either the men are the only ones allowed up there and will cheerfully clean it as well as serving at the altar while we women, who do plenty of cleaning and cooking elsewhere and can always volunteer our housekeeping skills at the rectory to help Father out as an act of service to the Lord, instead, keep to our proper place away from the sanctuary, OR women are allowed in the sanctuary to clean and decorate and so may also take other roles which lay people are permitted by Church law to take. Currently, the Church seems to be taking the latter view, doesn't she?

And I still say that the problem, if there is one, is that there are too many lay people (men and women generally) in the sanctuary when in ages past men who were priests or deacons or men actively working toward ordination were pretty much the only ones up there, except for a handful of Catholic schoolboys who acted as altar servers--a role initially designed NOT as a vocations magnet, but because the server's job was to make the responses on the part of the congregation, most of whom did not read, could not hear most of what was going on (no microphones), and thus could not audibly respond to the sacred action (though, of course, as Father Z says, none of that matters because at Mass Father isn't talking to you). But somebody had to say the proper responses, somebody close enough to hear them and acting in the person and on behalf of all the laity assembled--and that somebody was usually a group of well-trained young men, for the excellent reason that back then men and women weren't even allowed to sit or stand together on the same side of the church, let alone be seen together on the altar.

Catherine Laboure said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this.

I served the altar for eight years as an altar girl and have been discerning the religious life for three.

Just wanted to let everyone know that altar serving promotes vocations to both the priesthood and religious life. Of course, if the Pope said it had to be all male, I wouldn't complain. But currently, since he hasn't said anything about it, I'm going to continue to serve as a Eucharistic minister, lector, musician, and RCIA sponsor until I enter the convent in four years.

Tony said...

Red wrote:
Tony, the perception that there is "worthy" work and "unworthy" work comes from men, primarily, not from women (not even from all feminists).

Actually, Red, I have to say that this is bass-ackward. The whole women's ordination movement (where a lot of this pushback is coming from) is "power" oriented. Nobody is supposed to enter an ordained vocation for the "power". But the feminists consider altar service as power, and cleaning the altar and washing the linens as "powerless".

As far as I know, there is no restriction of men cleaning the altar. And your assertion that the "men can do their own laundry" is an incorrect passive-aggressive response. There is a difference between the sanctuary during the holy sacrifice of the mass and off hours.

And claiming that altar boys weren't on a vocation track is incorrect also. They were originally called "acolytes" (which was originally a minor order right below subdeacon). It is the first discernment a young boy has regarding a vocation to the priesthood (or permanent diaconate).

Do you see why this is a problem? To me, it sends a very mixed message: women can't enter the sanctuary because they are not sacred, set apart to God's service, and potentially priests.

This isn't the point at all. The point is role. The body of Christ needs head, hands, feet, heart, and yes, an anus. ;) Your problem appears to be with gender based roles. But I'm a victim of gender based roles also. No matter how much I might want to be a mother, I never can. And if I pretend, it looks silly.

When you walk through a field and come across a fence, should you tear it down if you don't know what it is for? No. You should only tear it down if you know the purpose and do it with an open mind ready to accept the consequences of your actions.

The "spirit" if Vatican II tore down the wall (and quite literally with regard to altar rails). We're seeing the detriment that these "innovations" have cost us.

The Catholic Church is not a democracy (nor should it be). It should be leading the world, not following its trends.

Tony said...


Which order are you planning to enter (and don't stop your ministries after your vows :))

Red Cardigan said...

Tony, all due respect, but I have never said that women should be priests, or that serving at the altar is some sort of act of power. You should see the trouble the average parish has just to get people to show up to do anything! Our poor altar server coordinator finally went to a policy of "grabbing whichever trained servers come in on a given Sunday" because Sunday sports schedules kept ruining his elegantly crafted monthly schedules for alter service. (And that problem--Sunday sports games being much more important than Mass--will definitely be solved by going back to all-male altar servers, because everyone knows boys hate organized sports and rarely sign up. Not.)

I'm one of those Catholic women who will defend the all-male priesthood to the hilt, if necessary. I never want there to be women priests; I agree with the Church in her wisdom on this for deep theological reasons as well as reasons involving ancient tradition and so on. But the Church herself has opened up service at the altar to women--not merely letting them in the sanctuary to clean, but to act as servers and lectors and EMHCs.

You can dislike all of this, or call it a misguided act of appeasement to the zeitgeist, or insist that it was all done illegally and the Church forced to condone it, or whatever you like to say--but it is, after all, the Church who allows it! One would think she would have some wisdom in doing so.

But here's where I keep shaking my head: I just don't get how the male-only sanctuary, today, after years of CHURCH allowed, permitted, and encouraged female service in the roles I mentioned, is suddenly going to make the average Catholic see in LAY men a mysterious and ancient and moving sign of the male Catholic priesthood. Restrict the altar to only ordained men, if you like; or restrict it to only ordained men and altar boys and instituted acolytes or lectors, etc., if you like (and by you, I of course mean the Church, who is the only one qualified to make the decision). But to permit tons of lay men to approach the altar while telling the women they may only set foot in the sanctuary to clean it is not going to cause some sort of spiritual "light bulb" moment in which everyone suddenly and dramatically grasps the vocation crises and hoards of single men rush out to their nearest seminary to answer a call they would otherwise have totally ignored.

What is more likely is that the women will obediently (or, let's face it, some of them angrily because there are *some* women like that, just not all of us) quit, and the men will drift away too, and the paradise of Father doing everything in the sanctuary alone (assisted by a couple of boys, perhaps, if the sports schedules permit) will be realized--until priests like my pastor who have five Masses to say alone between Saturday night and Sunday morning start having nervous breakdowns from the sudden doubling or tripling of their Sunday Mass responsibilities.

Red Cardigan said...

Catherine, thank you so much for your comment--and I wish you the best in your pursuit of your vocation! God bless.

Tony said...


I think you're forgetting that the organized sports that the boys enjoy playing (at the ages they're usually altar servers) are rarely (if ever) co-ed.

I have never said that I dislike women readers. I dislike EMHCs of any gender. I feel they are unnecessary. However, altar servers should remain boys. And the church currently allows, and can at some point disallow any current discipline she wishes.

If you look at trends, the more touchy-feely the service is, the less men attend it. You're seeing this more in protestant churches. And we all know women do the lion's share of volunteering. Maybe we should do like one priest did with his altar servers. He "encouraged the boys and allowed the girls".

Once something becomes a masculine activity, more men will want to attend. What we've done since Vatican II isn't working. Maybe it's time to try something new instead of more of the same.

Tony said...

Heh, I should have added (or rather, something old) :)

Bathilda said...

I rarely wish to look to the Evangelicals for guidance, but they have MASSIVE congregations and the Men are HEAVILY involved. In prayer groups, everything. I don't know about cleaning the church, but they probably pay for people to do that. (as does our parish--except for the laundry) They also have a virtual army of youth who gather on Wednesday evenings for youth group. My city has a large, private "Christian" school. NOT catholic. you probably would have a hard time getting into it as a Catholic, as you have to write your personal "testimony" in order to get your kid into the school...
but I digress. How come they get tons of people to come to their extracirricular stuff, and catholics can barely scrape up 10 retireees for a bible study? Their services are PLENTY "touchy feely", and men go. Tony, I don't know, I think it's a Catholic Men problem. Women really do get the shaft, and if you don't believe that, you need to open your eyes. Our old priest actually told mothers that we were to blame for the vocations crisis! He said that mothers don't promote the priesthood enough. What about Fathers? I would presume that the pressure boys feel from other boys and Men to "be a man" read: be a sexual being--keeps more men from the priesthood than what anyone's mother ever said. There needs to be a study of teen boys asking them about priesthood. honestly. I would wager that the single biggest issue keeping people from even considering it is celebacy. Not girls at the alter. If priests could marry, we wouldn't have to have any other discussions about the shortage of priests. this whole deacon thing to me smacks of cheating. Some of the deacons I have seen are men in their 60's, they made a fortune in their glory days, got a few kids through college, and now, along with their wife, they get to do everything but the magic. I would think that is a deal breaker too. Maybe young men are thinking...well, I love God and I love the Church, but I want to "live" awhile, there's always time later to serve...

Sorry for the lengthy post. this just gets me ticked. My daughter will take her server training soon. I told her about that diocese disallowing girls to serve. She was confused, and then very defensive... She's 11 and loves her faith. Will the treatment of girls and women send her away from the church in time? probably.