08Jun Ban on altar girls – from the Catholic Herald

Vatican: girls are not permitted to serve at old Mass

By Rachel Obordo on Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Vatican: girls are not permitted to serve at old MassAltar servers kneel during Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome (CNS photo)

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has clarified that girls are not allowed to serve at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

It made clear that the Instruction on Summorum Pontificum, Universae Ecclesiae, does not permit female altar servers at the older Mass.

Universae Ecclesiae states “the Moto Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the Sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962″. Permission for female altar servers came with the Circular Letter of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments of 1994. However, the rubrics of the 1962 Missal did not allow for females on the sanctuary during Mass.

The letter, signed by Mgr Guido Pozzo, Secretary of Ecclesia Dei, said that “permitting female altar servers does not apply to the Extraordinary Form”.

Fr Alban McCoy, university chaplain at Cambridge, has celebrated the Extraordinary Form with female altar servers. He said he did not seek to include women in his team of servers but “decided not to refuse the request of two young women to serve in the old form”.

His team includes six boys and four girls. “We have one team of servers for all Masses – Ordinary and Extraordinary; one rite of liturgy, one set of servers.”

A spokesman for the Latin Mass Society said the clarification was “significant” and that all bishops should practice in accordance with what has been stated in the letter.

8 Responses

  1. Eddie Finnegan

    What! Not even Vestal Virgins?

  2. Sharon

    You’ve got to respect tradition, the liturgical law of the Church, and the sensibilities of other Catholics. This is a good result. You can have altar girls in the N.O. but not in the EF.

  3. Martin

    The thing is, the use of altar girls is the politicisation of the Mass. Men and women, boys and girls are different. There is something odd about a girl in a cassock I think. The folks who brought in altar girls wanted a nice reminder in the sanctuary – one day, one day…

    Meanwhile, the poor girls are taken advantage of to prove a political point. What about their feelings and their futile hopes and desires, that, maybe, one day, they can be like Father? Cruel.

    What this instruction is doing is respecting the constant tradition and the rights of the faithful who want the Latin Mass. I think there is enough licence in the new Mass.

  4. Máire

    Bishop Gene Lolium


    With regard to the Instruction which you have received from Ecclesia Dei pertaining to acolytes assisting at the forma extraordinaria masses in your church or chapel:

    In my episcopal capacity as your diocesan prelate, I commend to you the following responses.

    In the event that a female asks you to allow her to serve at the altar during celebrations of the Latin mass,

    1) Under no circumstances are you to tell any female applicant that her sex bars her from assisting at holy mass celebrated in any form.

    2) Inform such an applicant in a manner that evinces respect for her equal worth in the eyes of God that, as a matter of principle, you do not have any altar servers when you celebrate the Latin mass.

    Of course, you must ensure that your response #2 is truthful. If you have hitherto allowed young men to serve at the altar during EF masses, you must cease that practice immediately once you have told a young woman that you have no altar servers during EF, and you must so inform all servers in your church.

    In this, as in all matters of liturgy, we must follow the papal commission’s instructions faithfully, carefully, in the Spirit as well as the Logos. If any difficulty in compliance presents itself, please feel free to discuss it with me.

    Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.

    Yours in Christ,

  5. Joe O'Leary

    “licence in the New Mass” — what a Scroogy comment — more creativity and joy is what is needed.

  6. Benny

    Martin said: “There is something odd about a girl in a cassock I think.”

    Surely it is the men/boys in this dress who are the oddities.

    Upsidedown world?

  7. Sean Dowling

    Where is Bishop GL from and could his letter be used here?

  8. Mary Burke

    Bishop Gene Lolium is not a Roman Catholic bishop.