San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone addressed the crowd at the 2014 March for Marriage rally on June 19 in Washington, D.C. He attended the event despite protests from more than 80 organizations who objected to his presence. RNS photo by Heather Adams

San Francisco priest who raised eyebrows and banned altar girls is dropped as school chaplain

(RNS) The San Francisco priest who sparked controversy earlier this year by barring altar girls has been replaced as chaplain of the church’s Catholic grade school.

The Rev. Joseph Illo also made news in February when he gave students at Star of the Sea School a form to prepare them for confession, asking whether they had masturbated or advised anyone to have an abortion.

San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone addressed the crowd at the 2014 March for Marriage rally on June 19 in Washington, D.C. He attended the event despite protests from more than 80 organizations who objected to his presence.  RNS photo by Heather Adams

San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone addressed the crowd at the 2014 March for Marriage rally on June 19 in Washington, D.C. He attended the event despite protests from more than 80 organizations who objected to his presence. RNS photo by Heather Adams


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Illo later said the confession form was a mistake, but the controversies added to the clamor surrounding San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, an outspoken conservative and opponent of gay marriage who is embroiled in a dispute with teachers at several Catholic schools about morality clauses in a new handbook.

Illo’s removal as school chaplain was made quietly, appearing April 29 in a listing of personnel changes in the archdiocese that named the Rev. Vito Perrone as the new chaplain. Typically the pastor will serve as chaplain of a school that is attached to a parish, but another person can be designated for the role.

A conservative website, Catholic World Report, that supports Cordileone and Illo first reported the change and saw it as part of a campaign against both men.

Illo wrote in a letter to parents last week that he was still pastor at the church, saying that “indications thus far are that I will remain administrator of Star of the Sea Parish for the foreseeable future.”

Local media this week followed up on the story, citing a parent who was happy about the move and praised Perrone as “a wonderful human being and a wonderful spiritual teacher.”

Illo, meanwhile, appeared to be trying to quiet the waters.

An unapologetic culture warrior and lightning rod, he originally defended his boys-only altar server policy as “a poke in the eye of the liberal culture of San Francisco.” And last year, when he was assigned to San Francisco, he wrote a blog post saying he was about to enter the “beautiful but savagely distorted cultural maelstrom that is the ‘Baghdad by the Bay.’”

Last week, however, Illo’s letter to parents said, “I understand how important that it is that we develop a better working relationship moving forward.”

Speaking about the altar server controversy, he added: “I deeply regret the upset this issue has called us all.”

KRE/MG END GIBSON

Comments

  1. Overzealous priests speaking on the side of the Church are more preferable than a liberal priest teetering on the edge of heresy. Altar girls are allowed, but some parishes avoid it…and children preparing for Confession are far too young to understand abortion or masturbation.
    Perhaps working in this notoriously gay city caused him to overreact, who knows? His words are more suitable for young adults. I admire his fervor in doing his job.

  2. The Rev. Joseph Illo also made news in February when he gave students at Star of the Sea School a form to prepare them for confession, asking whether they had masturbated or advised anyone to have an abortion.

    That’s called an ‘examination of conscience’ and its a review sheet to prepare for the confessional. It’s perfectly unremarkable and they were used routinely before Vatican II.

  3. I never saw such a thing, nor ever heard the words “masturbation” or “abortion”. I was prepared for the Sacrament pre-Vatican II , attending a Catholic School. ???

  4. The collective charge of deicide was routinely used before Vatican II too. “It was all okay in the 1950s” seems to be a common refrain around RNS these days. Are you really asserting that a pastor should ask little kids if they masturbate? No, it’s pretty remarkable to the outside world.

  5. Yes, the examination of conscience for children preparing for their First Confession is different from those for adults. But of course in San Fran, one must address the local situations, and maybe that one is to the point. There is no such thing as innocent children anymore, the internet has destroyed their innocence. So the Church must be cognizant of that.

  6. Is it okay? Well, technically it is not wrong, but common sense should direct the person teaching one about an examination of conscious. If masturbation or abortion are not a part of their consciousness then they could not understand the question….ergo, not guilty of this sin.
    We are told as children that “thou shall not
    commit adultery”, but at 7 years old none of
    my peers knew what it meant…..so why would
    we reflect on it? Of course, the teacher
    COULD explain the definition if he/she chose to, but it would be akin to explaining E=MC2.

  7. So what? To some extent euphamisms were used (“impurity”) and priority was given to people’s everyday offenses, which did not include doing the dirty work of the Planned Parenthood Federation.

    You’re lying, by the way.

  8. The heretics and apostates win another cheap victory over a faithful priest.

  9. Indeed. Two things the Devil uses to achieve his goal of sucking man down into hell with him for all eternity:
    1) Division (divide and conquer)
    2) Refusal to recognize sin (ultimately calling evil good, and good evil)
    We see both of these playing out very clearly in our day.

  10. Sure. Blame it on gay people. Why not?

  11. Oh boy! fight between conservative Catholics over which one is themore reactionary!

    Yahoo!

  12. You should really learn to look in the mirror when you make a comment like that.

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