On this Ash Wednesday, Star of the Sea Catholic Church and School in San Francisco finds itself embroiled in another controversy, the second in a matter of weeks.
Father Joseph Illo handed a pamphlet to students called “The Examination of Conscience and Catholic Doctrine.” The pamphlet talks about topics that are sexual in nature, such as sodomy and masturbation, and very adult issues, like mercy killing and infidelity.
Eva Kuo has a fifth grade girl attending the school and is angry. She’s also thankful her daughter’s teacher stepped in and did not distribute it.
“Several of the teachers are very vigilant, and they probably confiscated everything before the children saw it,” Kuo said. “I don’t know if she saw it or not. I haven’t asked her.”
Last month, Illo banned girls from being altar servers.
Reached Wednesday morning, Illo said that he's handed this pamphlet out before without any problems. But in hindsight, he said it was probably in appropriate to hand out the material to such young children, in grades two through six. Still, he added, there's nothing in the pamphlet that the Catholic Church doesn't teach.
Parishioners are beginning to wonder if the new priest, who’s only been on the job a few months, is a good fit.
“We’ve had a wonderful community here for many, many years,” Kuo said. “It’s what brought us to the school. We have a wonderful principal, wonderful teachers, wonderful parents, wonderful families of all kinds.”
And should the person creating these school controversies be let go?
“Yes, because we have a love-based caring community here,” Kuo said.
In a separate but related matter, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has also recently come under protests for introducing a new “morality document" for Catholic high school faculty and staff that would require them to “affirm and believe” that sex outside of marriage and homosexual relations are “gravely evil.”
As it relates to the pamphlet, some parents on Sunday plan to wear black to Mass, and instead of putting money in the donation basket they will be putting in notes of opposition instead.