The National Catholic Distorter reports on a recent gathering of altar servers with Pope Benedict in Rome, pointing out — as only they can do — that the number of “altar girls” this year outnumbered the number of altar boys.

Of course, the NCRD trumpets this as a sign of the uncontrollable eruption of women in the Church, and makes much of the fact that the Holy Father seems to approve of “altar girls.” Of course, within the last few years Rome nearly listed “altar girls” on a list of liturgical abuses, so I doubt very much that Papa Benedict feels fine about this disturbing development.

I recall at my home parish the pastor introduced the liturgical “innovation” of “altar girls” back in the 1980s, well before John Paul II’s Holy See seemed to give the green light for this liturgical perversion. I promptly left that parish, seeing where all of this would lead. And today, Rome itself is giving an ambiguous message about “altar girls,” as Benedict seems to want it both ways: citing the practice as liturgical abuse but giving the impression that he is fine with it all the same.

And be not deceived. Serving at the Lord’s altar is not simply a ministry in and of itself. It is part of the hierarchical ordering of the Holy Orders of the Church. Altar boys are of course encouraged to discern the Roman Catholic Priesthood, the center of our Faith. The role of altar boy, like the Eucharist itself, is centered on and oriented to the Priesthood of Christ. Introducing young women into this well ordered hierarchy is deceitful, tricking young women into thinking they can have a part in this religious structure, and blaspheming the Lord’s Body and Holy Priesthood toward which our Faith moves. With “altar girls,” the entire edifice of our Faith — the male hierarchy — falls. And surrounding Benedict — the pinnacle of this male hierarchy — with so many women — as young as they may be — is surely not a good idea.

Contrary to the celebratory tone of the NCD blog post — and the apparent views of dissidents at the Vatican — altar girls represent one of the most pernicious developments in the post-Vatican II “Church,” jeopardizing the entire Faith under the liberal banner of “equality.” May women young and old come to know their place in the Church, and we pray that our Most Holy Father will be able to fight this atrocity as it spreads throughout the churches of the world.

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