The rector of the cathedral in Phoenix has disallowed girl altar servers on the grounds that this will lead to an increase in vocations to the priesthood. Fortunately, he’s also encouraging girls to be nuns by letting them be sacristans, taking care of the “stuff” of the liturgy in a much more traditional female role (i.e., setting the table, doing the dishes and taking care of the washing and ironing).
Some of those in favor of only male altar servers make the argument that once girls are allowed to be “altar boys” then boys will no longer want to volunteer for this ministry on the grounds that it makes the church too “feminine” (unlike, say, wearing a lacy cassock!).
If boys aren’t altar servers, the argument goes, they won’t be inspired to grow up to be priests. Is this because what’s most appealing about being an altar boy (or a priest) is that it’s a “no-girls-allowed” club? This argument comes dangerously close to suggesting that the appeal of special privileges (and power) is a good thing.
All of which leads me to wonder whether the solution to the shortage of vocations to the priesthood lies in the belief of preadolescent boys that girls have cooties or are otherwise “icky.”
Isn’t it about time we grow up?
Credit: (CNS photo/Matthew Barrick)