Rorate Caeli

Archdiocese of Manila: Only young boys can be altar servers

I have just received a copy of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales' Without Sunday We Cannot Live: A Pastoral Letter on the Sunday Celebration of the Eucharist. The letter is signed June 14, but is being disseminated only now.
I still have to thoroughly study the pastoral letter (36 pages long), and for now I would like to refrain from commenting on it, except to note that it is totally silent on both the Forma Extraordinaria and the modest "reform of the reform" that Pope Benedict XVI is promoting by his example (no surprise there). However, the letter does have at least one bit of very good news, and it can be found in no. 28. page 17:
Altar Servers
28. From antiquity, the altars (sic) servers have exercised their ministry within the assembly and they have helped to enhance the quality of the celebration by taking part in processions and by ensuring that all the requisites for the celebration are available at the appropriate time. (GIRM, 100)
  • It is a proven fact that many ordained ministers developed their vocation to the priesthood because of their membership in this ministry when they were young. We therefore wish to continue the practice of reserving this ministry to young boys, in order to introduce them to the life and ministry of the Church. (Redemptionis Sacramentum)
Female altar servers are becoming more and more common in Philippine parishes, although not yet to the same extent as in the West. It remains to be seen whether this directive from Cardinal Rosales will be strictly implemented in all the parishes of Manila, but it is encouraging to see that, at least, he has decreed this.


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Adult men can't be altar servers?

Michael R.

Anonymous said...

Now if only the Pope would ban altar girls.

It is something that never should have been allowed in the first place.

Pedro said...


I wonder if our bishops could add "see it so under pain of our extreme displeasure" at the end of their decrees, like King Caspian. It certainly would make them more forceful and authoritative.

New Catholic said...

First anon: newcatholic AT gmail DOT com

Long-Skirts said...

Thank God!!!!!!!!!!


Today five sons
Served on the altar
Determined boys
Who would not falter.

Boys at home
Who fight and shove
But on the altar
Assist with love.

At home shouting
From top of lung
On the altar
Latin’s sung.

At home running
Can’t sit still
On the altar
Disciplined will.

At home throwing
Cereal, toast
On the altar
Adoring Host.

At home bedrooms
Scattered scene
On the altar
Order serene.

I proud mother
Faithful to Rome
Five sons on the altar
Five men at home.

Matthew said...

I did hear that a theologian who advised JPII that the 1983 Canon Law could be interpreted as allowing for female servers later acknowledged that he was wrong. But the damage was done.

I suspect it's unrealistic to expect our current Holy Father to tackle this issue alongside all the other problems he has to deal with, problems which might have a greater, longer-term, relative significance eg the SSPX issue and disobedient bishops. There are already those who speak of the current papacy as a spent force!

Let us pray for our Holy Father that he will have the strength and courage to deal with the most serious of problems facing the Church, leaving his successor to deal with those of lesser, though perhaps lower relative importance.

I might add that I comment as one wholly opposed to the use of female servers and one who has seen the damage done by their introduction. I simply feel that there might be problems of a greater magnitude that the Holy Father has to tackle; I do not underestimate or minimise the female server issue.

Richard Friend said...

I have some comments -

"The homily is done at the ambo or the chair but not at the altar or the nave of the church." [Page 12]

This is a real problem in the Philippines. Many priests choose to say the homily from the altar instead of from the chair or ambo.

"Proper vestments should at all times be worn in keeping with the liturgical norms. Liturgical vesture signifies the sacredness and dignity of the celebration in which Christ and his paschal mystery are at hand." [Page 13]

The archbishop of Manila should lead by example by vesting appropriately during and outside of liturgical functions in vestments befitting a cardinal archbishop. Exhorting priests to vest properly rings hallow when the local ordinary himself violates his own rule.

"The collection of money and other gifts are deposited in a suitable place but away from the Eucharistic table. (GIRM 73)" [Page 27]

In many parishes in Manila, baskets containing the collections are placed under the altar. This is still being done.

"The proper gesture for the Lord’s Prayer is raised hands." [Page 28]

Unless the Archdiocese of Manila has asked for and received an indult from Rome to institute this practice, the orans position, this provision is illicit. In Rome, Romans can licitly raise their hands in the orans position during the Pater Noster because of an indult from the Holy See. I may be wrong, but I don't think there is such an indult for Manila.

"The manner of receiving communion, whether by hand or in the mouth, is the prerogative of the communicant.(RS 90)" [Page 29]

This provision flies in the face of the archbishop's directive to all priests to distribute Commnunion only in the hand. At least Cardinal Rosales got this right. But he should withdraw his controversial directive mandating Communion in the hand only.

"Announcements should not interrupt the period of silence after communion. Novenas and other devotions and the collections should not be done during this time." [Page 30]

"Announcements are done after the post Communion Prayer. (GIRM 184)" [Page 30]

Again, this is a prevalent practice in Manila. I blame lack of adequate instruction in the seminary.

There is not one word about the use of Latin or Gregorian chant in the liturgy. There are many referces to "extraordinary," but not in reference to the extraordinary form of the Mass, but to extrordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

I give the document a C grade. The archbishop could have written a better document that comprehensively addresses the many
liturgical problems besetting the archdiocese, but he chooses to ignore them.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

"Adult men can't be altar servers?"

I don't think that is the intention; however, in Manila and in the Philippines in general, adults and boys / girls above the ages of 15-16 almost never act as altar servers except in seminaries, liturgical services presided over by bishops, and in EF Masses (which in the Philippines, are normally served by young adult males).

If a young man above the age of 16-18 wishes to serve at Mass, he is normally directed to become either an "Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion" (who are exttremely numerous in the Philippines) or a lector / commentator.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

It's a step in the right direction. As far as the Pope banning altar girls, I've yet to see Pope Benedict XVI use altar girls...I do believe for the diocese of Rome they've been banned.