Yesterday, Salvatore Cordileone, the “Father of Proposition 8,” assumed his new position as Archbishop of San Francisco in front of a crowd of about 2,000 people, including 40 bishops. A group that included the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence protested outside.
“God has always had a way of putting me in my place,” he said. “With the last episode in my life, God has outdone Himself.”
Cordileone pleaded guilty to DUI charges on Monday.
As the New York Times notes, the new archbishop faces a skeptical flock in an archdiocese long known for its outreach to gay and lesbian Catholics.
[Cordileone’s] record on marriage stands in contrast, experts said, to those of predecessors who have tried to accommodate gay residents of San Francisco. Some of those archbishops regularly visited parishes like Most Holy Redeemer [a noted gay-friendly parish] or appointed priests sympathetic to parishes with many gay members.
For nearly two decades, until 1995, the San Francisco Archdiocese was led by Archbishop John R. Quinn, a standard-bearer of liberal Catholicism. He made strategic appointments, naming, for example, a priest who helped bring about Most Holy Redeemer’s transformation from an aging parish to one made up mostly of gay men, said the Rev. Donal Godfrey, a Jesuit priest and author of “Gays and Grays,” a history of Most Holy Redeemer.
In 1997, Archbishop William Levada brokered a deal that allowed the church to comply with a city regulation requiring that benefits be paid to the unmarried partners of people doing business with the city.
The former executive director of San Francisco Catholic Charities, Brian Cahill — who recently wrote a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed titled “Catholic Church wrong on gay nuptials” – asserted in another opinion piece that Archbishop Cordileone faces a clear choice between kissing up to the hierarchy in Rome (who obviously gave him the San Francisco assignment in order to stick a thumb in the eye of the LGBT civil rights movement) and doing his job as the spiritual leader of the more than 400,000 Catholics in his archdiocese:
No one expects him to be silent on church teaching, but he has a choice to make. He can continue to be the aggressive, outspoken leader of the American Catholic bishops in their effort to prevent civil gay marriage, or he can be the shepherd of his flock. He can’t be both, and if he tries, he will fail.
Count this former Catholic skeptical that Cordileone will choose to continue the archdiocesan tradition of outreach to the LGBT community. After all, though his ecclesiastical star isn’t likely to ascend much higher, there’s still the possibility of a red hat in the future if he plays his cards right by pleasing the right people. And if there’s one thing that the leadership of the Catholic Church has made abundantly clear, it’s that homophobic bigotry is both institutional policy and a top priority. Stay tuned, folks.