Banning girls from the altar is quickly becoming an epidemic in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. In the past few months, Fr. John Lankeit of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, Ariz., and Fr. Michael Taylor of Corpus Christi Catholic Mission in South Riding, Va., have prohibited girls from serving on the altar in their parishes.
In 1994, the Roman Catholic Church officially permitted female altar servers. There is no restriction in Canon Law for women to help at the altar during the liturgy. However, in fear that the girls may one day aspire to the priesthood, a growing number of priests are barring girls from serving in their churches.
Women comprise at least 80 per cent of church lay ministers, and they are the backbone of most parishes around the world. Denying young girls leadership roles in the Church is an early lesson in discrimination that the Catholic Church cannot afford to teach.
We, the following, call for an end to the disgraceful backlash and prohibition of altar girls in our communities and churches. We remind church leaders that women and girls are created equal by God, and the refusal to permit girls from serving on the altar is nothing more than the manifestation of sexism within our church.