It must have been a slow news day in San Francisco, since it appears this led the local news last night:
A Bay Area church is now under fire over a controversial new policy saying only boys can be altar servers.
The new practice is making waves at the century old church Star of the Sea. Since the ’70s, they’ve used altar girls during masses.
The well-known Richmond District church also has a school serving about 230 kids. When the new priest banned girls from being altar servers, it generated outrage among parents and parishioners alike. The priest admits some parishioners even left the church.
“It’s disturbing,” said churchgoer Connie Porciuncula.
There’s more at the link.
Seems to me KPIX—or someone at the parish who decided to call the station—is making a lot out of a little, especially if (as the pastor indicates) attendance and financial support is up.
And, in typical local news fashion, the story plays up conflict, without adding context. They don’t even explain very well the rationale behind this decision; there’s just some vague language about priests being men and hyperbolic rhetoric “the future of the Church” being at stake. It might have been nice—not to mention, balanced— to include one or two parents who like this idea and support the pastor. Instead, it plays out like it’s one priest v. everybody else.
To learn more about the parish, check out its website.
And watch the video report below.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
As a permanent deacon in SF, I’d like to add some context to the story of the altar girls being banned at Star of the Sea.
The Pastor at Star of the Sea is from outside SF and arrived for the first time a few months ago. He made headlines a few years ago by telling his parishioners if they voted for Obama they needed to go to confession. He and another out-of-town priest have begun something called the Oratory of St. Philip at Star of the Sea. Read their bulletin…his message talks about the perversity of the local area…he’s here to “fix” us. They were invited by our Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. If attendance is up at Star of the Sea, which I doubt, it’s because out-of-towners are drawn to its conservative bent…he hasn’t increased neighborhood participation.
This IS a big deal. It’s the sort of thing that will damage our local Church. This Pastor is not from the area and does NOT represent the views of the local Church. His policies are arbitrary, sexist, mysoginistic, and not based on any sort of fact or research. He is hurting our Church.
Please tell your readers that he and his policies are NOT representative of SF, a city of inclusiveness.