Monday, October 3, 2011

See how America Magazine mis-represents Vatican II

In a post dated October 10th 2011 (it's only October 3rd as I write) entitled Save the Altar Girls, the editorial reports on the decision by the rector of Ss Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona to restrict serving at the altar to boys. This, of course, was always the Church's practice until a 1994 decision to permit girls to serve.

Now, the Second Vatican Council was concluded in 1965 and it made no mention of allowing girls to serve at Mass. Yet America Magazine writes:

These moves to limit laywomen’s access to the altar threaten to drag the church back into the pre-Vatican II world. One wonders if next the altar rail will return, another barrier between the priests and the people.

Where was the removal of altar rails mentioned in Vatican II? It wasn't.

This is a so-called "Spirit of Vatican II" article which bears no resemblance to the letter of the Council.

The editorial makes the following case:

The key issue is the status of the baptized: that the laity may be called by the Spirit to offer their talents in various roles. The rejection of altar girls disregards the counsel of the Second Vatican Council that the charisms of the baptized “are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation.” By virtue of baptism, the council reminds us, “there is neither male nor female. For you are all ‘one’ in Christ Jesus.” There is “a true equality between all with regard to the dignity and activity which is common to all the faithful in building up the Body of Christ” (“Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,” Nos. 12, 32).

But this argument could be used in support of a campaign for the admission of women to the ranks of the priesthood, yet this is clearly not possible. There is no distinction between male and female in terms of their equal dignity before God, but male and female not only have different physical attributes (only one can be father/husband and only the other mother/wife), they have distinct sacramental attributes to, signs of Christ as bridegroom and the Church as bride respectively.

Clearly America magazine is worried that the Phoenix decision might lead to a trend, and I think they are right to be worried as many of the innovations made over recent decades are being re-examined and rolled back. Whatever their views on girls and altar serving, they should not be invoking the spirit of Vatican II. Altar rails are making a come back too.

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