I imagine this news will stir up some debate around the diocese:
Made up primarily of fifth- through eighth-graders the altar-server corps in American churches has included girls since 1983 in many places. Girls and boys regularly serve together at churches throughout the Phoenix Catholic Diocese.
Bishops and pastors always have had the option of restricting the role to boys, but only one diocese, Lincoln, Neb., and scattered parishes have done so. Before 1983, when church law was revised, girls were not allowed to serve.
At SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, the girls will be offered the role of sacristan, the person who prepares the church and the altar area before Mass.
Lankeit said 80 to 95 percent of priests served as altar boys, but he could not state the percentage of altar servers who go on to be priests.
He made the decision on his own, he said, even though the cathedral is recognized as the home church of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and is used for some important church events.
“He leaves these decisions to me,” Lankeit said.
SS. Simon and Jude is believed to be the first church in the diocese of Phoenix to ban girls from serving Mass, according to the diocese.