Thirty Pieces of Silver
Indult Mass for Altar Girls

Kenneth J. Wolfe

( Alexandria, Va. The Diocese of Arlington has been a strange place for several years.  The young priests lean conservative, but there has never been an "indult" Mass.  The altar servers are male at parishes, but the area is home to the wackiest looking churches imaginable.  Some of that is about to change.

On March 21st, the commemoration of Saint Benedict, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde announced female altar boys would be permitted under any circumstance by pastors.  As predicted by traditionalists in this region, the flip side of the coin or piece of silver is a limited indult Mass in two locations.

On the one hand, this is terrible news.  The traditional Latin Mass has become a bargaining chip for modernism elsewhere.  On the other hand, this could actually be good news.  The happy neo-Catholics who have been living in a pretend world of pseudo-conservative liturgies now have to make a decision.  Do they allow little Suzy to prance around the plush carpet near the Table, or do they flee their parish for one of the two new indults?

Nevertheless, the news brought more comedy than comity to the faithful.  In the diocesan newspaper articles posted the afternoon of the announcement, the same chancery official who chanted the praises of the traditional Mass justified the need for female altar boys at the novus ordo service.

"'The sun rises in the east and Christ, the Son of God, is also compared in Scripture to the Sun of Justice.  The direction of prayer turns us to the light that comes from the Lord,' said Father Paul deLadurantaye, Secretary for Religious Education and the Sacred Liturgy. 'All things should be oriented to Christ.'"

What a beautiful justification of the direction a priest faces during his Sacrifice of the Mass.  But now we flip the page of the Arlington Catholic Herald.

"Father Paul deLadurantaye, director of the Office of Sacred Liturgy, said he doesn't believe allowing women to be altar servers will diminish vocations to the priesthood.  Echoing the bishop's words, Father deLadurantaye said, 'Young girls could also be helped to discern a call to religious life.'"

Huh?  Talk about Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde.  Or maybe he thinks female altar boys should face east.

Girl altar boys have been allowed in rare cases in the Diocese of Arlington since 1994.  Then-Bishop John Keating gave permission for them to act in the role at universities, convents, nursing homes, retreat houses, hospitals and homes.  The new policy gives a pastor the power to decide if the lady acolytes strike his fancy at parishes and high schools.  Those who claim this discretion will simply make the practice safe, legal and rare ought to think about the fact that similar policies exist for lectors and extraordinary ministers in novus ordo land.

The announcements are not all doom and gloom.  Honestly, two more traditional Latin Masses in addition to the independent Masses bravely offered at Saint Athanasius church in Vienna, Va. is a good thing, not to mention spreading out the standing-room-only crowd at Saint Mary's in Washington, D.C.  The Mass on the western end of Northern Virginia will be at Saint John the Baptist church in Front Royal, a traditionally designed church, although partially wreck-o-vated.  The other Mass, however, will be at Saint Lawrence church in Franconia one of the most hideous-looking buildings in all of Christendom.

A call to Soren Johnson, director of communications for the Diocese of Arlington, was not returned by press time.  (A trick with good public relations professionals is to toss the grenade and run.)  But perhaps Mister Johnson can let Remnant readers know why the good-and-evil announcements were made together in a move better suited for a politician than a shepherd.

As Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre found out, be careful what you wish for modern hierarchy just may give it to you while punching you in the gut.