San Francisco archbishop sets off to take up Pope's old job

Archbishop William Levada farewelled San Francisco on Saturday, as he heads for Rome, where he will take over what is being described as the "No. 2 post" in the Catholic Church, the job of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, previously held by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Reuters reports that Pope Benedict appointed Levada, 69, to succeed him in the Church's top doctrinal position, in May. Benedict himself held the post for 23 years.

Outside the San Francisco hotel where Levada was to be feted by 2300 guests at a $A194-a-plate dinner, a small group of protesters from SNAP, a US sexual abuse victims group, urged Levada to show that he wants to protect children from abuse.

"We have done our best to reach out" to the victims of abuse, Levada said at news conference before the dinner, praising the work of his diocese staff. "I leave San Francisco with a good conscience."

Levada will become the highest ranking American in the history of the Church, and because the prefect is traditionally a cardinal, Levada will likely be elevated to that rank when Benedict appoints new cardinals, probably later this year.

Asked on Saturday what the biggest challenge will be in his new job, Levada said it will be to help people to see "the whole plan of God" for salvation."

During his 10 years in San Francisco, Levada, a fourth generation Californian, wrestled with controversial issues challenging the Church like same-sex marriage and priestly abuse of children.

He clashed with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a Catholic, over his decision last year to permits gays and lesbians to marry, a move later overturned by the California Supreme Court.

San Francisco archbishop prepares for Vatican post (Reuters 14/8/05)

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Archdiocese of San Francisco

Ratzinger replacement stresses value of pastoral experience (CathNews 7/6/05)
Pope appoints San Francisco archbishop to fill his old shoes (CathNews 16/5/05)

New York priest resigns cathedral post, denies allegation of affair (Catholic News Service 12/8/05)
Priest quits over affair (The Sun-Herald 14/8/05)
Archbishop Levada waives immunity, will testify on Portland (Catholic World News 11/8/05)
U.S. Archbishop Subpoenaed Ahead of Mass (Leading The Charge 7/8/05)
Archbishop Levada waives immunity, will testify on Portland (Catholic World News 11/8/05)
Archbishop prepares to leave San Francisco, is served with subpoena (Catholic News Service 8/8/05)
Archbishop Levada prepares to leave for Rome amid prayers and few protesters (Catholic News Agency 7/8/05)
Support and protest mark Archbishop Levada's farewell (Catholic World News 7/8/05)
Archbishop Levada postpones testimony in sex-abuse case (Catholic World News 2/8/05)
The First Sentence from Prefect Levada Makes the Legion Tremble (Catholic Online 29/7/05)
An American assumes Benedict's previous post in the Vatican (Inside the Vatican 17/6/05)

15 Aug 2005