06Oct Cordileone is ‘wrong choice’ as archbishop of San Francisco

I try to see the hand of the Spirit in life’s events. Yet I must admit these are tough times to recognize Her work and plans for our church.
Fifty years ago this month the Second Vatican Council opened. It eventually celebrated two fundamental ideas: collegiality and the importance, if not primacy, of the local church.
Five decades later, these ideas are routinely being trampled upon by prelates in Rome who give absolutely no consideration to the desires and cultures of the local churches. To the contrary, some of their actions seem to show contempt for local Catholics.
Consider, for example, the installation of former Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone yesterday as the ninth archbishop of the San Francisco archdiocese. He was plucked out of Oakland by the Vatican almost before he could memorize the names of the parishes of that diocese. The notion a local shepherd could surface from within a local church is anathema to the puppeteers in Rome.
By most reports Cordileone is a decent man. Yet he is the wrong choice to lead the San Francisco archdiocese. His choice, it must be said, is an assault against the idea of local church primacy. His choice shows near contempt for the desires of local San Francisco Catholics.
Cordileone was known for his out-spoken public opposition same-sex marriage, the civil rights goal of the overwhelming majority of San Francisco area residents.
In 2008, then an auxiliary bishop of San Diego, Cordileone reached out to wealthy donors and helped raise $1.5 million to get Proposition 8, a California constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and woman, on the ballot. At the time he told a Catholic radio show that “the ultimate attack of the Evil One is the attack on marriage.”
The San Francisco archdiocese is made up of three counties: San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo. The three counties lead the state in rejection of Proposition 8, with 75 percent voting against it in San Francisco and Marin, and 61 percent expressing their opposition in San Mateo.
The Cordileone choice was not a pleasing choice to the Catholics of the Bay area. It was message to them and not a particularly pastoral one at that. It was a power message: “You are wrong and we are going to set you right.”
If our bishops were not so judgmental, if they were known instead for their pastoral kindnesses and concerns, certainly their influence would grow. Unfortunately, it is Vatican power plays and episcopal edicts that we get. It is the threats to withhold sacraments and demands to exit Catholic properties we hear so often.
But I keep hoping. My hope now is that Cordileone will have a conversion of sorts. It might be too much to expect he could rethink his take on our church’s antiquated and harmful moral theology as it pertains to sex, a theology that unreasonably demands lives of absolute celibacy for all gay and lesbians.
Is our all loving God this pernicious?
However, is it too much to think Cordileone might allow charity and pastoral concerns to be his ultimate guide? Might he allow room for Catholics of varied sexual orientations to come together in community and prayer to celebrate their lives?
Cordileone’s installation came only three days after he pleaded guilty in San Diego County Superior Court to a misdemeanor reckless driving charge that stemmed from an August drunken driving arrest. No doubt, that was a humbling experience. No one is perfect. So it was a chagrined Cordileone who was installed yesterday.
So back to the Spirit. How might she be at work here? Time should tell.

3 Responses

  1. Gene Carr

    This article is most curious. In the second pargraph, the writer asserts that Vatican II affirmed the “importance of, if not the primacy of the local church”. By the fourth paragraph the words “importance of” have been somehow lost and we are treated to the “ideal of local church primacy”. Apparently, truth is just a matter of place; in San Francisco “there ain’t no Ten Commandments and . . .”.
    We are familiar with the sophistry that truth can chop and change with the mere passage of time–‘epistemogical time worship’–I think it called by philosophers of knowledge. Mr Fox proposes a new theory of knowledge; ‘epistemological place worship’.

  2. Sean (Derry)

    Tom Fox of NCR talks about “an assault against the idea of local church primacy”, which, he seems to imply, means that if the majority of citizens in a county believe that something is a good idea (in this case same-sex marriage), then the local Catholic Church should change its doctrine to reflect and conform to the opinions of the majority. As if the doctrines of a local Church were somehow independent of and different from that of the whole Church.
    Am I really reading his article correctly? (seriously).
    So what happens in a community where the majority of residents think abortion is a good idea, does Tom Fox advocate that the local Bishop should provide an abortion service? What about in a community where the “desires and cultures” of the residents involves taking drugs. Should the priests there distribute drugs because the people think it is good for them?
    Is it not the role of the Church to lead those locked into a ‘culture’ of sin out of their darkness and into the light rather that pretending that nothing is sinful or harmful to the soul?
    And poor Tom is so shocked and stunned that the Vatican should appoint an Archbishop who has the audacity to believe that marriage is between a man and woman.
    I have a dog that sometimes likes to eat fish and chases the occasional mouse. Should we now change the definition of cat to also include my dog?
    My dog has feelings too you know.

  3. Joe O'Leary

    The only hope for the Catholic church now is vital local churches, especially parishes. Mrs McAleese’s brilliant book, which I am reading and rereading, shows terrific confusion in the macrostructure of the Church, confusion due to the vagueness of Vatican II’s statements on collegiality and the ruthlessness with which the Curia have grabbed control to an unprecedented degree, profiting from that vagueness. So when their is confusion at the top, we need to go back to “two or three gathered together” and rediscover there what churchhood could mean.

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