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Concerns raised after San Francisco church shares misinformation on COVID-19

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Several Catholic churches in San Francisco are causing problems in the city by not following health orders, as some have continued to host indoor services and host large weddings.

Now the latest church to the land in the spotlight during the pandemic is Star of the Sea Church in the Richmond District, where its leader is putting out misinformation about the coronavirus saying news reports about COVID-19 are “largely unreal”.

The information went out in an opinionated news letter to churchgoers this week where Father Joseph Illo plays down the coronavirus, and essentially says people should be coming to mass.

The controversial newsletter from Father Illo begins as follows: “The only reason to become a Catholic is to become a saint, but we are more concerned about ‘safety’ than sanctity”, referring to the pandemic.

The letter goes on to imply that this philosophy will hurt people, and they should put church services above their health.

Once you get about halfway through… you’re slapped with this… Father Illo writes:

COVID is real, but please know that the news reports about COVID are largely unreal. Actual hospitalization numbers easily obtainable on hospital websites will show a much less alarming picture. We cannot ignore the fact that the glaring discrepancy between media reports and hospital reports is taking place in an election year. “

“I pray for him and his disciple that one would give those kind of opinionated statements, that obviously are not factual,” Dr. Amos C. Brown said.

Dr. Brown is the senior pastor at the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, which has remained closed since shelter in place orders in March.

Brown says it’s irresponsible to put others in harm’s way by playing down the seriousness of the coronavirus.

“Doesn’t speak well of people who claim to be spiritual and religious,” he said. “It is more like their operation is a hustle and a self-serving entity.”

And this isn’t the first time Father Illo’s been in other media reports.

Last year when the school announced K-8 classes were canceled due to declining enrollment at the school, many parents blamed Pastor Illo, saying he had aggressive disagreements with Star of the Sea parents.

Amos says he’s concerned about leadership in the city after seeing the recent newsletter and learning information that Saints Peter and Paul church in North Beach was holding large indoor services and weddings.

“Any faith leader who defies science, common sense and shows no concern for the welfare of others is not a follower of Jesus,” Amos said.

We reached out to the Archdiocese of San Francisco but have not heard back yet.

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