About John Lilburne


2002 GIRM


Discouraging altar girls

There are lots of media reports today about a draft Vatican document to discourage altar girls, applause, etc. 

The 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal already discourages both altar girls and altar boys in favour of "altar men" (i.e. instituted acolytes). 

"100. In the absence of an instituted acolyte, lay ministers may be deputed to serve at the altar and assist the priest and the deacon ..."

On the question of communion under both kinds it gives wider latitude for this:

"283. ... The Diocesan Bishop is also given the faculty to permit Communion under both kinds whenever it may seem appropriate to the priest to whom, as its own shepherd, a community has been entrusted, provided that the faithful have been well instructed and there is no danger of profanation of the Sacrament or of the rite's becoming difficult because of the large number of participants or some other reason. ..."

Its interesting to note that the draft document has:

"Every Catholic has a right to report liturgical abuses or raise questions about liturgical practice with his or her bishop. Those who complain about liturgical abuses are to be treated with respect." (according to Cindy Wooden)

In my case many of the questions about liturgical practice are often those of my bishop. The terminology "treated with respect" is similar to that used for instituted lectors:

"The reader's ministry, which is conferred through a liturgical rite, must be held in respect." (General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, n 51)

Hopefully more respect will be given both to instituted lectors and to those who complain about liturgical abuses.

By J.R. Lilburne, 24 September 2003. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain. 

Other sites:


Cindy Wooden at www.catholicnews.com

news.google.com "altar girls"