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Altar girls banned in San Francisco.

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2015/01/28 09:27:53 (permalink)

Altar girls banned in San Francisco.

Updated at 11:56 AM PST on Monday, Jan 26, 2015

One San Francisco Catholic church said it will not have girls as altar
servers, and its priest behind the policy is coming under fire.

Families tied to the Star of the Sea Church, located on Ninth and Geary streets in
San Francisco, said they are shocked about the new policy that would only
allow altar boys to serve.

Father Josephy Illo, who came to the church about six months ago, said many
girls were serving the altar for years.

He explained the reason for the switch.

"We'd like to get back to an altar boy program, which is a proven,
effective way to promoting vocations to the priesthood," Father Illo said.
"So boys get closer to the altar, and as you know, the Catholic church does
not ordain women."

But parents said they are outraged.

"I think it's ridiculous," Jewli Judd said. "I think nowadays that's not
the way we're going. It's not P.C. [politically correct]."

Father Illo said parents who oppose the policy will eventually see the
greater good. But he also said it is important to have programs for both
boys and girls. And he said there are special social groups for girls,
places to read at the mass, and girls can prepare the altar.

But, while some families are OK with the policy, others said it sends the
wrong message.


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    Re: Altar girls banned in San Francisco. 2015/01/28 09:36:52 (permalink)
    I found this last post on a link from the USA - really such a wrong decision to ban altar girls now - it has been such a great improvement for change in the sense that women can now be at the altar during the Eucharist, whereas before they were not even allowed to be in that area at all!! It is really a shame that there are such narrow minded people still with this idea that women should be kept away from 'sacred' spaces...let us hope that this idea does not take over. It has been a good time of hope to see young women as well as young men as altar servers in our Churches! 
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    Re: Altar girls banned in San Francisco. 2015/02/16 10:46:47 (permalink)
    A good answer to Fr Illo can be found in this article by Mgr M Francis Mannion in "Intermountian Catholic"
    By Msgr. M. Francis MannionPastor emeritus of St. Vincent de Paul Parish

    In a Jan. 26 statement, Father Joseph Illo, pastor of Star of the Sea Parish in San Francisco, announced a new policy whereby altar girls at Mass would be phased out and thenceforth only boys would serve at the altar.
    Fr. Illo gives both practical and theological reasons for the move: “First, in a mixed altar-server program, boys usually end up losing interest, because girls generally do a better job.”
    As a long-time parish priest, this has not been my experience. Altar servers – both boys and girls – are as good as the training they receive. I have never perceived that girls do a better job, or that boys lose interest when serving with girls. 
    Fr. Illo states: “A boys-only program gives altar boys the space to develop their own leadership potential.” 
    In this age of gender equality, should we really be training boys to develop leadership skills in a world apart from girls and women generally? And do we want a priesthood that does not know how to deal with women?
    He goes on to say that “altar service is intrinsically tied to the priesthood and serves as feeder programs for the seminary.” 
    As a sacramental theologian, I would flatly state that there is no theological basis for asserting that altar service is intrinsically tied to the priesthood.  
    Fr. Illo continues: “Nothing awakens a desire for the priesthood like service at the altar.”  
    I know of no studies that would back this up. In the parish in which I serve, there are three young men considering the priesthood and none were or are altar boys. 
    He states further: “At the risk of generalizing, I suspect young men serving with young women might just distract them from the sacrifice of the Mass, and perhaps even from a priestly vocation.” 
    Generalizations are a tricky business, and “I suspect” is hardly an adequate basis for a pastoral policy.
    Fr. Illo asserts, “If this altar boy policy bothers us, we must ask ourselves if we have not unconsciously accepted the errors of the current age; specifically that the differences between men and women have no more spiritual significance than ‘plumbing’ arrangements.”  
    I doubt that Catholic girls and women have assumed whole-heartedly the principles of deconstructionist feminism. If they have, they wouldn’t darken the door of the church in the first place!
    Fr. Illo does plan to have girls read the Scriptures at Mass. Surely there is a huge contradiction here. Is there not a greater connection between priestly ministry at the altar and ministry at the ambo than there is between the ministry of the priest at the altar and the ministry of altar servers? I see no reason why Fr. Illo would not also ban girls from reading at the Mass. 
    And what about women serving as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion? Is not the role of handling the Body and Blood of Christ of greater dignity than washing the priest’s hands? And how does Fr. Illo regard the fact that in some parts of the world women perform baptisms, marriages, and funerals, and lead Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest?
    I serve in what would be regarded as a typical Catholic parish, neither overly “liberal” nor overly “conservative.” I have no doubt that there would be uproar if we banned altar girls, not least because girls and young adult women are the most alienated groups in the Church.
    I regard Fr. Illo’s policy as lacking theological validity and pastoral prudence – and as just plain old-fashioned.
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