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On Girl Altar Servers In Any Capacity

QUESTIONS:

To: Most Rev. Augustin Mayer, Pro-Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship
From: Rev. James P. Collins, Pastor

1. The Inaestimabile Donum of April 3, 1980, #18, what is the precise meaning of “altar servers”? Does it mean taxative the altar servers who minister the cruets of wine and water to the priest or deacon at the altar at the offertory of the Mass?

2. The Appendix to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the dioceses of the United States stated in article 66: “With the exception of service at the altar itself, women may be admitted to the exercise of other liturgical ministries.” In view of the prescription #18 of Inaestimabile Donum, and in view of the above article 66 of the Appendix to the General Instruction, may women carry the miter (miter-bearer), the cross (cross-bearer), the candles (acolytes), or incense (thurifer or one carrying the censer and/or thurible) on the basis that the just mentioned offices do not involve “service at the altar itself”?

ANSWERS:

"Congregatio Pro Cultu Divino
Port. CD 1874/84

Dear Father Collins,

Thank you for your letter in which you raised several points in relation to the Instruction Inaestimabile Donum. It would appear that directives given in this Instruction are quite clear and it is a matter of surprise that you should have presented them in the way in which you did.

1. Number 18 of Inaestimabile Donum states “Women are not permitted to act as altar servers”; this does not just mean the task of ministering the cruets, but all the functions of the altar server.

2. Following from the above observations it follows that girls are not to carry the cross, act as miter bearers or thurifer ... With every best wish, I am,

Yours sincerely in Christ

† Virgilio Noe, Titular Archbishop of Voncaria 
Secretary"