New S.F. Archbishop Is Anti-Gay Crusader Who Led Fight for Prop. 8

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Archbishop-elect Salvatore Cordileone

In one week, half a million Bay Area Catholics will have a new archbishop, one who believes a fair number of his flock shouldn’t receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, central to life as a Catholic, much less have the right to get married.

Archbishop-designate Salvatore Cordileone, named to his new post by Pope Benedict XVI a month ago, was a prime mover behind the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 in 2008. Prop. 8 campaign manager Frank Shubert says Cordileone was instrumental in rounding up major donations for the successful political campaign when it was stumbling and influenced other religious leaders in the cause.

Cordileone chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Promotion and Defense of Marriage subcommittee. As archbishop, he will tend to the needs of Catholics in 91 parishes spread across the counties of San Francisco, Mateo and Marin.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Cordileone explained that the only way gays and lesbians could remain in the church’s good standing was to stop having sex, and speculated on what God may have been thinking when he conveyed the doctrine to the pope.      

“Maybe it's the particular way God is calling them to holiness,” Cordileone said. “It takes a lot of hard work and spiritual discipline. Certainly our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters need to be supported in living out their call to holiness.”

Gay activists in San Francisco, a city known for its liberal embrace of diversity, expressed dismay and anger at the archbishop’s appointment and predicted growing conflict with the church over its policies.

The 56-year-old San Diego native became bishop of his hometown’s diocese in 2002 before Pope Benedict gave him the same post in Oakland seven years later. Earlier this year, Cordileone issued an ultimatum to the national Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry, based in Oakland, that he would declare the group “not authentically Catholic” if it it didn’t endorse tradional theology within a year.

The archbishop-elect―who likes sports, is a fan of jazz and plays alto sax―was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving last month after being pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint in San Diego. He apologized a few days later for his transgression (“I pray that God, in His inscrutable wisdom, will bring some good out of this.”) and is scheduled to appear in court five days after his installation.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

In Tolerant San Francisco, Prop. 8 Backer to Head Catholic Church (by Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times)

Bishop Salvatore Cordileone (Catholic Answers)

San Francisco Archbishop-Elect in DUI Arrest (by Elliot Spagat, Associated Press)

Catholics See Challenges for Archbishop (by David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle)

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