Women Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion


NOVEMBER 2011/JULY 2013/10 JULY 2014


Women Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion


One who follows the pope is an authentic Catholic. One who doesn’t is a dissenter and is
busy trying to construct a new Catholic Church” – Dr. Richard Geraghty, EWTN Experts Forum


Note: In this letter I may occasionally use bold print, italics, or word underlining for emphasis. This will be my personal emphasis and not that of the source that I am quoting.



My sister is 100% devoted to visionaries with end times messages* and uses these messages to criticize women in ministry, and uses these messages over and above Holy Church teachings and doctrine to make all of life’s decisions… She is very critical of me and other women ministering Holy Communion as Extra-ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. She says that no one may touch the Eucharist except for a priest. Pat



She is in error on these issues. Our Lord gave the first pope, Peter, and subsequent popes, authority to make laws and rules to govern Holy Church. “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”

First, girls and women are permitted to serve at the altar. “Girls or women may also be admitted to this service of the altar, at the discretion of the diocesan Bishop and in observance of the established norms.”

“In addition to the ordinary ministers (bishops, priests and deacons) there is the formally instituted acolyte, who by virtue of his institution is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion even outside the celebration of Mass. If, moreover, reasons of real necessity prompt it, another lay member of Christ’s faithful may also be delegated by the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the norm of law, for one occasion or for a specified time, and an appropriate formula of blessing may be used for the occasion. Finally, in special cases of an unforeseen nature, permission can be given for a single occasion by the Priest who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist.”

“In the absence of an instituted acolyte, lay ministers may be deputed to serve at the altar and assist the priest and deacon; they may carry the cross, the candles, the thurible, the bread, the wine, and the water, and they may also be deputed to distribute Holy Communion as extraordinary ministers. In the absence of an instituted lector, other laypersons may be commissioned to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture.”

Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector during liturgical actions by temporary deputation; likewise all lay persons can fulfill the functions of commentator or cantor or other functions, in accord with the norm of law. When the necessity of the Church warrants it and when ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply for certain of their offices, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside over liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion in accord with the prescriptions of law.”


This report prepared on May 5, 2007 by Ronald Smith, 11701 Maplewood Road, Chardon, Ohio 44024-8482, E-mail: hfministry@roadrunner.com. Readers may copy and distribute this report as desired to anyone as long as the content is not altered and it is copied in its entirety. In this little ministry I do free Catholic and occult related research and answer your questions. Questions are answered in this format with detailed footnotes on all quotes. If you have a question(s), please submit it to this landmail or e-mail address. Answers are usually forthcoming within one week.


… Let us recover by penance what we have lost by sin …








Women Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion


July 21, 2012

I was informed yesterday that my sisters are unhappy that I became an extraordinary Eucharistic minister. Our parish priest specifically asked me to do so and so I did. My sisters maintain that women should never do so, and also stated that girls should never be altar servers. What is correct? –Kristin

I applaud you for using the correct term, “extraordinary”. Many do not use that adjective and thus pretend they are “ordinary” ministers of the communion. As the title implies, the position is suppose to be used only in temporary situations in which there are not enough priests, deacons, or installed acolytes (a formal kind of extraordinary minister) are available. I will talk more about that later.

The use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMC) are seriously abused in this country (U.S.). For some, they think that it is a “right” to be an EMC. No one has to “right” to be any kind of officer in the Church, even a deacon, a Priest, or a bishop. No one has a right to be an EMC. Some people think that being a EMC (which is an extraordinary position) is the way to participate in the Mass. It is not. The proper and “ordinary” place for the laity to assist at Mass is in the pews.

With that said, when EMCs are used, women can serve in that position. The reason that women can serve at the altar is because of a loophole in Canon Law. Here is the pertinent Canon Law:

Can.  910 §1 The ordinary minister of Holy Communion is a bishop, presbyter, or deacon.

§2. The extraordinary minister of Holy Communion is an acolyte or another member of the Christian faithful designated according to the norm of can. 230, §3

Can. 230 §1 Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte.

Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.

§2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.

§3. When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside offer liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion, according to the prescripts of the law.

The phrases I put in bold are the operative words, the loopholes. Women are lay persons, thus, technically, these Canon Laws do permit women (and girls) to serve at the altar, despite 2000 years of tradition and practice.

The Pope could close this loophole, like he has done on other issues, but he didn’t. I think the reason he did not close the loophole was that there is nothing about serving at the altar that is fundamentally requires males, technically. But, I think that the major reason the Pope did not close the loophole because the he has to choose his battles. If he had closed this loophole there would would been a cry of outrage so loud that could be heard all the way to Mars from the biggest bunch of babies on the planet — Americans.

Americans have always been a royal pain to the Popes because the United States was born and exists today as a liberal society and liberals are big babies and have tantrums when they do not get their way. The Pope, like any father, cannot invest himself in every battle his immature children come up with, he must choose his battles.

America is a Protestant culture, a Protestant culture is a Liberal culture. Even if one is a conservative Protestant or a conservative nothing, he is still in living within the Liberal worldview, the worldview in which the individual becomes the only source of truth. This allows for Protestantism, which more than 32,000 denominations, to all think they have the truth, even though they contradict each other. There is no objective authority; authority is the self. For more detailed information on this, listen to my Chronicles of Catholic Commentary program, The Protestant Dilemma

The way it is supposed to work is that the ordinary ministers of communion (bishops, priest, and deacons) are to perform the offices of the Mass (deacons serving at the altar). Then, if there are not enough priests and deacons to do this, Installed Officers (installed Acolytes and Lectors) do the job of serving at the alter and reading. Only if there are not enough Installed Officers are we to even begin to think of the laity from the pew.

The problem for the big babies of America is the installed offices of Acolyte and Lector are reserved to men. Thus, in my opinion, since most bishops haven’t the guts to appoint sufficient numbers of Installed Officers, the ordinary laity from the pews fulfills this function. That opens the door for woman and girls serving at the altar and also reading.

It is important to note that allowing women and girls to serve at the altar is permitted, but is not a mandated. No priest must have altar girls. It is their choice. There is one diocese, I think, in which the Bishop has prohibited the practice of woman and girls at the altar for his entire diocese.

The offices of the Mass have been served by men for 2000 years (and by tradition to include boys as a recruitment facility for the priesthood. It is only this canonical loophole that allows women and girls to serve at the altar today.



Even with that loophole, Pope John Paul II said that the tradition of altar boys should be given respect and priority.

I personally think that it is unwise to allow this loophole to exist, but I am not the one sitting in the Chair of Peter, thus I do not have the Pope’s perspective. I would say, that if I were a priest, as long as I am allowed the decision, I would never allow women to serve at the altar or to read. That is properly the job of Acolyte and Lector, to which if the bishop did not appointed men to these installed offices, I would informally depute only men to those positions.

As a Catholic I respect and obey the Pope’s decisions. Thus, neither I nor anyone else may disrespect or disparage those priests who use female servers, or the female servers themselves. It is allowed. This does not mean that a woman asked to be an EMC must accept the invitation. St. Paul said that just because something is allowed, does not automatically make it beneficial or prudent.

But, as mentioned, it is allowed, and thus women can freely accept this position according to their own conscience, and the rest of us need to support her in this honor.

Your sisters are wrong and out-of-line to not support you. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM



August 18, 2012

I recently read your response concerning women serving as Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers and lectors, and girls as altar servers at Mass. You stated that you would forbid this practice if you could. With all due respect, I cannot believe that our Lord would condemn women serving His Church in these capacities. In both the Old and New Testaments, there are a significant number of women who served in leadership positions. I am an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister in my wonderful, orthodox Catholic Church. At daily Mass, where the women greatly outnumber the men, there would be no one to assist Father if I were not there. I have a strong faith in and connection to Jesus, and I cannot believe that He is looking with disfavor on those of us women who are assisting our over-burdened priests. –Olivia

Neither I nor the Church has any bias toward women.

The first mention of liturgical offices restricted to men is by St. Paul in the Bible in (1 Cor 14:33b-35):

As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

Since this is the Word of God, it is infallible teaching that comes from God. Are you calling God biased against women?

For 2000 years the liturgical offices (celebrant, deacon, acolyte, and Lector) have always been restricted to men. And these offices are still restricted to men today. God has ordained that liturgical offices be under the direction, leadership, and practice of men. This is part of the paterfamilias (father head of the family) economy of God. This is God’s way of doing things and we have no authority or power to contradict God on this.

Thus, the Church maintains the liturgical offices for men only and always will. That will never change.

Because of shortages of qualified men to fill these offices, the Church allows extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) who are not installed (in the office of acolyte, which is reserved to men), to serve in this function. Same with Readers (Lector is an installed office reserved to men. Anyone not installed in this office is properly called a “Reader.”)

When these exceptions to the rule are applied, it does not imply that the use of non-installed extraordinary ministers are “ordinary.” No one has a right to be an EMHC. The EMHC should not be an expectation among the parishioners. EMHCs are not designed to be the “way the laity participates in the Mass.” The proper place for the laity to participate in the Mass is from the Pew. This has not and will never change.

The only reason women are allowed to serve at the altar is because of a canonical loophole that the Pope decided not to close. He could have closed that loophole, but he didn’t.

The fact that this was a loophole to allow women to serve at the altar, and that this loophole is not mandated to any bishop or priest, shows us that this is an extraordinary form, not an ordinary one. The norm is for men only to serve at the altar (and boys as a recruitment for the priesthood, which Pope John Paul II said was to be a tradition that is respected). This is the 2000 year tradition.

Non-installed EMHCs, regardless of gender, should not be used as if they are ordinary. Those are meant to be used, according to Church law, in extraordinary circumstances only, and not on a permanent basis.

Many parishes are using EMHCs as if they are normal, even when circumstances are not extraordinary. Thus, the Faithful have come to think of EMHCs has a stable possibility for lay participation. It is not.

Now with all this said, the Pope did allow the loophole, thus I must respect that and not disparage any bishop or priest who uses women or girls at the alter, or disparate those women and girls who choose to volunteer for that function.




In like manner, those bishops or priests who do not allow women/girls to serve are not to be disparaged and called names. This also applies to people like me who say that if I were a priest that I would not allow it. Bishops and Priest are fully within their rights to disallow it or to allow it.

Thus, you need to submit to the Church, get over your bias, and stop calling people biased because they accept God’s paterfamilias economy, and the original intentions of liturgical offices, but fully accept Church’s regulations. You are within your rights under Church Law to volunteer for EMHC. I am also within my rights under Church law, if I were a priest, to not use women or girls at the altar.

Any name-calling on either side of this issue is the sin of uncharity at the very least.
–Bro. Ignatius Mary OMSM


Benedict XVI and the “Tridentine” question


By Rev. Fr. Thomas M. Kocik, StAR, May/June 2007

For more than a year now, it has been rumored that Pope Benedict XVI intends to give carte blanche permission for the celebration of the pre-Vatican II form of Mass (referred to by many as the “Tridentine” or “classical” Roman liturgy), alongside the present-day rite. Such an initiative, whatever form it may take, would have immediate and long-term benefits to the Church, though it would also have its difficulties. My purpose in this essay is to consider those potential benefits while taking into account the relevant theoretical and pastoral issues that are undoubtedly on the pontiff’s mind…

[T]he Council opened the door for the use of vernacular languages while decreeing that the faithful should be able to sing certain parts of the Mass in Latin. Yet by 1970, just a short time after the Council ended, there were very few parishes offering Mass in Latin. Much has changed since then: the minor orders and subdiaconate were abolished, Communion in the hand was restored (after a millennium of desuetude), laypersons now routinely administer Communion (despite their status as extraordinary ministers), and females may now be altar servers. Many of these changes are the result of papal concessions to the liturgical “progressives” (often working in seminaries or on the liturgical commissions of various episcopal conferences) who actively undermined the official restriction or prohibition of these practices. These concessions, let it be said frankly, betrayed those who had obeyed the norms, shattering any confidence on their part that the Church knows her own mind where liturgical discipline is concerned. Much of what has been done to the liturgy in the name of “reform” has undermined a good deal of Catholic doctrine concerning the Real Presence, the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the ministerial priesthood, and the role of the laity. No Catholic who appreciates the bond between what the Church believes (lex credendi) and how the Church worships (lex orandi) can be insensitive to the current state of affairs. […] All too often, Catholics who prefer the classical rite are treated like lepers by ecclesiastical officials, despite John Paul II’s acknowledgment, in his 1988 apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei, of their “rightful aspirations”. Indult Masses are routinely scheduled at times and places intended to discourage their attendance. More painfully, it is not uncommon for bishops to appoint unsympathetic priests to offer the traditional Mass, bringing their disdain for liturgical formality and strict rubric with them, and berating the congregation for their unwillingness to “get with it”. Some bishops, insistent on pouring new wine into old wineskins, make their permission for the classical rite contingent upon the use of girl altar servers or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.



9 JULY 2014




Categories: Liturgical Abuses

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