Question from Gwen on 3/19/2008:
Hi Father, Would you please tell me what is the official current teaching of the Church regarding altar girls? I've read things that said Pope John Paul II said girls can't be servers and then I've read he said in the case of emergency they could, and then I've read it was up to the local bishops. I just want the ultimate yes or no answer. Is there one?
At my parish, the priest asked my girls to serve because it truly is an emergency. We belong to an extremely small parish and there are no boys to serve. The parishoners are mainly the elderly. There is only 1 other family I know of with one boy and he serves on the Sunday Mass. I have explained to the girls they are serving only because it is an emergency situation and why I believe the altar servers should be boys, etc. They love to serve Jesus in the way they are. But, if this is not allowed nor recommended by the Church, then I want to stop.
Thank you so much for your time! May God bless you always.
Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 3/20/2008:
Dear Gwen, The Church officially allows altar girls. The local pastor must approve of this practice, higher tolerance is already given. Notice in the broadcast Roman liturgies, g irls are not serving at the altar.Mother Church dreams of boys at the altar eventually thinking and pursuing the Priesthood. Our precious little girls we don't wish to experience this same goal (which will never be realized!)Their role in the Church is elsewhere and desparately needed, strong women, women of profound Faith fighting for Christ in an increasingly hostile arena of social injustice, education, family life, politics. Let your little girls serve but remind them their God-given role is not at the foot of the altar but at the foot of the Cross in a rapidly changing world. God bless your concern. Fr. Bob Levis