WOULD someone with a voice in Vatican liturgical circles please convey to the reverend gentlemen concerned that while we greatly value the solid liturgical work that they have done and from which we have all benefited — there are many of us who are embarrassed, not to say annoyed, at the totally foolish and inconsistent official attitude to girls serving at the altar.
Are the hierarchies of the world with all their combined pastoral and scientific expertise not yet considered competent to deal with this worldshaking issue? I do realise that we men must keep women in their place as long as we possibly can and only grudgingly give way when we are absolutely forced to by the march of that awkward beast history. Nonetheless ...
John Ahrami Maidstone, .
I DO not count myself a feminist but I was shocked to read your headline, May 30, that women serving on the altar counted ilN a scandalous abuse of the Mass. Surely this is a scandalous' example of medieval chauvinism,
B. McDonald Greenford.
THE latest rules on the conduct of the mass, "Inaestimabile Donum" will leave the average parish unaffected, and might excite relatively little comment except in their treatment of women.
Irrespective of the view taken of it. the instruction is unfortunate in that it is more a product of the Sacred Congregation of the Faith, (a body composed of some thirty Cardinals and -Bishops from all over the world) than the work of their secretariat. i.e. the Curia in Rome.
Instead of obtaining the view of the Congregation the Curial officials seem to have short-circuited the consultation process laid down by Vatican II by obtaining the Holy Father's endorsement.
Such endorsement is unfortunate because debate is restricted, not least because some of those most affected feel constrained by their priestly vows of obedience.
The declared objective of the rules is to prevent scandal and abuse. Perhaps it will be sufficient to make two points.
First, communion in the hand — though not prohibited — is implicitly disapproved. and the provisions when applied to communion under both kinds (preventing the communicant front holding the chalice) are
impractical, and are likely to produce rather than prevent accidents.
Secondly, permission for communion under both kinds is to remain restricted. Why? Maybe there are practical difficulties in parishes, but the practice is not uncommon in special situations, for example in communities such as schools, and at house-masses. Is this not less scandalous than the 'rugby scrum' which occurs in St Peter's Basilica when Holy Communion is
the true point of these d rei
Perhaps s rules is to emphasise the importance of the priesthood and the religious Infer if sit it is surely misconceived, The Eucharist is a unifying force and not a means of creating it first and second class Catholicism. Priests are not set apart from the laity by such arbitrary rules, but by their vows, ordination and the giving of sacraments, and most of all by the consecration of the Host at Mass.
Vatican 11 has injected new life into the whole Church: this has occurred through and is reflected in new enthusiasm for the Mass. Are we to return to the "keep behind the altar rails: congregations should be seen and not heard" mentality? I venture to hope that each of our Bishops will do what the Curia has failed to do: reflect upon the desirability of each rule and on the possible harm done to a reverent and prayerful Mark by its enforcement. Nk Ti
I l IS to be hoped that the C. Herald's reporting (May 30th) of the 10-page Instruction sent to the Bishops — and approved by His Holiness Pope John Paul II — will not be construed hastily and perhaps ambiguously, or erroneously by people anxious, as we humans are want to do, to translate certain points to suit their own particular -axe". For instance, "Women — should not be altar servants" —. where women normally clean the Church, including the Sanctuary, the tillers, windows, statues, Credence table, tabernacle etc.. etc. (the list must be endless —) and care for, preserve, mend, arid make, the altar linen and vestments the word "server" should be more explicitly set out and defined. A "mass-server" is a title having quite a different meaning and is one which most women would, I think, accept as relating to a small (angelic?) boy in cassock and collaroarro
or, possibly Parish elder brother. Margaret Warwick sh ire,