A full moon was seen this week and there’s no doubt about it.  This week alone these stories emerged:

Bill Donahue of the Catholic League said that the Parisian Terrorists were provoked by Charlie Hebdo. And that the Muslims have a right to be angry.

Fr. George Rutler, long a champion of the Catholic right, said that Deacons shouldn’t preach.

And finally, the biggest cranky pants of all of them, Cardinal Raymond Burke, blamed the vocation shortage on altar girls–which is an old note, but he’s gotten the most attention for it.

Some thoughts on all three:

Bill Donahue’s comment is one of the most anti-Catholic comments I’ve ever witnessed. Our religion never allows violence to be an appropriate response to violence. He did point out that violence can never be appropriate, he at least leaned towards saying that retribution here was somewhat justified.  I can understand what he meant, in saying that cartoonists shouldn’t make fun of an entire religion based on a select few that do horrendous things and maybe even that profaning the Prophet Muhammad is disrespectful, at minimum . But saying that Charlie provoked people is just not compassionate in any way, as if anyone deserves death.

Fr. Rutler’s comments about diaconal preaching are some of the most clerical comments I have ever heard.

“While Church law permits deacons to preach by exception during the Liturgy, diaconal preaching is essentially non-liturgical and catechetical.  As a deacon, St. Francis would never preach in the presence of a priest.”

Glad to know that he knows the mind of Francis.  And Deacon Greg has pointed out many flaws in his misnomer of canon law.

And lastly, Cardinal Burke, blames the presence of altar girls, for the shortage of vocations, or at minimum the shortage of priests.

Here’s the pull quote to end all pull quotes:

“Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural. The girls were also very good at altar service. So many boys drifted away over time.”

Um, as a former young boy, I had plenty of female friends and we played together often and it didn’t seem unnatural at all. Then there is the incredibly stupid comment where he blames the girls for being TOO GOOD at serving at the altar. I want to say, “Maybe if the boys upped there game at serving, the girls wouldn’t show them up.”

Now look, I was an altar boy and it was in fact, a formative experience for me.  It was more like a youth ministry for boys; a society where we didn’t just serve at the altar, but we had a Saturday recreational program, an annual trip to Six Flags’ Great Adventure, full days of reflection and retreat and a bunch of other activities.  Girls would not have damaged that experience. I could see where there might be times when we would want to separate the two sexes for a variety of activities outside of the altar serving and maybe offering something that the girls might have been interested in, that perhaps the boys were not.

Kerry Weber had some good thoughts on her own experience as an Altar server in America Magazine this week as well.

I did at times feel “important” while serving on the altar. But most days I simply felt grateful to be part of something more important than myself. I was humbled every time I held the book aloft to be read, carried the unconsecrated hosts to the altar so they could be transformed, poured out the water that washed the priest’s hands, rang the bells at the consecration. I grew in my faith as I learned about and participated in the many small, sacred actions that surrounded and celebrated this banquet.

Amen, Kerry.  Altar serving needs not be restricted because of gender.  We have four acolytes at Canisius, two men and two women and they equally are wonderful and prayerful students who provide a needed service at the altar. They make me proud and are amongst my favorite students and have taught me a thing to two as well.

So, here’s my word of advice to all three of these men.  Keep talking, folks.  It’s the best thing you can do for progressive Catholics because now they’ll know that you’re nuts!

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1 Comment

  1. “now they’ll know that you’re nuts!”
    Wow. That’s like–really rude. In fact, it’s worse: you don’t agree with someone, perhaps don’t even understand them, so they’re “nuts”.
    Is that called being “progressive”?

    A couple thoughts:
    1) Charlie Hebdo was puerile and inflammatory. It’s not surprising it got people mad. I haven’t heard any non-Muslims defend the killers, but are you seriously saying that Bill Donaghue was wrong? That they weren’t “provoked”? Even the pope said as much.
    2) Preaching by deacons. A lot of deacons can preach better than a lot of priests. A lot of lay people can preach better than a lot of deacons. I guess there’s a rule that priests are supposed to do the preaching. That rule can be changed. In my book the only thing a priest can do that I can’t, as a layperson.
    3) “Um, as a former young boy, I had plenty of female friends and we played together often and it didn’t seem unnatural at all.” As a former altar boy myself, and a father to both boys and girls, your experience strikes me as unusual. It’s normal for children to segregate themselves by sex. That’s what Burke was talking about.
    I had the experience of being an altar boy when the mass changed from a simplified vernacular but nonetheless basically Tridentine rite to the Bugnini-Montini rite we’re still stuck with today. From the altar server perspective–wow, what a change. One Sunday we were important participants, saying the Confiteor (the real Confiteor, not the saintless one we have today) on behalf of the people, the next week we were standing around like gooseberries with nothing to do. I think a lot of vocations grew out of serving the old mass; the Novus Ordo, not a chance. I suspect that’s also something Burke was alluding to.


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