John Lilburne's journal discussing the 27 July 2001 letter on altar servers from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Concerns are raised about the lack of attention to instituted acolytes.
1129 L Sat 16 Mar 2002
I am concerned about parts of the letter on female alter servers published last year. (Notitiae 2001, pages 397-399, the letter is dated 27 July 2001 and signed by Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez and Monsignor Mario Marini).
I think it is worth trying to clarify the laws regarding instituted acolytes.
A part that concerns me is in bold:
An instituted acolyte is one of the non-ordained faithful. He has the right and duty of service at the altar. As Pope Paul VI wrote in Ministeria quaedam:
It is true that according to Canon 228.1
However once admitted to the Office of Acolyte, they then have rights and duties that go with that office.
The reference to Ecclesiae de mysterio, no. 4, does not seem applicable in this case:
Service at the altar is not the ministry of a cleric, it is the ministry of an instituted acolyte. So it is not "collaboration with the sacred ministry of cleric" or "collaboration in ... pastoral ministry" it is the acolyte's ministry. In the case of altar servers "when ministers are not available" means "when instituted acolytes are not available."
I thought the 2000 Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani covered this well:
Another concern I have with the letter is that is seems to give preference to using boys rather than men. The conference of bishops determines the age at which a man can be instituted as an acolyte (Ministeria quaedam, VIII b). However they are men, rather than boys. So I think the letter undermines the ministry of acolyte with things like:
The impression given is "use boys rather than men". The message bishops are likely to receive is: "Do not institute acolytes." This is contary to the message "use acolytes, not boys" in (to name a few Church documents) Ministeria quaedam, CIC 230, the 1975 Roman Missal, the 2000 IGMR, and CCC 903. Rather than providing clarification, I am worried that the letter will cause confusion.
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 16 March 2002.