Here's another bang my head on my desk decision from our 'traditional' friends in Phoenix AZ. Oh, and we are to believe Admiral Olmstead had nothing to do with this decision affecting his Flag Ship. Interesting how Phoenix Catholic girls can attend the United States Naval Academy, but not serve Mass for Admiral Olmstead. The following is Michael Sean Winter's take on this decision as posted yesterday in the National Catholic Reporter.
No Altar Girls at Phoenix CathedralBy Michael Sean Winters - National Catholic Reporter - 8/22/2011
The rector of the Cathedral of Sts. Simon and Jude in Phoenix has decided to only allow boys to be altar servers at Mass. The Rev. John Lankeit said the decision was his alone, not that of Bishop Thomas Olmsted. Lankeit cited the historic connection between altar boys and vocations. (Notice Fr Lankeit states 'historic' connection, not present connection.)
The decision is regrettable from every angle. There may be an historic connection between boys being altar servers and some of those boys going on to be priests. Hard to tell. There was also an historical connection between maleness and, say, the American founding. There was, until recently, a connection between being male and running for President. The rector may not have noticed but women do lots of things they did not do previously and it is a misplaced concern for gender differentiation to want to hold on to yesteryear's ways.
The decision also runs the risk of bringing back the "boys club" mentality that has caused great damage to the Church. Altar servers bond. While other boys and girls sleep in or play soccer on a Sunday morning, they get together to help out at Mass. Restricting that activity by gender helps create the wrong kind of gender differentiation, the kind that leads adolescents to grow up to be uncomfortable with women in Church, but any future pastor will likely rely on women to run all sorts of activities in his parish. Boys who are uncomfortable around girls will be inclined to see being an altar boy as a chance to escape their uncomfortability. I would submit that this is not necessarily a good thing to discern, still less to cultivate, in future clerics.(I sort of disagree with Michael's take. Boys will grow up uncomfortable with women in any meaningful role in the Church, as opposed to society. I suspect the uncomfortableness with women in the church in ways other than the pews is the whole idea behind this move.)
But, there is a deeper concern. Those altar girls who are now barred are baptized. Serving as an altar boy does not have to do with holy orders - and it never has. Yes, in seminary, future priests were installed officially as acolytes and as lectors, but most parishes never had officially installed acolytes. Rev. Lankeit has focused on the wrong sacrament in this decision. One wonders if he has even read the documents of Vatican II which place such a heavy emphasis on the dignity of the baptized.
Bishop Olmsted has not been shy about making controversial decisions. And, generally, most of us think that allowing pastors more say in their parishes is a good thing: micro-managing bishops can be a disaster. But, this is not just any parish. Officially, Olmsted is the pastor of this parish. He should step in and overturn the decision. (Oh wow, Michael what are you smoking?)
Catholics can surely expect more and more of this kind of thing. It is so tiresome. It is so frustrating. It is so junior high. Last night I read this 'professional assesment' of SNAP's National Convention from Bill Donohue. Towards the end he takes on Richard Sipe and Tom Doyle for their professional analysis that one of the major underlying causes of the clerical sexual abuse crisis is the pscho sexual immaturity in the clergy and it's encultured narcissism. Ya think? Apparently Bill Donohue doesn't think. It's a fascinating read in it's own way because Bill takes on seemingly everyone who has ever had a negative word to say about the sexual abuse crisis or 'Holy Mother' church. The idea that some of that negativity might actually be truth is beyond Bill.
I just love how "holy mother" church has no room or place for her daughters except to prepare and clean all the sacred spaces reserved to her exalted sons. That is what girls will get to do in Phoenix. They will be allowed to function as sacristans who prepare the altar area before Mass.
I started this out by referencing Olmstead as an Admiral. I did this for a purpose. The Libyan campaign is now drawing to a successful conclusion, as least in terms of the military component. Our US Air Forces were under the command of Major General Margaret Woodward. A woman. A woman who ironically is a graduate of Arizona State University. We Catholic women are being asked to believe that Margaret Woodward is capable of commanding in a theatre of war, but not serve at Olmstead's Masses. Excuse me?
Here is what her fellow commanding officers think of General Woodward:
“Her success in a male-dominated world comes because she is a smart operator,” said Dunn, who served at the Pentagon when Woodward worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “She understands air power, and her forte is she gets along with people -- the human element of command can be one that’s difficult for some to master.”
Maybe it's time pseudo Admiral Olmstead called on General Woodward for some advice on how to deal with the 'human element of command'. After all General Woodward's campaign resulted in exactly zero US casualties and the objective was completed in six months. Oh and lest I forget, the alliance which made this success possible was part and parcel of our Foreign service effort led by another woman, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton.
Women military and world leaders? Yes. Altar girls? No. This disconnect between women in the Church and women in society is a huge huge disconnect. It is a gap which will only get wider and wider unless the psycho sexually developed men in the Church start raising their voices and put the immature male in his place.