Official biography of Archbishop Levada

Source: FSSPX News


The archbishop of San Francisco, Mgr. William Levada, aged 68, was appointed by Benedict XVI on May 13 as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Of Portuguese and Irish descent, William Joseph Levada was born on June 15, 1936, in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, at Long Beach in the United States. He spent four years in the seminary of Los Angeles before being sent to the American College in Rome in 1958. He then studied theology at the Gregorian Pontifical University and was ordained priest in St. Peter’s Basilica in December 1961, at the age of twenty five. A short time after his ordination, he obtained a doctorate in theology. He spent five years in the archdiocese of Los Angeles, working in a parish and teaching in high school and at university, and then at the seminary. He is also the first director of continuous formation for the clergy of the archdiocese, a responsibility he has carried out for the past six years.

 In 1976, Fr. Levada, on the recommendation of the president of the American Bishop’s Conference, Mgr. Joseph Bernadin, was appointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. During the six years he then spent in Rome, he continued to teach theology at the Gregorian. Then, in 1982, the archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Timothy Manning recalled him to California, where he was named director of the Bishops Conference from California to Sacramento. Also appointed auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, he was consecrated on May 12, 1983.

 In July 1986, Bishop Levada was promoted to archbishopric of Portland in Oregon. During his nine years in Portland, he carried out pastoral work for vocations and worked on the expansion of the seminary, where he taught ecclesiology. He was in charge of the reorganization of Catholic charitable organizations and the Hispanic ministry of the archdiocese. He created a foundation and a house for retired priests and supervised the restoration of Saint Mary’s Cathedral. In 1986, he was appointed chancellor and moderator of the diocesan curia by the new archbishop of Los Angeles, for whom he took charge of the reorganization of the diocese and the curia.

 In October 1995, Bishop Levada was named archbishop and coadjutor of San Francisco, the city of which he became archbishop in December of the same year. Since then, Bishop Levada worked hard for his diocese. Among the questions he had to confront was that of the rights of homosexuals, while at the same time respecting the teaching of the Catholic Church; equally the problem of the pastoral use of churches closed since the earthquake of 1989. He also created a foundation for Catholic education, in order to help underprivileged families wishing to give their children a Catholic education; he also relaunched the Catholic weekly diocesan newspaper.

 After his episcopal ordination, Bishop Levada was a member of several committees of the National Conference of American Bishops, just as he has taken part in the work of directing American Catholic universities and the National Center for Bioethics. Between 1986 and 1993, he was the only American bishop on the editorial committee of the Vatican Commission of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church.

Bishop Levada worked on the drafting of the catechism and on its American version with Cardinal Ratzinger.

 In 1997, Bishop Levada participated in the assembly of the special Synod for America and took part in the post-synodal council. In 2000, he participated in the Anglican-Catholic dialogue in the United States. He has also been responsible since November 2003, for the committee on doctrine of the American Bishop’s Conference.

 The future Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will take up his post in September. Archbishop William Joseph Levada will, however, go to Rome at the beginning of June in order to meet the pope and the members of his dicastery. He will thus make his first general survey of the dossiers of the Congregation of which he will be henceforth responsible. The American archbishop has already had a meeting with the Sovereign Pontiff on May 3. The successor of Bishop Levada at the head of the archdiocese of San Francisco has not yet been named.

 During next Summer, Bishop Levada will have to prepare his succession in the United States, while at the same time following the activities of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. No major decisions concerning the most important dicastery of the Holy See may be taken before his definitive arrival in Rome.