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Anne Hendershott and Christopher White, both regular contributors to Catholic World Report, explain to readers of USA Today why the fear-mongering over the installation of Archbishop Cordileone in San Francisco misrepresents the new archbishop and the teachings of the Catholic Church:

While most Catholics celebrate the arrival of the Most Rev.Salvatore Cordileone, the new Archbishop of San Francisco, gay and lesbian Catholics have protested his appointment. One of the leading proponents of Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, Archbishop Cordileone is viewed as the enemy by many within the gay community.

Earlier this week, The New York Times chronicled his arrival with the headline: "San Francisco's New Archbishop Worries Gay Catholics." Calling the Archbishop the "top anti-gay" in the Church, those interviewed for The Times story are expecting the worst.

They shouldn't. Less than 20 years ago these same kinds of headlines warned of the same threats to the gay Catholic community in San Francisco when Archbishop John Quinn's tumultuous 18-year tenure came to an end. Archbishop Quinn — who resigned under pressure early 10 years earlier than the proscribed age of 75 — had long argued for decreased papal authority with more control granted to Bishops.

In reporting the news of Quinn's resignation in 1995, the San Francisco Chronicle warned: "Archbishop of San Francisco to Resign/His Successor is a Conservative." Cautioning Catholics that the Most Rev. William Levada, then, a Portland prelate, was a "theological conservative," the Chronicle published interviews with Catholic progressives who declared that Archbishop Quinn was unhappy with the conservative choice to replace him.

But, progressive fears were unfounded. Archbishop Levada was supportive of those within the Catholic community that struggle with same sex attraction — encouraging all Catholics to be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church requiring that homosexual persons be treated with "respect, compassion and sensitivity." And, although Archbishop Levada later became the principal editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which reinforced Catholic teachings on what the Church views as the "disordered nature of homosexual acts," he is fondly remembered in San Francisco as one who treated gay men and lesbian women with respect, while never compromising church teaching.

Read the entire piece on the USA Today website.

 
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Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
 
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