The new Catholic archbishop of San Francisco is an orthodox shepherd on sexual matters and was the main prelate of the Catholic Church who pushed the passage of California’s Proposition 8, the state referendum that defined marriage as a bond between one man and one woman.
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide the fate of Prop. 8, which Californians adopted in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote and which two federal courts have rejected, but it has nothing to say about the appointment of Salvatore Cordileone, the bishop of Oakland.
Defender of Marriage
He was consecrated a bishop in 2002 in San Francisco and took over the Oakland diocese in 2009, and like most bishops is hardly a reactionary conservative. He favors, for instance, the DREAM amnesty for illegal aliens, claiming the bill “closely corresponds to the elements of a just immigration reform that the U.S. bishops have been advocating for many years now.”
The Catholic position on immigration isn’t quite what the bishops represent it to be, but even if it were, Cordileone’s positions on either that matter or other “social justice” issues don’t bother the Left. His defense of marriage does. He was a key force behind Prop 8, and last year, he became head of the Defense of Marriage Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Marriage and the family are the essential coordinates for society,” he said upon his appointment, adding,
How well we as a society protect and promote marriage and the family is the measure of how well we stand for the inviolable dignity and good of every individual in our society, without exception. The consequences for our future — especially that of our nation’s children — cannot be greater and must not be ignored.
Cordileone’s defense of marriage, noted Terence P. Jeffrey of CNSNews.com, earned him the sobriquet “Father of Prop. 8” from the leftist East Bay Express newspaper. As well, Jeffrey noted, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo (a Catholic who lives with his girlfriend, Sandra Lee of Food TV) signed New York’s law legalizing homosexual nuptials last year, Cordileone fired this salvo from his post at USCCB:
Marriage, the union of a man and a woman, forms the foundation of social well-being by promoting love and respect between the two most fundamental representatives of the human community.
The institution of marriage also affirms the vital and unique importance to children of receiving care from both their mother and father together. Making marriage law indifferent to the absence of either sex creates an institutional and cultural crisis with generational ramifications yet to be seen. To eliminate marriage’s very essence — its essence as the union of husband and wife — from its legal definition is to ignore not only basic anthropology and biology but also the purpose of law generally. Law is meant to uphold the common good, not undermine it. Now, New York’s government will be forced to ignore that children have a basic right to be raised by their mother and father together. Also, as demonstrated in other states where marriage redefinition has occurred, officials there will be in a position to retaliate against those who continue to uphold these basic truths. This is a mark of a profoundly unjust law.
Marriage is a fundamental good that must be protected in every circumstance. Exemptions of any kind never justify redefining marriage.
That kind of talk doesn’t set well with the “gay” community, especially when it comes to Cordileone or anyone else who disputes the myriad “rights” homosexuals claim. The homosexual marriage movement is “the ultimate attack of the Evil One on marriage,” Cordileone once said. According to the East Bay Express, when lesbian Oakland councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan “heard that, she retorted, ‘My great-grandparents were rounded up and put in Nazi prison camps by people who used that sort of language.’”
But back to Cordileone’s appointment as the new Catholic prelate in San Francisco.
According to Jeffrey, when a reporter at the news conference announcing the appointment asked about homosexual marriage, Cordileone responded firmly,
Marriage is a foundational good, and one of the cultural challenges all throughout the West, and including here, certainly is the erosion of family life, the break up of families, children growing up without their parents, especially without their fathers, abuse in the home.
These are cultural and moral challenges that we have to confront. Children deserve to have a mother and a father, and that is the greatest gift we can give for children. So, we need to do everything we can to strengthen marriage, understanding that it is a benefit for everyone in society.
A reporter then observed that many homosexuals think that the Catholic Church has “disenfranchised” them, and asked Cordileone whether his arrival in San Francisco would inspire a change in his thinking on homosexual marriage. No, Cordileone replied, it won’t.
Local Comments on Cordileone
Unsurprisingly, the San Francisco Chronicle found several people to denounce the Pope’s new man in the city by the bay.
An advocate for homeless persons who have contracted HIV told the Chronicle that San Francisco is “one of the hearts of the gay liberation story. [Cordileone] may be pastoral, but his work as one of the financial fathers and creators of Prop. 8 is clearly a slap in the face to the gay community.”
Another story quoted a “Catholic leader” named James Salt, the executive director of Catholics United, which bills itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition.”
Salt doesn’t think much of Cordileone: “He is a hard-liner and it sends an unfortunate signal to people who don't agree with everything the Catholic Church believes in but still consider themselves Catholic,” he lamented to the Chronicle. “It’s a sign of the further marginalization of the Catholic Church in our public debate.”
The Chronicle also interviewed a parishioner at Holy Redeemer, a parish in San Francisco’s homosexual Castro District. “We need another Reformation,” the parishioner told the newspaper, which noted that “many of Holy Redeemer's worshipers are gay, and they're proud of their parish's welcoming stance.” “With the plight of women religious and the crackdown on gay marriage, it's the Vatican trying to set its mark down, and it's pretty disgusting,” [the parishioner] said.
Replaces a Conservative?
The Chronicle also noted that Cordileone is “the latest in a string of conservatives to lead Catholics in one of the country's most liberal areas.” That is a reference to Cordileone’s predecessor archbishops, George Niederauer and William Levada, “who in 2005 was elevated from archbishop of San Francisco to become the Vatican's top enforcers of doctrine.”
Niederauer landed in the news in 2007 when he gave Holy Communion, which Catholics believe to the be the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, to two members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the notorious activist group of cross-dressing homosexuals whose motto is, "Go forth and sin some more." Niederauer was celebrating Mass at Holy Redeemer when the offense occurred. In his apology, he said he didn’t notice anything unusual about the two flamboyantly dressed men in nuns' habits wearing white make-up.
Photo of Salvatore Cordileone: AP Images