Reactions to 'No Girl Servers' in Phoenix story

by Dennis Coday

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I noted this story -- Phoenix diocese cathedral won't allow girl altar servers, Altar duties called part of priesthood prep -- in the Morning Briefing today and Michael Sean Winters commented on it (No Altar Girls at Phoenix Cathedral).

Here is what the Women's Ordination Conference has to say:

Women's Ordination Conference Decries Ban on Altar Girls in Phoenix Diocese

Contact: Erin Saiz Hanna, 202 675-1006,

WASHINGTON, DC - August 22, 2011 - Girls will no longer be allowed to serve as altar servers during Mass at the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, SS. Simon and Jude. In response, Women's Ordination Conference has issued an action alert calling on the Diocese to immediately reinstate female altar servers in that parish.

"If young women in the Phoenix diocese want to grow up to work for the Church - or even aspire to the priesthood - I, and the vast majority of U.S. Catholics, don't see the harm in that, said Erin Saiz Hanna, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference. "Around the country, young women have been lawfully serving at the altar for well over a decade."

Reportedly, Rev. Lankeit banned girls from the altar because he wants only boys to prepare for priesthood in this way. Since 1994, the Vatican and the U.S. Bishops have allowed female altar servers. There is no restriction in Canon Law for women to help at the altar during the liturgy.

"This is not only disgraceful, it is impractical. Women comprise at least 80 per cent of church lay ministers, and they are backbone of most parishes around the world," continued Hanna.

"The Vatican's stance on the ordination of women is based on arguments that have been refuted time and again. In 1976, the Vatican's own Pontifical Biblical Commission determined that there is no scriptural reason to prohibit women's ordination. Jesus included women as full and equal partners in his ministry, and the hierarchy would do well to follow suit," Hanna concluded.

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