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The “Tablet”, Altar “Girls” And Women’s Oppression.

From Fr Ray Blake’s Blog (who in turn has it from another source) we read this interesting piece about the disgraceful “Tablet” censoring readers’ letters when they show that the people at the Tablet… write things insulting to women.

Now, I do understand that the Tablet has all the right to edit the letters it publishes. But in this case it is very interesting to read what has been edited, and why.

The letter is as follows: the part in red is the part that wasn’t published. The issue is the presence of altar “girls” (I only seem to come across old sanctimonious busybodies; it must be me) at the Tridentine Mass. 

As a woman who acts as a local representative in Arundel and Brighton of the Latin Mass Society, I find your claim (Leader, 18 June) that not allowing female altar servers at the Extraordinary Form insults me is quite absurd.

I challenge you to provide your readers with evidence for this bizarre claim that the tradition of male altar service has anything to do with “ritual uncleanliness” (sic). On the contrary, this tradition is quite obviously a reflection of the fact that only men can be ordained as priests, and it is because male service at the altar emphasises the different roles of the sexes in relation to the sacrifice of the Mass that it has special value. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass represents the preservation for future generations of this and many other venerable traditions, and it is for this reason described by Pope Benedict as a “treasure” for the whole Church.

Before you reject these traditions as ‘insulting’ you should reflect on the fact that they formed the basis of the liturgical life of women, as well as men, for countless centuries. Is it not more insulting to women to picture us as helpless and passive oppressed victims of a misogynistic Church for nineteen centuries? Give us a little more credit than that.

Annie Mackie-Savage
Eastbourne, East Sussex

The lady poses the (rhetorical) question brilliantly. Now, these are professional journalists. They can’t say, like a blogger could, “I don’t have time to deal with this now”, or “I prefer to do my research to write about my agenda, not about the writers’ one”. It is, I would say, their very job to expand and say some words about such an interesting question. The answer might, then, be more or less brilliant, but at least it would be an answer.

In this case, it is clear that the “Tablet” has no answer.


No Altar Girls For Tridentine Mass

No "altar girls" in sight.....

At the moment of going to …. sleep, this news reaches me from Father Z’s blog. As it pertains to an important news (and very dangerous development) possibly in the making here in England regarding the Tridentine Mass, this is very pertinent.

As you can read here, the Latin Mass Society mentions an article from the New Liturgical Movement published last August. This is a commentary on Summorum Pontificum from a German canon lawyer, Mr. Weishaupt (incidentally: “wise head” in German….) carrying a preface from cardinal Burke himself. The commentary is, therefore, endorsed by official Vatican authority.

On the matter of the altar girls, the commentary states that (emphases mine):

[…..]To answer these questions , the commentary correctly applies two general canonical principles.

The first principle requires that liturgical norms, which were in force in 1962, are to be diligently observed for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, for these norms protect the integrity of the Roman rite as contained in the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. The second principle states that the subsequent liturgical discipline is only to be introduced in the Extraordinary Form, if this discipline affects a right of the faithful, which follows directly from the sacrament of baptism and serves the eternal salvation of their souls.

The application of these two principles to the cases mentioned leads to the conclusion that neither the service at the altar by persons of the female sex nor the exercise of the lay ministries of lector or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion belong to the basic rights of the baptized. Therefore, these recent developments, out of respect for the integrity of the liturgical discipline as contained in the Missale Romanum of 1962, are not to be introduced into the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite.

This is clear enough, very well argued and, as already said, already provided with Cardinal Burke’s seal of approval. It is simply unthinkable that Cardinal Burke would have even thought of endorsing the work, if in disagreement with such basic applications as this.


1) no altar girls.

2) no lay lectors, and

3) no extraordinary ministers

Everything as in the good old times, and no contamination with suspicious practices, or with practices having their origins in liturgical abuses successively tolerated like the said altar girls.

This should ensure that the old ladies of the feminist persuasion steer well clear of the Tridentine Mass.

That the Tridentine can tolerate no communion in the hand and no communion in standing, had already been said here.

Better days ahead.


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