Catholic church in SF to phase out altar girls

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A Roman Catholic church in San Francisco has become one of a handful around the country to prohibit girls from being altar servers.

The Rev. Joseph Illo decided to train only boys to assist him at Mass after he was assigned to Star of the Sea Church in the Richmond district last year because he thinks the primary purpose of altar service is preparation for the priesthood, which women are ineligible to join, Illo told television station KPIX.

“The specifics of serving at the altar is a priestly function,” Illo said. “And the Catholic church does not ordain women.”

Illo said in a statement posted on the church's website Sunday that boys often lose interest in altar service when the programs are co-ed because “girls generally do a better job.”

“I want to emphasize that we are not discontinuing altar girls because females are somehow incapable or unworthy. Girls are generally more capable and certainly just as worthy as boys,” the statement said. “It is simply giving boys a role they can call their own, and more importantly recognizing the priesthood as a specifically fatherly charism.”

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