Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, who has a strong record of opposition to LGBT issues, to head the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which has a strong community of LGBT Catholics.
The San Francisco Chronicle describes Cordileone this way:
“Salvatore Cordileone, 56, organized religious leaders and helped raise significant sums of money to get Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California, on the ballot and spoke forcefully in support of it. He is also chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
“In his first statements after the Vatican’s announcement, Cordileone, the current bishop of Oakland, touched on a range of topics, from cultural diversity to immigration reform. But reporters barraged him with questions about same-sex marriage. His response was resolute.
” ‘Marriage is the union of a man and a woman, because children can only come about with the embrace of a man and a woman together,’ he said. ‘I don’t see how that’s discriminatory against anyone.’ “
Cordileone recently required board members of the Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries to sign a loyalty oath, but the members have refused to do so.
The Chronicle also reported reactions to the appointment:
“San Francisco is ‘one of the hearts of the gay liberation story,’ said Michael Harank, 59, a lifelong Catholic who founded an independent Catholic agency in Oakland for homeless people with HIV. “He 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.” . . .
“The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said the appointments of increasingly conservative bishops in the United States started with Pope John Paul II, who served from 1978 to 2005.
“Though it would be impossible to find a Catholic bishop in favor of same-sex marriage, Reese said conservatism today includes a particular focus on marriage.
“Clearly, the pope and the Vatican are very concerned about the issue of same-sex marriage and are very opposed to it, and that’s reflected by the kinds of bishops that are being appointed in the United States,’ he said.”
The San Jose Mercury News reported another comment which highlights that this appointment was made because of LGBT issues:
“Charles Martel, president of Catholics for Marriage Equality, said Friday that he believes Cordileone was appointed to combat the acceptance of gay marriage here and abroad. ‘They see this as ground zero,’ he said.”
New Ways Ministry‘s Executive Director Francis DeBernardo released the following statement about Cordileone’s appointment:
“Bishop Cordileone’s record on LGBT issues has not been welcoming. He will have to learn to be more sensitive and pastoral as he takes over in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which has a large LGBT community, and very active and organized groups and parishes of LGBT Catholics. The experience of working with such a vibrant and diverse community can help him to grow personally and pastorally.
“The Catholic Church in any community is so much more than who the local bishop is. Lay Catholics in San Francisco will need to work with Bishop Cordileone to let them know what kind of leadership that they want from him. If he does not heed the prayerful requests of faithful Catholics there, the church in San Francisco will be greatly diminished.”
Noting Cordileone’s recent pressure on the Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries, a blogger on San Francisco’s KQED radio station website cited Bernard Schlager, executive director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley:
“As Archbishop of San Francisco, Cordileone could put similar pressure on individual parishes that have welcomed gays and lesbians, Schlager said. . . .
“As archbishop, Cordileone could force priests to sermonize against gay marriage, too.
“Schlager doesn’t think he’ll do that, because it would be too controversial.
“But Thomas Sheehan, a professor of religious studies at Stanford University, isn’t so sure the archbishop will refrain from meddling in priestly business on LGBT or other issues. ‘He could well demand that priests reinforce the church’s teaching on contraception,’ Sheehan said.
“But ultimately Sheehan thinks the effects on individual Catholics will be modest. ‘I doubt it will affect how people practice,’ he said. ‘People look less and less to the hierarchy.’
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry