Girls Should Not Be “Altar Servers” – Crisis Magazine


1994, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued a letter officially specifying that it is licit for females to serve the altar in the role that has traditionally been known as “altar boy.” Bishops were not bound to permit the practice, and a 2001 follow-up specified that pastors may also choose to reserve altar service …

Source: Girls Should Not Be “Altar Servers” – Crisis Magazine

Once again, this is from a specifically Roman Catholic perspective, but it has relevance because the specific Anglican jurisdiction to which I belong — like most orthodox Anglican jurisdictions, and all Continuing Anglican ones — does not ordain women to the priesthood. The author, who is female, and the mother of four boys, discusses the connections in some depth in the article, and I do not want to steal her thunder be rehashing them here.

What I will say is this: it has been statistically demonstrated (as pointed out in this article) that boys are less likely to want to serve at the altar if they must do so “co-educationally,” thus reducing the kind and level of exposure to the liturgy which tends to breed future vocations. It also appears that men are less likely to attend church when leaders of worship (or those perceived as taking a leadership role, which would included altar servers) are female.

And a lack of paternal participation in regular worship has in turn been statistically linked to reduced church attendance by both male and female children when they reach adulthood. Are girls as altar servers thus a contributing factor to reduced church attendance overall? That might be saying a bit more than I personally would feel comfortable with, but the idea does not seem to be entirely without merit. In any case, read the article — the author, Dr. Rachel Lu, makes some excellent points!

Author: The Anglophilic Anglican

I am an ordained Anglican clergyman, published writer, former op-ed columnist, and experienced outdoor and informal educator. I am also a traditionalist: religiously, philosophically, politically, and socially. I seek to do my bit to promote and restore the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, in a world which has too-often lost touch with all three, and to help re-weave the connections between God, Nature, and humankind which our techno-industrial civilization has strained and broken.

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