News leaks that the Vatican is giving its approval for the use of female altar servers during mass, emphasizing that the gender of altar services is a pastoral question rather than a doctrinal question (as is the case with female priests).
Bishop Anthony Bosco of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, says:
"I have seen an illogic in the fact that women could be eucharistic ministers and lectors, which are far more important liturgical roles, but not altar servers."
Not everyone agrees with this move, however. Cecile Hecker, a member of the St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin parish in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, writes to the Vatican asking that the ban on female altar servers be kept in place:
"Because it is a training ground for a vocation in the priesthood, it is a good idea to maintain that for boys only. This is a disappointment. But the Holy Father has spoken on this and of course as a practicing Catholic will go along with whatever Pope John Paul II has to say."
In 2010, essayist Lucetta Scaraffia will write in L'Osservatore Romano about a gathering of more than 50,000 young altar servers in Rome with Pope Benedict XVI:
"Being an altar server was always understood as a service but, at the same time, as a privilege, because it leads one into the heart of the liturgical celebration, in the space of the altar, to direct contact with the Eucharist.
The exclusion of girls from all this, for the sole reason of belonging to the female sex, has always weighed heavily and signified a profound inequality within Catholic education, which fortunately has been cancelled by now for several decades.
Even if perhaps many pastors have been resigned to altar girls only in the absence of available boys, for young women overcoming this barrier was very important, and in fact that's how it's been understood: the presence of a female majority at the tenth gathering of 'ministrants' which recently took place in the presence of the pope demonstrates it.
For girls, entering into the space of the altar has meant the end of any attribution of impurity to their sex, it's meant the possibility of living this formative experience of extraordinary importance in religious education, and it's meant a different kind of attention to the liturgy as well as coming closer to the faith by drawing near to its very heart."