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S.F. archbishop-elect apologizes for DUI arrest
The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, predicted that Cordileone’s arrest, while embarrassing, would only draw a response from Rome if it appeared he had a serious substance abuse problem that prevented him from carrying out the archbishop duties.
“The bottom line is there is no real requirement that he resign,” Reese said. “If he is an out-of-control alcoholic who can’t function, that would be an issue, but obviously he has been the bishop of Oakland all these years and he seems to be able to function. Nobody knows if he has a drinking problem or was one fraction over the (blood alcohol) limit.”
Noting that forgiveness is an integral part of the Catholic faith, Reese recalled the 1985 DUI arrest of the late Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Roach, who pleaded guilty and served two days in jail but remained popular in the post for another decade.
Cordileone will have to “explain this to people, and depending on what he does and how it’s perceived, we’ll see how it goes” he said. “It could make him more human.”
While serving in San Diego four years ago, Cordileone was instrumental in devising an initiative to strip same-sex couples of the right to wed in California. He was part of a statewide network of clergy that promoted the measure, known as Proposition 8. Campaign finance records show he personally gave at least $6,000 to back the voter-approved ban.
Since last year, Cordileone has been chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
At a news conference last month, he said he thought the Roman Catholic Church had come a long way in addressing the issue of clergy sex abuse and reiterated his opposition to gay marriage.
“Marriage can only come about through the embrace of a man and a woman coming together,” he said. “I don’t see how that is discriminatory against anyone.”
The archdiocese serves more than 400,000 Catholics in the city of San Francisco and Marin and San Mateo counties. In the post, Cordileone would oversee the bishops in Honolulu, Las Vegas, Oakland, Reno, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Santa Rosa and Stockton.
• Leff reported from San Francisco.
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