Saturday, 31 May 2008

More on altar girls

So that we are call prepared for when the altar girl issue comes up next, as it inevitably will, canonist Fr Steven Fisher has prepared a useful summary of the state of Church law on the subject:

The short version, in his view, is that:

  • it is permitted for lay women to be admitted to service at the altar (even in the extraordinary form), if the bishop permits it;
  • but no one (male or female) has a right to serve at the altar; and
  • no priest can be forced to admit females to serve at the altar.

One point he makes that might be worth exploring is that a bishop could prohibit females from being admitted to service at the altar at the Extraordinary Form of Mass (by tempering his permission to serve at the altar to be just at the ordinary form) if he so wished as, of course, could the Holy See. I can see a campaign coming on...

It is worth reading the whole thing though, as it contains some fascinating material. I didn't know, for example, that the 1917 Code of Canon Law explicitly allowed women to make the responses 'from afar' in the absence of a man, provided that they did not approach the altar.

And while we are on curious innovations, ladies, if you were about to rush out and get yourself 'ordained' - or you are a bishop planning on simulating an ordination - be aware that doing so now means automatic excommunication:

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