San Francisco parish takes step in right direction. Sky falls on pastor’s head.

UPDATE 29 Jan:

I had this note from a reader:

Check out how much the faithful have donated to support Fr. Illo in his decision for altar boys at Star of the Sea- $22K so far in 1 day! www.gofundme.com/kvc80g
God bless you!

_____ Originally published on: Jan 28, 2015 ____

In San Francisco, the new parish priest of Star of the Sea parish has decided to end service at the altar by girls in favor of exclusive service by boys.

In this he is to be praised.

However, right on schedule, the spittle-flecked nutty has begun. It started only by a couple disgruntled grousers. Then the press got it. Now pressure is on. HERE and HERE.

I have, as a gesture of support, sent Fr. Illo and the assistant some of my Z-Swag. You might drop them a line of support.

Let’s thank Archbp. Cordileone in advance for backing the priest.

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58 Responses to San Francisco parish takes step in right direction. Sky falls on pastor’s head.

  1. iPadre says:

    God bless the Archbishop.

    It’s interesting how the neo-cons are attacking the pastor for exorcising his rights to have male only servers in continuity with long standing tradition.

  2. APX says:

    I was under the impression priests didn’t need the bishop’s permission to only have altar boys? The fact that he went to his bishop and got support is telling.

    Anyone else notice they also have Mass in Latin on Sundays? $20 says it’s only a matter of time before there is Mass there in the EF.

  3. I attend Mass at this parish and heard Fr. Illo’s excellent homily, which he gave permission to post at https://fjdalessio.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/bravo-fr-joseph-illo-we-cannot-give-up-on-america.

    His homily has two parts. The first addresses the altar girl issue and the second addresses “the real story”
    Bravo, Fr. Joseph Illo: We cannot give up on America

  4. CrimsonCatholic says:

    Father, I don’t understand you neo-con statement, please explain.

    On the the subject of the blog post, good for Fr. Joseph Illo. The SFGate article is the better written of the two, and this only affects school masses. Apparently the outcry is coming from outside sources, and not from the parishioners Star of the Sea. It’s good to see priest have courage and stand up to the liberals. May God bless him and his parish.

  5. benedictgal says:

    Something else to note is that the priests who staff this parish are Oratorians! San Francisco certainly does not know how good they have it. First they have a very strong archbishop and now they have an equally strong Order whose main charism is liturgical renewal.

  6. AngelGuarded says:

    The media and its adherents using their favorite word again: ban. Altar girls are banned! Horrors, sounds so awful! Makes some shudder. Just like other things the lefties like to talk about as being banned. No, no, no, nothing is banned. Altar servers can only qaulify if they are male. Nothing is banned here. And another favorite tactic, interviewing teenagers. One felt insulted. Hey, kiddo, get used to it. Christ said we would be insulted. If you are truly interested in serving Christ and His Church, you would welcome being insulted.

  7. APX:

    They have the EF Mass Mon-Fri and Sunday.

  8. Cantor says:

    One of the articles mentioned that for now the church uses adult servers for regular Masses and the kids only serve at their school Masses. It will be interesting to check back in a few months to see if this change swells the ranks of boy servers who can then take over regular Mass as well.

  9. benedictgal says:

    Just a little FYI. This is the Oratory in Pharr, Texas. It is two hours away from me.

    http://stjudethaddeus.net/

  10. Gratias says:

    Father Illo is a Holy priest. He is starting a new Oratory of St. Phillip Neri in San Francisco. They will attack him because he is for the March for Life, the Holy Rosary, and offers daily Latin Mass. Hope his parish grows and grows.

    Por la señal de la Santa Cruz de nuestros enemigos líbranos Señor Dios nuestro.

  11. benedictgal says:

    The Oratory in Pharr has altar boys. If people would take the time to read about the Oratorians they would realize that they are about liturgical renewal. The parish in Pharr is a thriving one.

  12. ghp95134 says:

    I live just south of San Francisco and heard this on NPR yesterday. (I listen to NPR much like I used to listen to anti-US propaganda when I was in the army …. one needs to know the enemy!)

    Father Illo explained that serving at the altar leads to vocations and girls cannot become priests, therefore it makes sense to use only boys. However, he said as a consolation (my word, not his), girls could do something else like … read the scriptures.

    –Guy

  13. cdet1997 says:

    Good lord. That news story is flush with disdain and devoid of any intellectual curiosity. Are you telling me they couldn’t find just one layperson who understands the role of an altar server and its relationship to increasing vocations?

  14. benedictgal says:

    Maybe we should send some monetary support to the parish. I visited the website; the only caveat is that the “donate” button at the bottom of the page is not working. :( I will be checking it in the hopes that it will soon become operational.

  15. Fatherof7 says:

    I think the most telling part is this quote:

    “I think it is a few people,” Bye said. “I think a lot of the people who are upset are not parishioners.”

    That pretty well sums it up in my humble opinion.

  16. majuscule says:

    Star of the Sea has had Extraordinary Form Masses every day of the week for a few years. It is the church where Archbishop Cordileone celebrated a recent Pontifical Mass. The Archbishop instituted an Oratory of St. Philip Neri there.

    Fr. Illo, in the TV report I viewed, said attendance at the OF Mass was down (or something to that effect) and so if angry parishioners left it would be no big thing. Well, maybe he didn’t say that and I just thought it.

    At any rate there is a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money in support of Star of the Sea because of the altar boy-only flap. It had raised over $30,000 last I looked. You can find the link with a Google if you are interested.

  17. HighMass says:

    Its About TIME! Hurray For Archb. Cordlileone!!!!!!!!!! The liberals pushed girls through by being disobedient and finally Rome Caved….enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    God Bless Bishops and Priests who stand what is Right,,,,,,as Fr. Z would say another reason for Mass in the E.F.!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Uxixu says:

    The factual errors were jarring. The use of girl servers since the 70’s for example.

  19. “Fr. Illo, in the TV report I viewed, said attendance at the OF Mass was down ”

    In one of the several TV reports on this that I’ve viewed, he said that overall parish attendance and collections are both up (not mentioning either EF or OF).

  20. mburn16 says:

    Of course it is well within the right to select males only for the role of altar server – and you may, perhaps, be able to make the argumemt that it os best reserved for males.

    That said, I don’t really buy into the “leads to vocations, therefore only for boys” line of thinking. If you were turning down male altar serving candidates to allow for females, then perhaps you would have an argument. But is that actually the case? At least from what I see at my own parish, where we are lucky to have one altar server under the age of 10 on a good day, I doubt it.

    I am wholly ambivalent on the gender of the servers, at least as far as the current OF goes. There are things unsuitable for girls, but carrying in the candles and pouring water over the Priest’s hands and holding the book probably aren’t among them.

  21. Sonshine135 says:

    Good for Fr. Illo. How many times are actions contrary to Catholic teaching implemented in churches, and nary a peep is said to the dismay of the faithful? Yet, Father does something that is most assuredly proper, and he is chastised and treated like he burned the place down. Where is the news in San Francisco reporting on the fact there are no female Imams in the local mosque?

  22. ies0716 says:

    I commented on the original article at CBS Local and was amused/annoyed at some of the replies. Modern Catholic education on display at its finest!

    On a related note – have you ever done a piece on your blog about the infallibility of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis? There seems to be a lot of (possibly willful) confusion on its status; a good summary of why the ordination of women is infallibly forbidden (along with supporting documentation) would be very helpful to refer to.

  23. frjim4321 says:

    Girls can’t serve because they do a better job?

    ROTFL!

  24. Athelstan says:

    I was under the impression priests didn’t need the bishop’s permission to only have altar boys?

    He doesn’t.

    That said, if your bishop doesn’t have your back on something like this, he can, as we should know, make your life very difficult if he wants to.

    This is why it was gratifying to hear the archbishop make a point of saying he supported this move, even though he didn’t need to.

  25. Athelstan says:

    The factual errors were jarring. The use of girl servers since the 70’s for example.

    No, I believe that was accurate. They were, like many other parishes, employing altar girls in direct violation of Church law many years before the permission was given in 1994. It was the widespread nature of the abuse that helped persuade John Paul II to finally give way.

  26. Athelstan says:

    One other aspect of this story that has NOT been explored in any treatment I have seen:

    Star of the Sea is no ordinary parish. It is also a Community-in-Formation for the Oratory of St. Philip Neri – one of several that have been founded around the country in the last few years. In order to gain papal approval to graduate from Community-in-Formation status to a full-fledged, permanent oratory, it will need to prove itself stable and in accord with Oratorian charisms for at least three years, and that means that they must have at least four clergy (tow of them ordained). At present, they have only two, as I understand it.

    Which means that for Star of the Sea, vocations are not just a luxury. They are a matter of survival. They may or may not gain any vocations out of their altar server crew, but it would be very foolish not to avail themselves of every opportunity to help young men consider a vocation.

  27. johnson2380 says:

    I am reminded of the parable of the Parable of the Talents and Soils. Would anyone fault a farmer for planting seeds on fertile soil?

  28. athelstan: “It was the widespread nature of the abuse that helped persuade John Paul II to finally give way.”

    It is my understanding from numerous reports–though I don’t have documentary evidence at hand–that Pope John Paul II did not actually “give way”–having promised Mother Teresa (among others) that he would never approve altar girls. That the protocol permitting them was sent out irregularly to chanceries around the world without the pope’s knowledge while he was incapacitated in the hospital. So that by the time he knew what had happened, it was a fait accompli that it did not seem feasible to rectify.

  29. MrsMacD says:

    God bless them and be with them. The war is not against the liberals or the femenists it’s against the forces of wickedness and darkness. It goes to show that they’re doing something good when the world makes a racket of it.

  30. TWF says:

    I have great love for the Oratorians. When I was working in Toronto, I regularly attended daily masses at Holy Family Parish. They celebrate both the OF and EF daily but do both with a grace and dignity that cannot be expressed in words. Daily confessions are heard. They run two parishes, an elementary school, and a philosophy (undergrad) seminary in Toronto.

  31. jhayes says:

    Henry Edwards wrote It is my understanding from numerous reports–though I don’t have documentary evidence at hand–that Pope John Paul II did not actually “give way”–having promised Mother Teresa (among others) that he would never approve altar girls. That the protocol permitting them was sent out irregularly to chanceries around the world without the pope’s knowledge while he was incapacitated in the hospital. So that by the time he knew what had happened, it was a fait accompli that it did not seem feasible to rectify.

    In 1983, laypersons of both sexes were authorized to perform various liturgical functions by Section 230 of the new CIC. In 1992, the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts confirmed that applied to altar servers and JPII approved that decision. The CDW did not send out a “Communication” to National Bishops Councils until 1994, saying:

    As you know, Canon 230 #2 lays down that:

    “Laici ex temporanea deputatione in actionibus liturgicis munus lectoris implere possunt; item omnes laici muneribus commentatoris, cantoris aliisve ad normam iuris fungi possunt. ”

    The Pontifical Council for the interpretation of Legislative Texts was recently asked if the liturgical functions which, according to the above canon, can be entrusted to the lay faithful, may be carried out equally by men and women, and if serving at the altar may be included among those functions, on a par with the others indicated by the canon.

    At its meeting of 30 June 1992, the members of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts examined the following dubium which had been proposed to them:

    “Utrum inter munera liturgica quibus laici, sive viri sive mulieres, iuxta C.I. C. Can. 230 #2, fungi possunt, adnumerari etiam possit servitium ad altare.”

    The following response was given: “Affirmative et iuxta instructiones a Sede Apostolica dandas.”

    Subsequently, at an Audience granted on 11 July 1992 to the Most Reverend Vincenzo Fagiolo, Archbishop Emeritus of Chieti-Vasto and President of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, Pope John Paul II confirmed the decision and ordered its promulgation. This will be done in the near future.

    HERE

    In sending out this notice, the CDW added several interpretations of its own, such as leaving decisons to each bishop for his own diocese.

    It seems clear that the decision by the Pontifical Council was approved by JPII. The document doesn’t say that the added points by the CDW were reviewed by him, so that may have been what you were thinking of.

  32. truthfinder says:

    There was a lot of terrible reporting in that news clip. The one woman seems not to be associated in any way – just asked for an opinion, but edited in a way that looks like she’s more connected. Further, the EF cannot have girls serving, so it’s not just the priest, but the command of the Church itself. And finally, the sneering tone of “Fr. Joseph” is grating – why can’t could they use Fr. Illo and not make the ridiculous facial expressions of mock horror?

  33. acardnal says:

    Supplementing jhayes comment above, Fr. Z remarked on the subject in a previous post and cited a more recent document from the CDW from the Holy See: Prot. No. 2451/00/L dated July 27, 2001 .

    HERE

    My personal opinion: male servers promote vocations to the priesthood. Boys and girls of a certain age often find each other “icky.”

  34. Liz says:

    Sorry but the above is a link to people who can help his parish out. I was happy to contribute and happy to see it!

  35. AAJD says:

    I met Fr. Illo when we were both teaching in Ukraine in 2001. He is a lovely and gracious man whose charitable but firm defense of the Church and especially her liturgical tradition is wonderful to see.

  36. frjim4321 says:

    Fifteen or more years ago this would not have been a big deal. The main stream Catholics would have just moved down the street to a functional Catholic parish and a handful of retrogrades would have stayed, and maybe a few retro Catholics from the surrounding areas would have swarmed to the retro parish.

    Unfortunately what happens now is when Catholics are alienated that don’t go to another Catholic parish. They go to a protestant mega church or they just stop going altogether.

  37. Maxiemom says:

    There’s a place at the table for all of us – those who are traditionalists and those who are post Vatican II Catholics. I personally feel the if the Church were to go back to pre-Vatican II the exodus from the Church would be great.

  38. jhayes says:

    truthfinder wrote the EF cannot have girls serving, so it’s not just the priest, but the command of the Church itself.

    I suspect that a priest celebrating the EF might elect not to have female servers, but I don’t know that they are prohibited by the Church.

    Article 27 of the Instruction to Summorum Pontificum makes clear that the 1983 Code of Canon Law applies (authorizing female altar servers). Article 28 provides for derogations from the 1983 CIC where “incompatible with the rubics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962”, but I don’t know that it has ever been decided officially that female altar servers are incompatible with the rubrics.

  39. Boniface says:

    frjim4321, those whose belief in and practice of their faith depends on the visibility of altar girls at mass are not likely to begin attending megachurches – especially since the bulk of those are far from cheerleaders for the presumable political ideologies that would see altar girls as a dealbreaker kind of issue. If the families in question stop going to church altogether, it belies a much deeper catechetical issue – and is not the phenomenon of altar girls a reflection of – even a product of – that problem? Also, I’d like to see numbers on how “mainstream” are altar girls since their appearance in the 1980S or 1990s.

  40. q7swallows says:

    I note that not one boy or altar boy was interviewed for his opinion on the matter. Yeah, I guess the film clip of their high fives would have soured the report.

  41. Singing Mum says:

    Fr. Jim says, “Unfortunately what happens now is when Catholics are alienated that don’t go to another Catholic parish. They go to a protestant mega church or they just stop going altogether.”

    Sadly, that is what many of my family did after the sudden changes they experienced in the early 70’s. As my uncle put it, “no one took it seriously anymore. So I stopped taking it seriously.” Another branch has fallen to the megachurch way.

  42. JonPatrick says:

    I saw the link to the fund drive on Michael Voris’ site and contributed there. If we believe in moving the Church to the restoration of authentic Catholic liturgy and doctrine then we need to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.

    Maxiemom I don’t think it is as simple as “moving back to pre-Vatican 2” . Much of what Vatican 2 taught was either misinterpreted or ignored. For example read what Sacrosanctum Concilium says about the liturgy and compare that to how it is done at your local Church. Has the use of the Latin Language been preserved? Is the choir director endeavoring to help the congregation sing the chants in Latin as SC asks? Does the organ have pride of place in the music? V2 did not prescribe much of the craziness that went on in the last 40 years; it just gave cover for those who for years preceding V2 had been plotting the Modernist takeover of the Church.

  43. arga says:

    I notice that neither the home page of Star of the Sea nor the page on which the statement is published contains the word “Catholic.” It is just “Star of the Sea Church” and “Star of the Sea School.”

  44. Jean Marie says:

    Ahh…..the return of sanity. Ain’t it wonderful!! As you say, Fr. Z, brick by brick.

  45. Uxixu spak thus on 28 January 2015 at 11:53 am:

    The factual errors were jarring. The use of girl servers since the 70’s for example.

    In some dioceses (many?), in disobedience to the specific directives, just as with Communion in the hand, many priests were encouraging female altar servers in a/an (successful?) attempt from the mid 70s on to force a change in ancient practice as some sort of ‘acculturation’ and ‘ground-up’ movement of the spirit (specifically not capitalized, since the spirit in question was born of pride and disobedience) that forced the Holy Father’s hand in granting an indult to do so.

    The jebbies at Fordham encouraged it at many Masses I attended while there ’74-’78; I can remember hearing Sunday Mass at Transfiguration Church (staffed by the Carmelites) in Tarrytown NY with my, at the time, girlfriend, and so accustomed to receiving ‘in the hand’ (at Fordham, the priest just stood there with a plate piled high with chunks of semi-spongy bread and you picked up a piece from the plate yourself while he benignly smiled at you…) that I did so in this local church, and the priest didn’t even blink an eye as he placed the host in my hand. And this was in 1977, upon recollection.

    I’ve since repented of my cavalier attitude towards such things, and hope the Lord is gracious in His forgiveness of my youthful nature. He’ll have enough other things to focus on, I’m sure.

    So, the seeds of the current aggida were sown long ago and sprang from the same spirit of ‘semper reformada’ that marked the post-V-II follies. It’s hard to take away toys from children who think they have unlimited rights to do what they want. And the temper tantrums when a grown up exercises good judgement to stop them are just as puerile.

  46. Fr. Jim opined:

    Unfortunately what happens now is when Catholics are alienated that don’t go to another Catholic parish. They go to a protestant mega church or they just stop going altogether.


    Yeah, that’ll put a dent in the collection plate. Can’t have that.

    But, once people wake up, they do tend to vote with their feet.

    Feed ’em spiritual junk food, and any drive-up with teenagers behind the counter and pop music and broadway show tunes through the pa system will do.

    You want red-meat Catholicism that will stick with you? Go where the adults go. Morton’s. Ruth’s Chris. Delmonico’s. Sit down, fine furnishings, and respectful service second to none, with no ambiguity as to the quality.

    We’ve got enough fast-food parishes. That’s why the sit-down, adult-oriented ones stand out.

  47. chantgirl says:

    I just don’t understand why more traditional bishops don’t take the reins and make the decision that only males serve. Then, parishioners don’t run around parish-hopping. No particular pastor has to take the fall. The gripers can gripe but they couldn’t punish particular parishes.

    That would be real, paternal leadership. I’d go to the wall for such a bishop.

    On a side note, I can see an Eye of the Tiber “The Altar Girls are Banish-ed” piece coming soon.

  48. Mike says:

    My New-Age-to-Catholic Translator (NATOCATRANS, pronounced ‘Nagadish’, still under development), fed mainstream, returns Conformant to the spirit of the age; see also modernist, evanescent, politically correct, Mt 7:13, 2 Tim 4:3.

  49. govmatt says:

    I wish more priests, especially at my parish, had this kind of courage.

  50. Per Signum Crucis says:

    Thanks to Athelstan for putting Star of the Sea’s decision, nay, need into perspective. It’s annoying when detail like this is overlooked whether wilfully or otherwise.

  51. frbkelly says:

    jhayes says: I suspect that a priest celebrating the EF might elect not to have female servers, but I don’t know that they are prohibited by the Church.

    This is an old one which was settled by the Ecclesia Dei commission sometime before 2011 (the publication of Universae Ecclesiae). I took a quick look through cyberspace and found that most of the sources including the decisions of the Ecclesia Dei Commission are now down.
    EWTN Document library maintains archives of Zenit posts including references to these things as well as New Liturgical movement. Short of the PCED decisions, I will refer you to Cardinal Burke’s preface to Fr. Weishaupt’s canonical commentary on Summorum Pontificum in which he says this:

    In the second chapter of his commentary, Weishaupt answers a number of practical issues that arise regarding the implementation of Summorum Pontificum and result from recent changes to the discipline of the celebration of the sacraments, such as e.g. those regarding female altar servers or lay people who perform the ministry of lectors or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. To answer these questions , the commentary correctly applies two general canonical principles.

    The first principle requires that liturgical norms, which were in force in 1962, are to be diligently observed for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, for these norms protect the integrity of the Roman rite as contained in the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. The second principle states that the subsequent liturgical discipline is only to be introduced in the Extraordinary Form, if this discipline affects a right of the faithful, which follows directly from the sacrament of baptism and serves the eternal salvation of their souls.

    The application of these two principles to the cases mentioned leads to the conclusion that neither the service at the altar by persons of the female sex nor the exercise of the lay ministries of lector or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion belong to the basic rights of the baptized. Therefore, these recent developments, out of respect for the integrity of the liturgical discipline as contained in the Missale Romanum of 1962, are not to be introduced into the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite. The commentary presents here in an impressive manner that the mutual enrichment of both forms of the Roman rite is only possible if discipline peculiar to each of the two forms is accordingly carefully observed.

    This is the opinion of Cardinal Burke as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura on the applicability of Canon Law to certain matters of discipline re. the implementation of SP. I think it is fair to say that the Church has prohibited female altar servers in the Extraordinary form of the Mass.

  52. jhayes says:

    Uxixu wrote: The factual errors were jarring. The use of girl servers since the 70’s for example.

    Yes, the TV news program got that wrong.

    Fr. Illo said “Girls have been permitted to serve Mass since 1994” HERE

    1994 is when the CDW announced that girls and women could be altar servers.

  53. jhayes says:

    frbkelly, Cardinal Burke’s prefaxe to Weishaupt’s book was discussed at length back in 2011 on this blog. Sunsequently, Fr. Z posted a letter sent to him by a canonist, who commented:

    canon 2 states that “Codex plerumque non definit ritus, qui in actionibus liturgicis celebrandis sunt servandi; quare leges liturgicae hucusque vigentes vim suam retinent, nisi earum aliqua Codicis canonibus sit contraria.” In this case, canon 230 (as authentically interpreted) is contrary to the prior liturgical law in force at the time (remember: BXVI told us that the missal of 1962 was never abrogated, so that must mean that it was still in force and, therefore, part of what would be impacted by the code of 1983). Consequently, it follows that a priest may use a female altar server when celebrating the Mass according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite if he determines that unique (peculiares) reasons exist to do so (must foster salvation of souls). Whether the reasons are substantial enough to warrant using a female altar server in the extraordinary form (or in the ordinary form — note that the standard is identical for both) is the province of prudence, and the Church gives terrifically wide discretion to the exercise of prudence.

    HERE

  54. acardnal says:

    jhayes wrote, “1994 is when the CDW announced that girls and women could be altar servers.”

    Unfortunately, in the USA they were used illicitly for many years prior to 1994. Same thing with communion in the hand.

  55. Ben Kenobi says:

    “we are lucky to have one altar server under the age of 10 on a good day”

    “There are things unsuitable for girls, but carrying in the candles and pouring water over the Priest’s hands and holding the book probably aren’t among them.”

    Anyone surprised that a parish that’s ambivalent sees few servers?