November 22, 2011

Regarding the Nov. 20 Metro article “A question of equal rites”:

As a lifelong Catholic, I’ve always applauded change within the church when it contributed to the renewal of our faith. When the Vatican approved in 1994 the rights of young girls to help serve at Mass, this was more than welcomed by the majority of Catholics. I see nothing that contradicts Catholic teaching and Catholic faith when a young female helps the priest celebrate the word of God. Rather than advancing the church’s focus, the Rev. Michael Taylor is turning back the hands of time for our faith by announcing that girls can no longer train to be altar servers at Corpus Christi Church in South Riding.

I’m old-school, traditional Catholic, and I believe that only men should serve as priests. But perhaps serving as altar girls may encourage these young ladies to become nuns. Bravo to Jennifer Zickel and her daughters Natalie and Emily for standing up for their beliefs and for promoting equality within the church.

Nick Wineriter, Rockville

●I am a 32-year-old, independent female with a full-time job and two master’s degrees. I am certainly pro-woman in terms of equal rights and individual dignity for women.

I, too, had questions about why only men could be priests in my church and why priests could not marry. It wasn’t until I recently asked questions of my parish leaders and conducted independent research into my faith that I began to more fully understand the layered symbolism behind why the Catholic Church needs men to act as parish leaders. As a result, I now feel an incredibly deeper connection to my faith.

I pray that those who are unhappy with church practices do the same kind of questioning and self-discovery of their faith before crusading for an “equality” that would be sorely misdirected.

Carolyn Anders, Alexandria

●As an instructor at a parochial middle school for nine years, I taught many young men — including my three sons — who were altar servers for several years. To my knowledge, none of those students became priests. During that same time, the young women in the eighth grade who asked the bishop why they could not serve were told that, because serving was “the first step toward ordination,” they were ineligible.

At a recent reunion, some of those same students were delighted to hear that “their old teacher” is a female altar server. My hope for them and their daughters is that, if they are called to this ministry, their church will be open enough to allow them that opportunity, remembering that “there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

Ann Glennon, Alexandria