Les Femmes Readers Respond to Bishop Loverde’s Altar Girl Decision

Many thanks for all your good work on behalf of authentic Catholics! Doesn't this seem odd? Young men serve as altar boys and we pray they will aspire to the priesthood. It's the whole purpose of training our male youth in reverence for the altar of God and the priesthood.

Women will NEVER be ordained priests, per John Paul II and reaffirmed by Benedict XVI. Isn't it a dirty trick to put young girls in an environment where their activities will be preparation for frustrated aspirations? Moreover, how will the current altar boys feel about girls in the sacristy with them. Don't little pubescent girls get flirty?

Latin Mass is GREAT news! But doesn't it seem like it's being offered to placate us into accepting girls on the altar? Who's writing the rules about hairdo, makeup, nose rings, etc? Isn't putting girls on the altar of God asking for LOTS of troubles?

Lynn Bateman
Alexandria, VA

When Bp. Loverde launched his $75 million capital campaign, I said that once the campaign was over and the pledges were all fulfilled he would announce that the diocese was now allowing girls to serve at the altar during Mass. Sadly, my prediction was correct. Many years ago [a priest in the diocese] was telling me about the meeting Bishop Keating called with all his priests. He asked how many of the assembled were altar boys. Almost all raised their hands. Bp. Keating then asked how many believed that having been an altar boy was a factor in discerning their call to the priesthood. Again, almost all raised their hands. Seeing this, Bp Keating wisely said, "Then I see no reason for altar girls" or words to that effect. He clearly saw the link from altar boy to priest; and wisely, I believe, maintained the long-standing tradition.

Let us continue to pray for Bp Loverde. He is constantly urging families to pray that God call one of their children to the priesthood and religious life…. Sadly, he has just taken away one of the primary means God has used over the centuries to issue that call. I, for one, am reluctant to allow my youngest boys to become altar boys if they are going to have to do so with girls. From my perspective, the female presence will impinge upon the all-male priest-server bond that is formed before, during and after Mass.

Thomas Minarik
Catharpin, VA

A priest I knew a long time ago had been appointed as a low-on-the-totem-pole assistant pastor in a parish that already had altar girls. He had neither the seniority to simply abolish them, nor the heart to say, “No, girls, just scram, go away, begone!” So his diplomatic, sensitive-to-feelings, yet effective strategy was: 1) to make sure the boys wore traditional cassock and surplice while the girls covered their hair with veils like nuns and wore modest, simple long dresses; plus 2) he gave them distinctly different roles. As I remember it, the girls came out BEFORE Mass, put the altar cloth on the altar, lit the candles, and arranged the sacramental items on the credenza. Typically feminine: like daughters setting the table, like Jewish mothers lighting Sabbath candles. Then the girls withdrew from the scene altogether and stood with the choir. Then the boys came out and did the Mass-server thing. After Mass, the girls came out and led the rosary. The point was a deliberate re-emphasis on separate masculine and feminine roles. And that struck just the right chord in my humble opinion.

It’s like harmonious music: everybody can sing, but everybody should sing the part that’s suited to them: Female sopranos! Male basses! And, for God’s sake, no castrati!

Julianne Wiley
Johnson City, TN

I always thought that Bishop Loverde would throw the Tridentine Mass bone out there to mute the criticism when he finally approved altar girls. If he really was sincere about taking a balanced approach, he would offer the Tridentine Mass in every parish, just like he is now allowing altar girls in every parish. P.D. Via e-mail

When Bishop Loverde was installed as Bishop of Arlington he visited several churches. At St. Andrew the apostle in Clifton I knelt and kissed his ring as a sign of respect for his office and asked him to provide the Traditional Mass in the Diocese…. My request and subsequent telephone requests over the following years were ignored. Meanwhile our family attended the Traditional Mass at St. Mary’s in Washington, D.C…. every Sunday since 1991.

In 2004 our son was to be married and again I requested a Mass, just one Mass….Our request was again refused with no explanation. From 2004 to 2005 I wrote letters requesting the Traditional Mass…starting with documenting my verbal communications in June 2001. The responses to our requests demonstrated the resistance to having this Mass along with the stonewalling techniques: “Bishop Loverde is in the final phase of the preparation for the liturgical option” (September 27, 2004), “The delay in the announcement of this liturgical celebration is due to some unforeseen complications in the final details. These issues are expected to be resolved soon.” (January 29, 2005), “In reference to the announcement, there has been no precise date for the announcement.” (February 22, 2005). It is appalling that the abuse of having girl altar boys is so readily provided, when the Traditional Mass was suppressed and is now only stingily granted by Bishop Loverde.

Madeline Jordan
St. Louis, MO

The letter from Bp. Loverde to Margaret McBride [Refers to letter addressed to a parishioner at Our Lady Queen of Peace March 15, 2004 where the bishop stressed his desire for altar girls.] answered a question I had many years ago. Did Bishop Loverde implement female alter servers throughout our diocese (Ogdensburg) when he came here?

Initially, because some parishes had already implemented altar girls (in direct disobedience), I was unsure if Loverde was the culpable bishop for the breach. He openly admits in his letter to Ms. McBride that he did indeed implement female altar girls throughout our diocese. We are praying for you.

D.M Ogdensburg, NY

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