New bishop of San Francisco draws support, concern

The installation of Salvatore Joseph Cordileone on Thursday as the new archbishop of San Francisco has drawn support and concern, according to an Associated Press report.

Cordileone, a native Californian who served as bishop of Oakland for the last three-and-a-half years, is known to be a fierce defender of the Catholic Church’s positions on homosexuality in general and same-sex marriage in particular.

The report said the prelate’s stance on the issue has endeared him to Catholic conservatives but worried more liberal Catholics and other faith communities that welcome gay, lesbian and transgender members.

Cordileone was one of those behind California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in 2008. He is also head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ subcommittee charged with opposing efforts to legalize gay unions.

The AP report said Pope Benedict XVI’s selection of Cordileone on July 27 to replace retiring Archbishop George Niederauer also has raised eyebrows outside of California.

“The most salient thing I can tell you is that the American bishops and archbishops I spoke with in the wake of the appointment, not seen widely as a progressive group, were stunned,” said Rocco Palmo, a respected church commentator and blogger based in Philadelphia.

He said the appointment was seen as a “provocative gesture by Rome” to name a “combative” traditionalist to oversee the nation’s gay capital.

Cordileone, meanwhile, said he wants to be seen as more than a one-issue man and looks forward to getting to know the 91 parishes in the archdiocese.


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