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Permitting girls to serve at the altar marked the end of a form of inequality in the church and allowed girls to experience the formative power of directly assisting with the mystery of the Eucharist—said the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano in an article on Aug. 7. “The exclusion of girls...has always weighed heavily and represented a deep inequality within Catholic education,” it said. Even though there may have been many parishioners who accepted the presence of girls as servers only when there were no boys to fill the role, “overcoming this barrier was very important for young women.” Pope Benedict XVI met with more than 53,000 altar servers from Europe during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Aug. 4. Organizers said most of the young pilgrims were female.

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