Recently, The Advocate published an article concerning a claim a highly placed cardinal made that the shortage of priests was due to the proliferation of female altar girls.

This seems to be the latest in the church’s opposition to clerical marriage. The cardinal in question has been demoted to a lower position. The claim smells strongly of misogyny. The cardinal claims the drop in clerical vocations is due to young girls who act as altar girls. He states that being an altar boy is a “boy’s thing.”

Too bad the cardinal does not look at the facts. The decline in priestly vocations is not due to girls serving as altar girls, but due to the question of a married clergy. The ban on married clergy in the Catholic Church is due to the fact that priests and nuns cannot marry. Barring clerical marriage in not a formal prohibition of church law, but rather custom. In spite of married priests many centuries ago, and even if some of the apostles were married, the Catholic Church insists upon a celibate clerical life.

I think that if the clergy were allowed to marry, their numbers would increase greatly; in fact, I suspect that they would rush to the altar and then perform their priestly duties. Sorry, Cardinal Burke, don’t blame the girls for the decline in priestly vocation, blame the church for ignoring reality.

Joseph V. Ricapito

retired educator

Baton Rouge