Prop. 8 backer to head Catholic Church in San Francisco
Next week, a key player in the passage of Proposition 8 — a man who has decried the “contraceptive mentality” of modern life — will become the leader of the Catholic Church here in the city that thrust same-sex marriage onto the national stage, the birthplace of the Summer of Love.
Supporters view Archbishop-designate Salvatore Cordileone, the 56-year-old son of a commercial fisherman, as a charming and brilliant defender of the faith. He is fluent in Spanish and Italian, has been known to sing vintage TV theme songs in Latin and is a deep believer in a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
But many gay and lesbian Catholics worry that they will be marginalized after Cordileone’s arrival. Oasis California, the Episcopal Church’s gay ministry, convened a meeting recently at a Castro District bar to discuss how spiritual people should respond to the “architect of Prop. 8″ coming to town.
Cordileone’s appointment “re-emphasizes the Vatican’s concern, and the U.S. bishops’ concern, about gay marriage,” said Father Thomas J. Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center. “Even in a city like San Francisco, they’re willing to appoint someone who … has a high state and national profile on this issue.
“They’re serious,” Reese said, “and they’re not going to back down.”
During a July news conference, Cordileone was circumspect when discussing the “cultural challenges” his new diocese would present — which he said revolved around “issues of family life and, essentially, come down to our understanding of the human person, the purpose of our human sexuality, what God calls us to do and how he calls us to live and how he calls us to love.”
But in a recent interview at the headquarters of the Oakland diocese, where he has served as bishop for three years, Cordileone was more direct: Gays and lesbians who are in sexual relationships of any kind, he said, should not receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, the central ritual of Catholic life.
“If we misuse the gift of sexuality, we’re going to suffer the consequences,” he said, “and I firmly believe we are suffering the consequences.”
The prelate’s light-filled office overlooks Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Just beyond the graceful urban estuary, he said, are “100 blocks of inner-city neighborhoods. Those are fatherless children.” [More]