Lions and Altar Boys and Conservative Parishes – Oh My!

I would just like to address a story that was first run by the National Catholic Reporter (or, as it’s known in my world, the National Catholic Fishwrap).  It was a story about a “Council of Priests” meeting of the San Francisco Archdiocese where Fr. Joseph Illo got skewered by some of his fellow priests.  Skewering Fr. Illo and Fr. Driscoll seems to really be a hobby for some, so it was hardly shocking that it happened.  The thing that was so shocking was that a priest at the meeting apparently taped it (the quotes were a little too accurate for anything else) and then gave it to Sam Singer or the National Catholic Reporter, or both.  Singer and his other minions then took it and ran with it. The sad thing is that it really, really just made them look pathetic – a big miscalculation on the part of the “leaker”. Imagine this: you’re a priest and you’re having a fraternal meeting that’s supposed to be a help to all involved. The next thing you know, you find it in a tabloid. Like I said, pathetic, and a massive breach of fraternal trust and respect. The next Council of Priests meeting ought to be – how shall I say? – awkward.

I wasn’t familiar with the “Council of Priests” (formerly “Senate of Priests”), so I looked it up on the Archdiocesan website.   Apparently, most of the priests in attendance might want to do the same, because it was anything but what it was supposed to be, according to the preamble of the policy!  I can’t copy and paste it, because it’s a darn PDF with no OCR (or something like that), and I don’t feel like spending hours trying to type it up, but here it is for your viewing pleasure:   If you don’t want to spend time looking at the link, here’s the synopsis. “Blah blah … fraternal … blah blah … unity … unity … fraternal … united.”   Somehow, I missed the part where it was a forum for burning a fellow priest at the stake.  Did anyone else see that part?  Maybe I just missed it.  Who was assigned to marshmallows?

Let’s look at some of the comments from his fellow priests cited in the NCR hit piece:

“[Fr. J. Michael] Strange told council members that ‘he found other aspects of Fr. Illo’s parish bulletin explanation [in regard to] this new policy troublesome, as was the fact that Fr. Illo did not consult his deanery to see if this was a wise and prudent move prior to implementing this policy, noting consultation is one of the purposes of a deanery.’”

Um, no.  Can you say “ego”?  The purpose of a deanery is not to measure every action of priests against the norms of a liberal society.  Instead, the purpose is to ensure the priests are adhering to Canon Law.  Canonically, the DEAN of a deanery has some duties, not the whole club.  Here’s his duties laid out in Canon Law for those who don’t read it for fun like I do (“Vicar Forane” equals Dean).

Can. 555 §1. In addition to the faculties legitimately given to him by particular law, the vicar forane has the duty and right:

1/ of promoting and coordinating common pastoral activity in the vicariate;

2/ of seeing to it that the clerics of his district lead a life in keeping with their state and perform their duties diligently;

3/ of seeing to it that religious functions are celebrated according to the prescripts of the sacred liturgy, that the beauty and elegance of churches and sacred furnishings are maintained carefully, especially in the Eucharistic celebration and custody of the Most Blessed Sacrament, that the parochial registers are inscribed correctly and protected appropriately, that ecclesiastical goods are administered carefully, and finally that the rectory is cared for with proper diligence.

  • 2. In the vicariate entrusted to him, the vicar forane:

1/ is to see to it that, according to the prescripts of particular law and at the times stated, the clerics attend lectures, theological meetings, or conferences according to the norm of can. 279, §2;

2/ is to take care that spiritual supports are available to the presbyters of his district, and likewise to be concerned especially for those who find themselves in more difficult circumstances or are beset by problems.

  • 3. The vicar forane is to take care that the pastors of his district whom he knows to be gravely ill do not lack spiritual and material aids and that the funeral rites of those who have died are celebrated worthily. He is also to make provision so that, on the occasion of illness or death, the registers, documents, sacred furnishings, and other things which belong to the Church are not lost or removed.
  • 4. A vicar forane is obliged to visit the parishes of his district according to the determination made by the diocesan bishop.

Anyone see the part where “rule by consensus” is mentioned?  No?  Didn’t think so.  Did you see one thing in there that the Dean should be worried about with respect to Star of the Sea’s “altar girls”?  Nope.

Fr. Strange also said that he had to “spend much time” on it (presumably altar girls).  Really?  Because a parish with 60ish attendees at each Mass had their news spread like wildfire? Methinks the flames were fanned furiously by priests who have a bizarre phobia of more traditional parishes.

The then Auxiliary Bishop Robert McElroy (the new bishop of San Diego) said, “excluding girls from being altar servers is ‘invidious discrimination’ and to do this in this day and age in our culture has no justification.” (Sorry San Diego, my prayers go out to you!) Seriously, where does he get this stuff???  Just so you understand, “invidious discrimination” is actually a legal term meaning “the treating of a class of persons unequally in a manner that is malicious, hostile, or damaging”.  (Can you see the ground work being laid here?!) Let me explain something to the liberals out there: I am a woman.   An altar-boy-only policy is not malicious, hostile or damaging to women, and quite frankly, I resent you saying so. Talk about misogynistic! My value and worth as a Catholic woman (and that of my daughters, for that matter) is hardly contingent on me (or them) serving as an “altar boy”, and it would be so nice if you’d stop pitting boys against girls in this matter.  We don’t need you to defend us, and, if you’re reading this blog right now – well, enough said.  And, by the way, you also might actually want to look at the Church teaching on the matter.  Do you really not know that the Magisterium says it is up to the local bishop and the pastor?  I’m reasonably sure you couldn’t have missed this, and that you might possibly be intentionally misleading, but hey, it’s just a guess.  For you readers who are not up on Catholic teaching – a group which apparently contains some priests and bishops of the Archdiocese of San Francisco – here it is from Redemptionis Sacramentum: (

“[47.] It is altogether laudable to maintain the noble custom by which boys or youths, customarily termed servers, provide service of the altar after the manner of acolytes, and receive catechesis regarding their function in accordance with their power of comprehension. Nor should it be forgotten that a great number of sacred ministers over the course of the centuries have come from among boys such as these. Associations for them, including also the participation and assistance of their parents, should be established or promoted, and in such a way greater pastoral care will be provided for the ministers. Whenever such associations are international in nature, it pertains to the competence of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to establish them or to approve and revise their statutes. Girls or women may also be admitted to this service of the altar, at the discretion of the diocesan Bishop and in observance of the established norms.”

Anybody see “invidious discrimination” in there?  No?  Not a whole heck of a lot different than the reasons the Archbishop and Fr. Illo gave for not employing “altar girls” at Star of the Sea.

Then we have St. Philip Neri Oratory.  Again, we’ve got some very concerned priests in this area. The laity, for the most part, is still trying to figure out what an “oratory’ is so I’m reasonably sure it didn’t scare any of us.

Fr. Strange says the Oratory is “a divisive force” and wonders “if there is an implication that the rest of us are not imparting the true Catholic faith.” (Odds are that has nothing to do with the oratory!) Fr. David Ghiorso, another Council attendee, says he “would never vote to invite them into the archdiocese, finds them an embarrassment and thinks they should be returned to their own dioceses.”

Wow! Got hypocrisy?! Holy divisive force Batman! San Francisco is supposed to be tolerant and welcoming – no? Nobody is telling the other priests they must do x, y, or z at this or that parish. They are simply saying we are doing this here in order to try and boost vocations.

My favorite part of the article is where Fr. Michael Hurley, OP, asks “Have any of you ever talked to Fr. Illo???” to which their answer was stunned silence or akin to a teen throwing a dramatic temper tantrum and saying “No! He’s supposed to come talk to us!” What the?!? If the tables were turned, can you just see Fr. Illo’s fellow priestly brothers lining up to come ask HIS opinion? Yeah, neither can I. Good job, Fr. Hurley, for trying to inject a little love into the fraternal pitchfork-bearing mob.

This all begs the question – What are these liberal priests so afraid of that they would do this?  This is ONE parish, with very poor attendance for its size, surrounded by all of them – some less than a mile away.  Why do they think their parishioners would be concerned about somebody else’s parish?   Might it have something to do with the disparaging remarks some pastors are making from their own pulpits about Star of the Sea and the Archbishop?  (Oh, yeah, we’ve heard all about that, St. Ignatius).  Again, they are not being told they must do what Fr. Illo and Fr. Driscoll are doing at Star of the Sea, so where’s the beef?  (Yes, I’m a child of the ‘80s) Oooh! Oooh! Oooh! (…and the ‘70s) I know the answer!  Pick me!  Pick me!  The liberals are TERRIFIED that this conservative Catholicism thing might actually catch on.  The writing has been on the wall for a while and they know it. There are tons of young, up and coming, conservative, faithful priests who are spiritually attractive to the faithful, and they are sucking people into their world just by being faithful.  They’re not disparaging the parish down the street, nor will they.   They are sowing seeds of love and Truth.  The worst part about this for the Liberals?  They’ve seen it working.  Attendance is on the rise.  People are showing overwhelming support for this parish.   Star of the Sea has some new life!

Please pray that this crazy sibling rivalry ends soon for the Archdiocese of San Francisco and that Archbishop Cordileone, Fr. Illo and Fr. Driscoll stay the course during these trying times!

58 thoughts on “Lions and Altar Boys and Conservative Parishes – Oh My!

    1. Anything that contravenes liberal orthodoxy is “divisive”. Note that, by definition, it is impossible for anything liberal to be “divisive’

      Note that people are called “Diviisive” when they haven’t done a thing wrong, but merely disagree with the liberal position.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What evil has taken over these priests?! The smoke of Satan has turned into a raging inferno. They have put themselves in opposition to Our Lord and His Holy Commandments. Blessed Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You sound like my mom, may she rest in peace. I instantly recognized your goodness. I am also praying for you and all brave bloggers who are defending and teaching the Catholic Faith. The Wuerls, Dolans and other sissies and modernists will not, so the faithful have to do so. Thank you! God protect you! And God and Our Lady watch over Archbishop Cordileone and his faithful priests!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was an excellent example of what a local blog can do well and give real insight into what is going on. It is hard to fathom the bullying in the vicariate by liberal SF priests who apparently thought they ought to have oversight over Fr Illo using the common Catholic practice of male altar servers. Yes, there is also an attack on the Archbishop, but to me as a lay person, what is also so troubling is that some (ideologically motivated?) priests would actively seek to DENY lay people who want a more traditional style of (Novus Ordo) Mass anyplace to go. It is zero surprise that Star of the Sea Parish now has new families signing up. I am a woman and I go to a WI parish that only has Novus Ordo Mass and only has male altar servers and I absolutely think this is good.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Our Lord’s kingdom is not of this world. Jesus clearly told us that. However, we also know that Marxists infiltrated our schools and seminaries and from then on the focus was shifted from the heavenly kingdom to the affairs of this world and its philosophies.
    We need to pray for our leaders; that they may have the grace, wisdom and courage to bring the focus back to our Lord, his Church and his teachings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really like the thingee you used for the link! Check it out folks! A good tool when battling The Dark Side…


  5. Welcome — great blog. Love your fire. This is exactly what the church needs, committed faithful laymen and women. Thank you, thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Just dropping by to lend my support. Although I live a 1000 miles north of SF, the absurd assaults being perpetrated against the most Reverend Archbishop Cordileone and against Father Joseph Illo should be a concern to every Catholic, American or not. Please continue to bring forth some righteous anger, and count on my support. As the Pope-quoting, on-line Z-preacher would say, ¡Hagan lío!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “The then Auxiliary Bishop Robert McElroy (the new bishop of San Diego) said, “excluding girls from being altar servers is ‘invidious discrimination’ and to do this in this day and age in our culture has no justification.””

    One gets the feeling that Bishop McElroy won’t be going far out of his way to drop in on the FSSP parish in San Diego.

    Congratulations on the new blog endeavor, OMM.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Would that we British could muster such fire! God bless and keep you and Abp Cordeleone, Fr Illo et al. Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us; Holy Michael Archangel, defend us in the day of battle.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. You go girl. Why oh why are we as women being forced, encouraged, cajoled, mandated to leave our traditional roles. If you want to be a stay-at-home mom these days, you had better be married to a CEO. Why the push to get women on the altar? There is nothing wrong with the separation of the genders (apart from the fact that Deus viros esse sacerdotes vult). Why can’t these people who want what they call “gender equality” in the church, go join the Lutherans or the Episcopalians? I live in the Greater NY area, and I don’t see any great push from inside (or outside) the Hasidic Community to encourage their gals to chuck their wigs and attend Friday night services in the front with the fellas….

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yours is the first blog I’ve ever left a comment on after years of following many others. Please know that there are MILLIONS of Americans praying for your Archbishop and his holy orthodox priests. These men of God and folks like you are the cities upon the hill in this world of darkness. Please keep up the good fight and know my family’s prayers are with you daily. God bless you all.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Agree with all the favorable comments and add mine! Thank you for being a voice of faith and sanity from the heart of the whirlwind. Let’s also pray for conversion of heart for the clergy who have sold their Catholic faith for a mess of secular pottage. Fathers, it’s not your job to conform to the world. Maybe you missed that part of Our Lord’s teachings somewhere along the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. “…to do this in our day and age has no justification” is a frustrating phrase. Looks like the Church is no longer to set the standard, but to accommodate “this day and age.”

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. LOL.

    Our modern day prelates want to hear from women? Let them hear from women like you, in the millions! It is WAY past time that Catholic women… I mean CATHOLIC women… spoke up and demanded their rights in the Church.

    Keep up the good work. God bless you; Our Lady, Mistress Mary, keep you; and Saint Joseph defend you.


    Liked by 3 people

      1. We’re a wing of the Church Militant!

        One doesn’t need a whole blog either.

        Man the comboxes!

        Er…I’m not one to be PC so you know what I mean. Okay, let’s compromise…woMAN the comboxes!


  14. “excluding girls from being altar servers is ‘invidious discrimination’ and to do this in this day and age in our culture has no justification.”

    What a sad, dated, bell-bottoms-wearing piece of rhetoric coming out of the mouth of a bishop.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Reblogged this on Deaconjohn1987's Blog and commented:
    From Fr. Z: I direct the readership’s attention to a blog post by a newcomer…

    She reacted to the attacks on the Star of the Sea parish and Frs. Ill and Driscoll by the liberal priests in San Francisco.

    She’s not happy.

    Go see! Spike her stats.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. You go mad mom! If this is crazy or angry I’m the same! Lets hope Star of the Sea grows, prospers and spreads God’s word in a place where it is much needed!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. God bless you! Just as the “samidzat” underground broadsheet/newspapers brought about the fall of the eastern communist countries in the late 80s (imagine what would have happened if the net had been as widespread then?), the underground of faithful, CATHOLIC, orthodox bloggers and commentary will do much to wrest control of the Faith from the aging radicals of the 60s who have been in control of the discussion for far far too long.

    Love your graphic at the top of the page…your commentary…you’re now on my bookmark list. Keep it up, and my rosary tonight will be for your intentions and the well-being of your family. Welcome to the fight!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. This is a new blog?? Wow, and I thought I just missed seeing it until now! I live in AZ, and our Bishop’s own parish announced that they would no longer have girl alter-servers about 2-3 years ago. If there was any kind of reaction, (I have to assume there was) I never heard about it. I first heard about Star of The Sea on ChurchMilitant.TV, and donated to them at that time. I have also signed whatever I could to encourage the Archbishop. San Fran has a least 3 true Men of God, I am delighted to see that you are standing up for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You haven’t missed a thing yet! Thanks for doing so much for Star of the Sea. It’s a lovely parish with lovely parishioners. We actually have some parishes in the Bay Area with no altar girls. No flap there either.


  19. Wow! Inspired! I just witnessed a body slam (wrestling term). Touché. La matadora against the bull! Thank you for this blog. I must get the Code of Canon Law for bedtime reading! 🙂 May Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, co-patron with JPII of WMOF, inspire you and guide you. (Feastday was April 28)
    Pax Christi, Joe from Philly

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Canon Law sounds so big wordy but it’s really not. Surprisingly easy to read (must be if I get it) and the Vatican is really nice and has it on their website for free!


  20. I live in Ohio. My new parish has only male altar boys, my old one didn[t. I think it’s better with just boys, although I don’t think having girls is a catastrophe. I don’t know for sure, but I can’t IMAGINE all the other priests in the deanery having a meeting about our parish and its “altar boy crisis.” Oh, and we have an Oratory too. I don’t think any of the priests care one way or the other. It’s very small, just starting up, and located in an old urban church. Why should any of the other parishes, liberal or not, have a problem with that? What people will concern themselves with never ceases to astonish me.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I absolutely love you blog. GOD BLESS YOU for speaking the truth. Please remind those people who want to change the teachings of the Catholic faith that as far as we know, GOD HAS NOT COME DOWN TO EARTH AND SAID IT’S OK TO ACCEPT THE LIBERAL TEACHINGS OF THE WORLD TODAY, AND THAT WE SHOULD TOLERATE ALL OF THE SINS THAT HE (GOD) HAD SAID WAS SINFULL. DID GOD COME TO EARTH AND CHANGED THE CHURCH, I DON’T THINK SO!!! Love your blog and will keep you in my daily prayers. May God Bless you in your continued blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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