Pope appoints San Francisco archbishop to fill his old shoes

Pope Benedict XVI on Friday announced that Archbishop William Joseph Levada of San Francisco is succeeding him as Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Catholic News Agency reports that Archbishop William Joseph Levada, 68, was first appointed an Official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican in 1976. During his six years of service, he continued teaching theology part-time as an Instructor at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He returned to the US in 1982, and was subsequently made Archbishop of Portland, and later Archbishop of San Francisco.

Since his ordination as a Bishop, he has been active on many committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as on the governing boards of the Catholic University of America, the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the National Catholic Bioethics Centre. From 1986 to 1993 he served on the Editorial Committee of the Vatican Commission for a Catechism of the Catholic Church; he authored the Catechism's Glossary, which was published in the English-language second edition of the Catechism. In 1997, he participated in the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America, and was subsequently named to its post-Synodal Council.

The subject of Levada's dissertation was "The Infallible Church Magisterium and the Natural Moral Law," examining how the magisterium understands natural law, and especially its binding force. Levada reviewed a range of theological opinions and drew what one observer described as "balanced, judicious" conclusions.

The National Catholic Reporter's John Allen comments that "given the way that moral questions, especially on sexual issues and biotechnology, are among the most contentious matters the doctrinal congregation handles, it's a background that would serve Levada well".

Allen suggests that because Levada has not spent his career as a professional theologian, he has not developed a deep specialisation in any one area. A theologian in Rome described him as a very capable "general practitioner, and Australian Jesuit teaching at the Gregorian, Fr Gerald O'Collins, described him as "an extremely decent human being".

Archbishop William Joseph Levada, new head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Catholic News Agency 13/5/05)
John L Allen: Levada to head Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (National Catholic Reporter 13/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Archdiocese of San Francisco
Archbishop William Joseph Levada (catholic-hierarchy.org)

San Francisco Archbishop tipped for Pope's old job (CathNews 5/5/05)

Other Pontifical Acts (Vatican Information Service 13/5/05)
Fellow bishops proud Archbishop Levada named Vatican's doctrinal head (Catholic News Service 13/5/05)
US archbishop to head Vatican doctrinal congregation (Catholic World News 13/5/05)
The Forum: Archbishop Levada: the Pope's surprising choice (Catholic World News 13/5/05)
Pope chooses American for Vatican post (Los Angeles Times 14/5/05)
New Vatican Enforcer Criticized Over Abuse (The Guardian/Associated Press 15/5/05)
Vatican watchdog is conservative from liberal city (Reuters 13/5/05)
Pope appoints American to head doctrinal office (Reuters 13/5/05)
Levada seen as too conservative by liberals and too liberal by conservatives (Spirit Daily 14/5/05)
Archbishop Levada New Prefect for Doctrinal Congregation (Zenit 13/5/05)

16 May 2005