Wednesday, November 14, 2012

San Francisco in archbishop Cordileone’s sight

Newly installed archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has arrived with more baggage than San Franciso International airport can handle. Here are some of the more unwieldy pieces of that luggage:

1) “Cordileone first made headlines in 2008 when he helped draft and finance Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage. At the time, he called gay marriage a "plot by the Evil One" to destroy marriage in the modern world.” [Huffington Post]

2) He was in fact the man most responsible for Prop 8, as this article in the East Bay Express explains in detail.

3) Even before his installation as Archbishop of San Francisco, Cordileone issued the following ultimatum to those engaged in pastoral ministry to LGBT persons in San Francisco:

“In an April 12 letter to the association's board, Cordileone stated he would ‘take public action to clarify the status of [Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry] CALGM with regard to authentic Catholic ministry’ should they refuse to take an oath that requested that each member ‘strive to clearly present Catholic doctrine on homosexuality in its fullness’ and ‘profess personally to hold and believe, and practice all that the holy Catholic church teaches, believes and proclaims to be true, whether from the natural moral law or by way revelation from God through Scripture and tradition. "The board has twice rejected the bishop's request."

To place this in context, imagine if he required all Marriage Encounter/Engaged Encounter Couples to take an oath that they practice and publically advocate for Natural Family Planning. The majority of Catholic married couples use artificial contraception.

4) Within one month of his installation as the new archbishop of San Francisco Cordileone issued the following letter:

November 6, was a disappointing day for marriage, as the effort to preserve the unique meaning of marriage in the law lost by only a narrow margin in four states, even though vastly outspent by those who promote the redefinition of marriage.
The meaning of marriage, though, cannot be redefined because it lies within our very nature. No matter what policy, law or judicial decision is put into place, marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and to any children born of their union. It is either this, or it is nothing at all. In view of the fact that every child has a mother and a father, our society either respects the basic right of every child to be raised by his or her mother and father together and so supports the true and unique meaning of marriage for the good of children, or it does not. In a society marked by increasing poverty and family fragmentation, marriage needs to be strengthened, promoted, and defended, not redefined. I hope and pray that political leaders, judges, and all people will seek to honor this foundational and common sense truth of marriage.

To this Jay Barmann comments: “Read it and try to understand how this guy is going to keep living here” in SFist.

In answer to Jay Barmann, Salvatore Cordileone has no desire or intention to remain archbishop of San Francisco for too long. I say this because the archdiocese of San Francisco is not a “red hat” archdiocese. There are no cardinal-archbishops of San Francisco. Well, with the exception of cardinal Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco. Who along with cardinal Roger Mahony, and retired SF archbishop Niederaure all collaborated with Cordileone in passing Prop 8.

However Levada was promoted a cardinal AFTER he resigned as archbishop of San Francisco and was made the head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Holy Office of the Holy Roman Inquisition). This is the number 2 position at the Vatican and is the watchdog organization for doctrinal purity within the church.

This is a critical point in considering the words and actions of archbishop Cordileone. He has no desire or intention to remain in San Francisco; however his performance in this role will facilitate his promotion to become a cardinal. Realistically, this means leaving San Francisco and moving elsewhere. Elsewhere is ideally one of the influential congregations [Departments] in the Vatican bureaucracy. For example, the Sacred Congregation of Bishops, that selects those who will be promoted from the ranks of the priesthood and be made bishops.

Cardinals also act as electors to the next pope and, since Benedict XVI is very elderly, the next papal conclave (election) will happen soon. One doesn’t become a cardinal and promoted to high office in the church on merit alone. In fact, many cardinals have reached high office with very little personal merit, for example cardinal Roger Mahony does not even hold a doctoral degree. However, he and Cordileone have two things essential for advancing an ecclesiastical career: 1) Napoleonic ambition and 2) influential friends in high church office.

Cordileone certainly possess both of these and, unlike Roger, he does hold a doctorate in Canon (church) law. His mentor in fact is cardinal Raymond Burke the head of the Roman Signatura, which is the equivalent of the church’s Supreme Court. Burke is very well connected and an influential ultraconservative in Vatican circles and Cordileone is seen to be his protégé.

Cordileone has had a meteoric rise within the hierarchy from his position as auxiliary (assistant) bishop of San Diego, fueled by the suffering of LGBT people. He was rewarded for his central role in promoting Prop 8 with a promotion to diocesan bishop [CEO] of Oakland. Now Benedict XVI has strategically placed him as archbishop of San Francisco. This is no accident San Francisco is perceived as the heart of the LGBT movement in America and Benedict has sent Cordileone to strike at the heart of our struggle for civil rights, because this pope knows that if the U.S. embraces full civil rights for LGBT people that the world will follow. He is desperately trying to stop that from happening and Cordileone’s past performance promises success in turning back the clock.

For Cordileone even pausing the clock may be enough to earn him a red-dress and a renaissance palazzo in Rome, replete with a chauffer driven Mercedes (no more pesky DUI’s) and a small army of sycophantic staff to tend to every whim and desire. Not to mention, becoming a powerful player in Vatican politics.

A clue as to how Cordileone can pause the clock is found in his letter. Note the passage: "I hope and pray that political leaders, judges, and all people will seek to honor this foundational and common sense truth of marriage." Cordileone knows that the Supreme Court will decided, possibly as early as this month, the fate of Prop 8 and within this next year the so called “Defense of Marriage Act” [DOMA].

The “judges” to whom Cordileone is appealing are: Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Roberts, and most especially, Kennedy. Cordileone’s letter is what is visible in the light of day, imagine what he’s doing behind the scenes.


What can you do? Write, speak out, let your voice be heard by elected officials, editors and online. Vatican intrigue may have a home in Rome, but it most certainly should not have a home in Washington DC.


Tom said...

Fantastic post, Geoff! You nailed it!

Tal said...

Fr. Geoff, great post.

I suggest "Render unto Rome" for those interested in a thought provoking analysis of the Church as politics.

I'm curious to see where this all comes out. Given the Church's current direction, I'm expecting to be excommunicated within the next five years.

Father Geoff said...

Dear Tal,

Popes, cardinals, archbishops, bishops and religious superiors who had knowledge of subordinates who victimized children have not been excommunicated. They not only obstructed justice, but actually facilitated new crimes by reassigning known criminals to new parishes. Not one excommunication of a member of the hiarchy for these immoral and criminal acts. Nor has one been forced to resign their post, been stripped of honors, perks and other privileges of their office.

It is not how the hierarchy has exercised their authority that is damning; but rather, how they have (and continue) to fail to exercise their authority that is damning. Four and one half centuries ago this produced the Protestant Reformation, today it is causing a mass exodus of faithful and creating a new religion, “none.”

Anonymous said...

Excellent comments here. I find it interesting the Cardinal Burke is a mentor to Archbishop Cordileone. One would think that Cardinal Burke would be sympathetic to gay people since he is about as gay as they come. People that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.


Tal said...

Fr. Geoff, never a truer word said. It appears the Curia favors only one word, "obedience," which it seems to believe is the only virtue of worth. As though "obedience" in the face of evil is moral or commendable.

I would've thought the legacy of Nuremberg would've disabused the hierarchy of such a shameful disposition. Yet here we are, while Rome fails time and again to speak out against unspeakable acts of hatred and violence against LGBT. Indeed, the record is clear that the Church tacitly approves it (sometimes even vocally).

I wonder if his Holiness would be so mum if it was adulterous husbands who were set to languish in prison or suffer execution, or rapists or thieves?

My family has given priests, monks and nuns over the last few generations. My mother even seriously contemplated a vocation when young. Now she's left the church and I can't say I'm that far behind.

Tal said...

Fr. Geoff, been a while since we've heard from you. I hope all is well. God bless.

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