Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lucia Secular blasphemy in Australia

Secular blasphemy: Where the secular world seeks to define what it considers to be articles of faith, and people reject those beliefs. In this case, girls should be able to do anything boys can when it comes to the Catholic Mass.

The Story:

Altar servers in recent times in Catholic Masses have been allowed to be girls. This has created in many parishes, a reluctance by boys to altar serve as it's seen to be a girly activity. I have sons who altar serve and it's only been since we've moved to a parish Mass that has a tradition of mostly male servers that they wanted to altar serve.

Now, when the new Catholic Archbishop in Tasmania, Julian Porteous, is seeking to reverse the trend back to boys only past primary school age, the state government considers that turning away teenage girls from altar service at Catholic Masses might be discriminatory and therefore potentially not allowed.

"Altar servers, generally speaking, are primary school age, around that age, and so there's always been a tradition of having altar boys around that age and so girls can also be at that age," he said.

"When you move into high school I think it's more appropriate that we have men, young men who are serving on the altar."

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference says there's no national policy on altar servers.

But Tasmania's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner is suggesting the Archbishop's position on women as alter servers may not comply with the Act.

Robin Banks says there is an exception to the Act that allows religious institutions to discriminate based on gender but it may not apply in this case.

"There's a defence that says a religious institution can discriminate on the basis of gender if it's required by the doctrines of the religion," Ms Banks said.

"It gets down to the question of is it consistent with the doctrines of the religion to exclude people on the basis of gender. If it's not then the exception wouldn't apply."

Altar service is part of the way for boys and young men to discern whether or not they might have a vocation to the priesthood. A male only priesthood is consistent with the doctrines of Catholicism, and so is the Bishop's prerogative as to whether or not he allows female servers. If the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner tries to take on the Catholic Church on this issue, she'll have a fight on her hands, which she will lose.

Related link: New Archbishop says no to women in altar role ~ Australian Broadcasting Corporation

3 comment(s):

Paul Baylis said...

Yes, this is indeed a controversial area. Our parish priest recently allowed girls to serve at the altar. I have noticed a distinct difference between the way the girls serve vs the way the boys serve. Generally, the girls look awkward and out of place, they look like they don't really want to be there. I see them looking regularly towards their parents in the congregation. The boys, however, look more purposeful and, I hate to say it, more competent. I don't know, but even without the controversy, it just seems wrong at a basic level for girls to be up there.

bamac said...

In our Parish when we first began to have altar girls , it seemed to be the mothers of the girls who were eagerly pushing for it more than the girls themselves
Since those earlier days we have had a couple of changes of Parish Priests .. now we once more seem to have a strong number of boys serving ... some of them older boys too which is good to see.
In Tasmania there have been middle aged women serving in some places which surely is a no-no.... no wonder the good bishop wanted to change things back. God Bless his efforts.

Mrs Mac

Lucia Maria said...

Hi Paul and Mrs Mac,

Thanks for your comments.

We used to have a very competent university aged server at the Mass my boys attended. It was her hair that used to bug me, it seemed .. wrong. Funny how the little things can be distracting.

Anyway, since she left, there was one girl who might have been mid-teens who served for one Mass. Her parents seemed really proud and the parish priest looked to be enjoying telling everyone about her service and congratulating them all afterwards. She never came back. Don't know what happened.

I think the more formal Masses make girls feel even more out of place, but I don't know for sure.

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