NEWTON, Mass., Nov. 23, 2011 – Young girls have been prohibited from serving Mass by the pastor of Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church in the Diocese of Arlington, Va.
In 2006, even as he relinquished a long-standing practice that excluded girls from altar service, Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde authorized diocesan priests to continue to exclude them. The result today is that 60 percent of the Arlington diocese’s parishes have no girl altar servers. A recent decision by Corpus Christi pastor Rev. Michael Taylor to revoke the practice of girl altar servers sparked angry outcries from moms, dads, grandparents and others who see the injustice in Gospel terms, not in the legalisms of Catholic Canon Law to which the bishop and priests cling to in order to support their practices.
Nearly 70 parishioners gathered outside the Arlington chancery this past Sunday, Nov. 20, to protest against excluding girls from altar service. Voice of the Faithful, the worldwide Catholic Church reform movement, supports these lay Catholics and encourages lay Catholics everywhere to stand similarly against Catholic hierarchy who betray Gospel teachings.
“Restricting altar service to boys contradicts Jesus’s core teachings and perpetuates a dysfunctional clerical culture in the Church,” says VOTF trustee Bill Casey of Alexandria, Va.
VOTF recently defined clericalism as the pattern of behavior in which clergy view themselves as different, separate and exempt from the norms, rules and consequences that apply to everyone else in society.
“In light of this clericalism,” Casey says, “the practice of excluding girls from altar service counters scripture. Jesus persistently directed his teachings and healings to the interests of the marginalized groups in the society of his day. He preached a kingdom of God without privilege, rank or entitlement—a message aimed squarely at the religious leaders who taught and behaved quite to the contrary.”
Similar controversies over girl altar servers have occurred elsewhere, for example, in Phoenix, Ariz., and Lincoln, Neb.
Voice of the Faithful
Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and shape structural change within the Church. More information is at http://www.votf.org.
Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360, 617-291-3495 Cell