Saturday, May 14, 2005

New Bully Pulpit

Not all the extremists in San Francisco wear tutus while rollerblading or sleep with their rifles. One just became the first American to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The recent past Prefect, the Pope formally known as Joseph Ratzinger, appointed him, the Vatican announced on Friday the 13th.

San Francisco Archbishop William Levada, 68, has long been in Benedict XVI's mold. Both are strongly anti-reproductive choice, anti-homosexual, and of course, anti-same-sex marriage. The office basically is the interpreter of doctrine for those who might have any ambiguity or doubt.

However, he can be very slick and diplomatic. While he angered many with his let-them-eat-wafers attitude during the clergy abuse allegations, he also defused a gay-rights issue in heavily left-wing and homosexual-friendly San Francisco. The city squeezed Catholic Charities there, which is not exempt from employment law, to offer benefits to domestic partners of city employees. The Archbishop was savvy enough to expand health care to all household members of a city employee, thus turning the issue from laws and rights to health.

No one can know yet what lead he will give from this powerful office when it comes to U.S. dioceses. He's a heavy hitter now. When he speaks, bishops will listen.

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