Who is Archbishop Joseph Levada? (Unofficial biography)

Source: FSSPX News

 

Analysis by Philip Lawler on Catholic World News Site

Philip Lawler is editor of this Conciliar Catholic website.

May, 14 2005

(…)

A gift for compromise

In nearly 19 years as a metropolitan, how has Archbishop Levada distinguished himself? Within the US bishops’
conference he is seen as moderately conservative: a prelate who will uphold the doctrine of the Church without condemning those who oppose Church teachings.

Writing in 1994 about the reception of the new  "Catechism of the Catholic Church"  , Archbishop Levada rejected the notion that Catholics are free to pick and choose among Church teachings. He wrote:

A "cafeteria" approach to the faith has no basis in Scripture or the Church’
s tradition. Indeed, it has always been the case that rejection ofeven one of the doctrines of our faith implies a rupture with the visible communion of one faith and one Church,"

Such a forthright approach to the integrity of Catholic teaching would seem to presage conflict between the archbishop and the public leaders of San Francisco, a city where liberal politicians (including many who identify themselves as Catholics) and homosexual activists often control the public agenda. But as Archbishop of San Francisco, Levada has not become a focal point of public controversy.

On the contrary, in 1996 the archbishop found an inventive way to avoid a confrontation with San Francisco lawmakers over a new city ordinance designed to benefit homosexuals. When city officials enacted a new policy, requiring all the firms that did business with the city to provide spousal benefits to the "domestic partners" of their employees, the offices of Catholic Charities were faced with the prospect of losing crucial government funding if they did not adopt a policy that would, in effect, recognize same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriage. But Archbishop Levada brokered a compromise, allowing employees of Church-related groups to designate any individual-- a parent, sibling, friend, or indeed a homosexual lover-- as the recipient of benefits that had previously been reserved for spouses.

The archbishop defended this policy as a way of extending employment benefits without recognizing same-sex unions. But other American prelates rejected the compromise as an unnecessary concession to the gay-rights lobby, and a missed opportunity to take a potentially unpopular stand in defense of a fundamental moral principle. Moreover, by accepting this compromise arrangement in 1996-- relatively early in the nationwide drive by homosexual activists to secure spousal benefits-- the San Francisco archdiocese put pressure on other local churches and Catholic institutions to accept similar compromises.

Last year, when another public controversy arose within the American Church, over the status of Catholic politicians who support unrestricted abortion, Archbishop Levada again sought to maintain doctrinal principles without incurring public wrath. In a June 2004 statement on the reception of Holy Communion by politicians who support abortion, the archbishop wrote:

"Can a politician be guilty of formal cooperation in evil? If the person intends to promote the killing of innocent life, s/he would be guilty of such sinful cooperationâ? Should every Catholic politician who has voted for an unjust law favoring abortion be judged to have this intention? I hope not."

With his heavy emphasis on the intention of the politician who support a policy of unrestricted abortion, the archbishop left room for the arguments advanced by prominent Catholics who claim to be  personally opposed to abortion, but bound to vote for the legalized killing on constitutional grounds. And on the sharper question of whether a pro-abortion politician should be denied access to the Eucharist, Archbishop Levada again took a nuanced stance. He stated clearly that such individuals should not receive Communion. But if they violated that precept, and approached the altar, he suggested:

"With regard to Catholic politicians, the prudent practice for ministers of Holy Communion would be to refer any question in regard to their suitability to receive the sacrament to the bishop of the diocese."

In that June 2004 article the archbishop did not explicitly answer the question of how a bishop should respond to such inquiries. But later, in an interview with the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin", he did address that issue by saying, "Many of us as bishops are newly committed to seeking a path of dialogue on these areas." Implicitly rejecting the more direct approach taken by several other American prelates, he continued: "You don’
t start that path of dialogue by telling people you are going to refuse them Communion."

During the past decade, then, Archbishop Levada has taken a clear public stand on the two public issues that have brought most down the greatest social pressure upon the American hierarchy: the campaign for homosexual rights and the dispute over administering Communion to pro-abortion politicians. In each case, the San Francisco archbishop found a way to avoid a direct clash and to ease pressure against the Church. But in each case, too, his escape from the heat of the dispute came at a price; his stance undermined the positions taken by other American prelates who had chosen to take a clear stand and risk a direct clash with the popular culture. "Confronting the scandal"

No public issue, of course, has caused more scrutiny of the American hierarchy than the sex-abuse scandal. And since the CDF is charged with responsibility for handing the discipline of pedophile priests, it makes sense carefully to examine Archbishop Levada’
s performance on that front.

At the American bishops’
June 2002 meeting in Dallas, with the sex-abuse scandal dominating the agenda, Archbishop Levada rose to emphasize that negligent diocesan bishops, as well as pedophile priests, bore responsibility for the crisis. He observed: "We are suffering for the mistakes of bishops and administrators who did not place the future protection of children above their desire to protect the reputation and service of priests who had proven themselves unfaithful to their duties."

How has the archbishop himself handled the sex-abuse issue? The Portland archdiocese, which he led from 1986 to 1996, is now bankrupt because of payments won in court by abuse victims. Several of the devastating lawsuits against the archdiocese involved priests who were restored to parish work by Archbishop Levada after having been accused of molesting children, or protected from criminal prosecution when their misdeed came to the archbishop’
s attention.

In San Francisco, too, the archbishop has been roundly denounced by sex-abuse victims for what they see as his uncooperative attitude in efforts to identify and punish clerical abusers. Virtually every bishop in America has heard such complaints from the lawyers for sex-abuse victims, whose efforts to gain access to all chancery files inevitably clash with the Church’
s need for confidentiality. But some of the criticism raised against Archbishop Levada has also come from neutral parties. For example James Jenkins, a layman chosen by the archbishop to chair an independent review board examining child-abuse allegations, eventually resigned in protest, charging that Levada had stymied the work of the board through "deception, manipulation, and control."

 One particularly telling indication of the San Francisco archbishop’
s attitude toward sex-abuse crisis can be seen in his response to the scandal that shook the neighboring Santa Rosa diocese. In 1999, Bishop Patrick Ziemann of Santa Rosa was forced to resign when it came to light that he had blackmailed a priest to serve as his on-call homosexual partner. Archbishop Levada stepped into the breach as temporary apostolic administrator of the Santa Rosa diocese, where he forced to deal not only with the former bishop’
s tawdry history of sexual misconduct, but also with profligate spending that had left the little diocese with a massive $30 million debt.

As Bishop Ziemann left Santa Rosa in disgrace, Archbishop Levada pointedly refrained from condemning him; on the contrary he asked the faithful to join him "in thanking [Ziemann] for the energy and gifts he has shared far and wide." Resisting efforts for public disclosure of diocesan records, Archbishop Levada announced that the diocesan debt was the result of "poor investment decisions." At a public forum in the Santa Rosa diocese in February 2000, the archbishop rebuked laymen who called for criminal prosecution of Bishop Ziemann. "It’
s very inappropriate to call for the bishop to go to jail," he said.

"An American at CDF"

In his response to the sex-abuse crisis Archbishop Levada has shown a distinct bias toward protecting clerics-- and especially his fellow bishops-- rather than satisfying victims and reassuring the faithful. In his response to public debates on Church teachings, he has shown an instinct for tactical diplomacy rather than bold confrontation. Presumably Pope Benedict XVI felt that this knack for compromise was a desirable quality, to be sought in the new prefect for the CDF.

In selecting his own successor, the Holy Father could have tapped any prelate in the Catholic world. Early speculation about the likely candidates for the post had centered on Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, the principal editor of the  Catechism, who is already one of the most prominent members of the College of Cardinals. The Pope might also have considered Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa, who served with him as secretary of the CDF, or Archbishop Angelo Amato, who holds the post of CDF secretary today.

Instead the Pontiff chose an archbishop who, while he is respected within the American bishops’
conference, is not widely known outside the US. Was Pope Benedict deliberately looking for an American to head the CDF? Reports that Chicago’
s Cardinal Francis George was also considered for the post lend credence to that theory.

But  "why" would the Pope want an American prefect? The question is based on speculation, and so any answer will be speculative, too. But it seems plausible that Benedict XVI-- perhaps prompted by ther prelates, perhaps even responding to discussions among the cardinals before and during the conclave-- recognized that he has frequently been perceived as a stern doctrinal enforcer, and should seek out a different sort of personality to work with him at the CDF. An American prelate, bred in a pluralist society and experienced in managing dissent, might be able to offset complaints about Vatican intransigence.

Whatever the reasons that lie behind his surprise selection, Archbishop Levada is likely to bring a very different style of leadership to the CDF.. In the process, he may also set a markedly different and unexpected new tone for the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

  

Fr. Eugene Heidt and Archbishop Levada (A diocesan priest’
s experience)

 Excerpted from “Priest Where Is Thy Mass, Mass Where Is Thy Priest.”

Q: So obedience is not really an objection against saying the traditional Mass, when you consider that it’s not forbidden by the Church?

Fr. H: Correct. There is no question of disobedience involved here, no way.

Q: How did your convictions about the old Mass sit with the Chancery?

Fr. H: Things just got worse. A couple of years before, I had written a letter about what they called the “Stewardship Council.” That was a program that they used to raise money for the operation of the Archdiocese. I told the people in the parish that we couldn’t contribute to that. I black-balled the “Stewardship Council”!

Q: Why did you black-ball it?

Fr. H: Because of the immoral causes that they were promoting. I named some of them in the letter I wrote. But I have to go back a little bit to explain some of this. It all came to a head with this question of the money for the “Stewardship Council” – that’s what really got Archbishop Levada going. I remember coming home from meeting with him on one of those occasions. I said, “You know, that man isn’t Catholic. The Archbishop is not Catholic!” I was telling the whole parish this. No wonder he got so angry with me, in the end of it all!

When Archbishop Levada had first come to the Archdiocese, I was the first one to have an appointment with him after he was installed. I went in there for an hour and a half, and I poured out my heart to him, because I was told he was a good, traditional, orthodox bishop, and that he was going to straighten this Archdiocese out. So I really churned my heart out to him, and he just sat there. He was like an episcopal vacuum cleaner, sucking all this stuff up and listening to it. I told him about the homosexuality in the Church, and I said “I can name six or seven homosexual priests in the diocese. They call themselves the ‘altar society.’” He said, “You’ve come in here with a bunch of rumors, and I’m not going to listen to that.” I said, “Well, one day, somebody is going to have to pay!” But he wouldn’t listen.

Every time I went to see him, I’d go in and argue with him. I think there is only one pastoral letter he wrote, supposedly on the Mass and the Eucharist. I read the thing and I took it to his office, and I said, “Did you write this? Is this supposed to be a complete treatise on the Eucharist and the Mass? How did you manage to get through this whole thing without once mentioning Transubstantiation?” “Well, that’s such a long and difficult term anyway,” he said, “and we don’t use that term anymore.”

I said, “I don’t think that’s the correct estimate of that word. When I was in the first grade and our good little Benedictine Sister was preparing us for First Holy Communion, I can remember her putting that up on the board. She put ‘trans,’ and then she put a line. Then she put ‘substantiation,’ and then she went through and explained what each of those things meant. She was able to put it in terms we could understand, so that we knew that the Bread and the Wine are substantially different from what they were before the Consecration.” He just repeated “That’s such a confusing term!” So, I said, “Let’s go on to the next item.”

The “next item” was his having gone to Our Lady of Atonement Parish – that’s what they called a “Catholic-Lutheran joint parish,” where they have a priest on one end of the altar and a Lutheran minister on the other, and they go back and forth. I asked, “What did you do over there?” and he answered, “We concelebrated liturgy.” “What does that mean?” I asked, “Did you and the Lutheran minister say Mass together? What did you do?” He just wouldn’t discuss it any more.

And then, one night during all this “Stewardship” business, the Archbishop really got angry. He called me up, it was after hours, 5:05 pm! He was supposed to be on his way home, but he stopped and called me. He was SO livid, he could hardly talk on the phone. He said, “You be in my office at ten o’clock tomorrow morning before the diocesan consulters and the other bishops of the diocese. Plead your case there!” I said, “Well, all right, I will be glad to come in and do that, but I haven’t got any time to document all this.” He said, “That’s okay, just come on in and tell us what’s on your mind.”

So, I was in there probably an hour altogether, and those priests were lined up in a big horseshoe, you know, and I was at the table on the end by myself. I had my tape recorder, which I set up beside me, and, as I was trying to plug it in, I heard a voice up at the other end: “Hey, you can’t use a recorder in here!” I turned around, and it was the archbishop. I asked, “Why not?” He said, “We don’t record this kind of meeting.” And I said, “Oh, all right, but I’ll plug it in while I’m talking and unplug it while you’re talking, how’s that?” Then I set up a chair beside me, and one of the bishops, who used to be a very good friend of mine, asked what the chair was for. They were waiting for an attorney to come in, I suppose. I said “Well, that’s for my Guardian Angel.” And these priests looked at me like I was kind of crazy, you know.

At the end of my little speech, the Archbishop said, “Okay, I agree with you on everything except for the question of homosexuality in the Seminary. We took care of that a couple of weeks ago. Of course, you wouldn’t know about that meeting, but it’s already been taken care of.” But he sided with me on the rest of the other complaints that I had.

Afterwards, he got on my case, and he finally told me to take a sabbatical. He said, “You can take you sabbatical if you want, and you are free to write up a proposal of what you want to do.” I agreed, and I took a month to get my plan together and brought it back to him.

I told him that I wanted to spend five months or so studying the Council of Trent, Vatican I, Vatican II, and all of the papal encyclicals from the last two hundred years. But he said, “No, No, That’s non-productive. You will go to the University and take their ‘Credo’ course” (which was an updating in theology). But I said “No, No.” I said, like the boys said when it was time to go to Vietnam: “Hell no, I won’t go! No thanks.” So he said, “Then I’ll send you to a monastery for your sabbatical, and I will draw up a course of studies for you. You will have a private mentor.” I said, “No, I do not need a guru.” Finally, he told me to go ahead and do what I wanted.

I said then that I wanted to spend the last couple of weeks of my sabbatical in Fatima, to talk all this stuff over with our Blessed Lady, and then I would come back. And he agreed. Well, I never got to Fatima, but in the meantime this place came up for sale, and I knew I had been had by that time. When I went back to see him, after the sabbatical was over, he told me that, because I had said the Latin Mass in “excommunicated” chapels, mainly Portland and Veneta [Oregon], he could no longer use my services. So I said, “Okay. You do what you have to do. But you’re going to have to tie me up in chains to stop me from offering the Latin Mass.” He threatened to suspend me if I didn’t stop.

A month or so went by, and I got a letter from him telling me to get an attorney so that we could have a hearing in Portland. I thought it was over, and I decided that, no matter who I got, the result would be the same. In conscience, no Novus Ordo priest could defend me, and, if I got one of the Society of St. Pius X priests, they wouldn’t listen to him. So I wrote back to him and asked him to appoint an attorney for me. I sent this priest the whole case, and he read it and sent it back to me. He said to go back to the Archbishop and tell him that I was sorry and then submit and obey the Archbishop. And then, at the end of the letter, he said, “Besides, the traditional Latin Mass is a thing of the past, and within ten years it will be nothing more than a footnote in the history of the Church.” And so I get nowhere with that. The next thing I knew, the Archbishop sent me a letter of suspension. I never did have a hearing.

I moved up here in 1988, the very weekend that Archbishop Lefebvre ordained the four Bishops. Then, I asked Fr. Laisney if I could help him out in the chapels in Portland and Venata, and he said, “Welcome aboard!” And I have been doing it ever since.

Q: So you’re a renegade because you won’t give up the traditional idea of the priesthood and the Mass. How would you describe the new idea of the priest? What do they think the priest is, in those theological updating courses, for instance?

Fr. H: I don’t know because I never went.

Q: You never went to a seminar?

Fr. H: No, I stopped that right in the beginning. They used to have three-day seminars, once a year. I went to the first one, and I stayed the first morning. At mid-morning, we met with the Archbishop, and we could ask him any kind of questions that we wanted. Well, the Archbishop started out with one of the directives that came from Rome, and he said that the Masses of priests who use anything other than unleavened bread and sacramental wine are to be questioned. But the Archbishop himself was pooh-poohing the idea. So these priest go the idea that they could go ahead and use pita bread, cookie dough, whatever. You could go down to Safeway and get a jug of wine or even grape juice! It didn’t seem to make too much difference to him.

I poked the priest sitting to one side of me and said, “Hey did you hear what he just said?” He said yes. I poked the one on the other side (he was a classmate of mine), and I said, “Did you hear what he just said?” He said yes. I said, “Well, in my book that’s unacceptable!” and I got up and walked out the door and went home. And that’s the last one I attended. I don’t know what they say anymore about the priesthood, the sacraments, or whatever. I just don’t pay any attention to them.

 

 

Forbidding Tradition

WHY WON’
T THE POPE’
S MAN GRANT THE POPE’
S INDULT?

 

By George Neumayr

San Francisco Faith, March 1999

Pope John Paul II asked bishops again this last year to show "pastoral attention" to Catholics attached to the Latin Mass. But in San Francisco the Latin Mass is forbidden. The reason: San Francisco Archbishop William Levada refuses to grant the Pope’
s indult.

 "I’
m not suprised by it," says a source who knows Levada. "He is keenly aware of priestly backlash...And he knows, like most American prelates, that traditionalists are an expendable group, what with their lack of money and institutions."

 Levada, observers suspect, is afraid to anger and alienate priests attached to his predecessor’
s policies. Quinn vehemently opposed the Latin Mass, saying of the indult, "Not in my diocese." Quinn also called the indult "divisive" in a letter to a diocesan priest who petitioned for it in 1984.

I asked Maurice Healy, the archdiocesan spokesman, to explain Levada’
s refusal to grant the indult, especially since smaller dioceses like Santa Rosa and Stockton have granted it. "There is no groundswell of support," he said, adding, "He is not going to move forward on a timetable set by you."

In fact, San Franciscans have approached Levada on the issue, but he put them off. The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a papally recognized Latin Mass order, appealed to the Archbishop, offering to send a priest to San Francisco. Unlike Sacramento Bishop William Weigand who welcomed the order, Levada rejected the offer.

"That story is accurate," said Jude Huntz, a spokesperson for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. "He just gave a very brief negative reply." Huntz finds it puzzling that prelates would treat the Latin Mass like a threat to Vatican II. "That doesn’
t make sense because the Pope" approves of it. Huntz invites prelates who consider the Latin Mass a loser cause to visit their packed-to-overflowing "seminary." He points out that the group is now in "19 dioceses" in America and is in the process of building a new seminary in Lincoln, Nebraska.

 Monsignor Steven Ottellini, the well-respected president of Marin Catholic high school, sees no "problem with granting the Latin Mass indult. I think people who oppose that idea attach too much political significance to the Latin Mass and don’
t appreciate that there is a new generation of Catholics hungry for the beauty and prayerfulness contained in the Church’
s rich artistic and liturgical traditions and don’
t attach any significance to them beyond that. The Latin masses I attended in Paris and New York were filled with people who still feel the power of that tradition. Sure, there are some people who may support it for the wrong reasons, but does that negate it as a valid option for the universal Church?"

 Indeed, the Pope and his chief doctrinal adviser, Cardinal Ratzinger, have repeatedly praised the Latin Mass, identifying the growing interest in it as a sign of spiritual health. "I invite the bishops...to understand and to have a renewed pastoral attention for the faithful attached to the old rite," the Pope said in October of last year to a crowd of 3,000 traditionalists gathered in Rome for a celebration of the 1983 indult.

"I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it," writes Ratzinger in the 1997 book Salt of the Earth. "It’
s impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent."

Even more recently, Ratzinger said to an Italian publication that the Church needs a new generation of bishops open to the Latin Mass and that prelates should see the yearning for it as a "desire" for "divinity."

 To the traditionalists gathered in Rome to celebrate the anniversary of the Pope’
s indult, Ratzinger said: "The orthodox forms of a rite are living realities born of the dialogue of love between the Church and its Lord--they are the expressions of the life of the Church in which are concentrated the faith, the prayer and the very life of generations, and in which at the same time are incarnated in a concrete form the action of God and man’
s response.... The authority of the Church can define and limit the use of rites in various historical situations but she never purely and simply forbids their use! Thus the Council ordered a reform of the liturgical books, but it did not forbid the use of the previous books."

 Ratzinger rejected the notion that the Latin Mass is divisive, noting that the Church has always supported a multiplicity of rites: "Until the Council, there existed side by side with the Roman rite the Ambrosia rite, the Mozarabic rite of Toledo, the rite of Braga, the Carthusian rite, the Carmelite rite and the best known--the Dominican rite--and perhaps other rites as well that I do not know. No one was ever scandalized that the Dominicans, who were often present in our parishes, had their own rite and did not celebrate in the same way as the parish priests.We did not have the least doubt that their rite was as Catholic as the Roman rite; and we were proud of the richness of having a number of different traditions. Furthermore, it is necessary to state that the scope that the new Ordo Missae gives for creativity is often excessively widened; the difference between the liturgy according to the new books, and the liturgy in practice in different places, is often greater than that between the old and the new liturgy when both are celebrated in accordance with the norms prescribed by the liturgical books."

 In the light of such high-level pronouncements, local Catholics attached to the Latin Mass find Levada’
s unwilligness to grant the Pope’
s indult mystifying, if not insulting. "Mickey Mouse liturgies are permitted here in the city, but the ancient rite for which saints and martyrs died is forbidden" says a local Catholic. "Isn’
t that mind-boggling? I guess we are bad Catholics for wanting the Pope’
s indult," he says sarcastically.

 A diocesan priest familiar with local Church politics points out that the official reason for not granting the indult is bogus. "The indult doesn’
t say that there has to be a groundswell of support for it to be granted. And if you ask them what constitutes a groundswell of support, they won’
t tell you." Indeed, I asked Healy several times to define that phrase. He refused. "Traditional Catholics feel disenfranchised," says the priest. "Is it any wonder? The official Church treats them with contempt..They act as if the Holy Spirit woke up at Vatican II and everything before that is suspect...The new orthodoxy is heterodoxy."

 A high-ranking Church official in America whom I asked to comment on this matter, said the resistance to the indult is "crazy." "Why not grant it?" he said. After all, left-wing clerics "permit everything else."

 

 

Ecumenical Archbishop Levada to

Head Sacred Congregation

for the Doctrine of the Faith

“I consider myself to be in the exact middle of the road

as to where I should be as a bishop.”1[i]

- Archbishop William Levada

by John Vennari

- John Vennari is Editor of the traditionalist North American monthly, Catholic Family News and website.

Pope Benedict XVI ap-pointed San Francisco’s Archbishop William Levada as Prefect of the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The announcement came on May 13, the same day Pope Benedict announced he had placed Pope John Paul II on the fasttrack to beatification, bypassing the prudent five-year waiting period.

By appointing Levada, Benedict XVI has indeed made good his promise to continue the post-Conciliar policies of Pope John Paul II. A “middle-of-the-road” American ecumenist with a proven reputation for compromise now fills the vacancy left by Cardinal Ratzinger. The spirit of Vatican II blazes forward under the new Pontificate.

The secular press repeatedly calls Archbishop Levada a doctrinal conservative, but this is not true. Levada is a man of Vatican II, an enthusiast for ecumenism and interreligious practice. He would have been condemned for his words and actions had he said and done them under Cardinal Ottaviani, his predecessor of the Holy Office.

The Politics  of Compromise

One of the ways in which Archbishop Levada showed himself “middle of the road”, was his gingerly treatment of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. A handful of American bishops last year announced they would refuse Communion to such politicians, but Levada “took a more conciliatory approach to the controversy.” He said he would not refuse Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians until he could “listen to their concerns and offer them the opportunity for a truly fruitful examination of Catholic teaching.”[ii]

One wonders how much examination on the part of the politician is required if the prelate simply stated the truth in public: abortion is murder of innocent babies, a crime that cries to Heaven for vengeance, and Catholic politicians who support this carnage are in objective mortal sin and must be denied the sacraments. Levada’s position seems more in line with that of Cardinal Mahony from Los Angeles, who “favors educating Catholic politicians on the immorality of abortion, rather than imposing any religious sanctions.”[iii] It is the insipid Vatican II solution: endless dialogue that goes nowhere while babies are butchered daily — and by the thousands.

San Francisco’s Arch-bishop Levada, ever faithful to the middle-of-the-road, “took a neutral position on a second gay-rights initiative, saying he wanted to focus on defeating legalizing of doctor-assisted suicide.” Catholic writer Christopher Ferrara asks, “What does one thing have to do with another? Archbishop Levada simply sold out on the issue.”[iv]

Then there is the case of Father Carl Schipper, Academic Dean at Saint Patrick Seminary. According to Michael Rose’
s Goodbye! Good men!, Schipper was arrested following a six month investigation for soliciting sex with minors over the internet and distributing pornographic material on line. The San Jose police, posing as 13 year old boys on the internet, caught Father Schipper in the act of soliciting. Schipper pleaded no contest and was sentenced to six months in jail.

This left a vacancy in the San Francisco seminary. Archbishop Levada then called back to the seminary staff Father Gerald Coleman, S.S., from his sabbatical leave. Father Coleman is well-known for advancing the homosexual agenda. For example, Father Coleman spoke of "the importance" of seminaries recognizing and accepting their sexual orientation, heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Father Coleman also had publicly called for civil law to "in some fashion recognize these faithful and loving (homosexual) unions by according them certain rights and obligations, thus assisting (homosexual- persons in unions with clear and specified benefits."[v]

Perhaps Levada acquired a reputation as a conservative because of his opposition to other areas of the homosexual agenda. In early summer of 2000, when a Gay Pride Festival was scheduled in Rome, Levada traveled to the Holy City. He organized a viewing at the Vatican of a video from San Francisco’s vile Gay Pride parade, to warn Rome what it was in for. The video was then shown to Italian politicians, as the Vatican mobilized to prevent the Festival’s occurrence.[vi] The nine-day event took place nonetheless.

On April 3, 2004, Archbishop Levada and another bishop, along with 1,000 Catholics, conducted a five-block march to protest same-sex marriages in San  Francisco.

Nice show, but the Catholic Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, who issued marriage licenses to homosexual couples, was not disciplined by Archbishop Levada for doing so. The Archbishop hinted that if the offense continued, the Mayor might be refused Holy Communion.[vii] Shortly after, however, when The San Francisco Chronicle asked the archdiocese whether Catholic politicians who support abortion and same-sex marriage would be denied Communion, the Archbishop declined comment. An archdiocesan spokesman said, “Arch-bishop Levada serves on the U.S. Catholic bishops ad hoc committee reviewing this issue and he wants to focus on discussions within the Church rather than making a public comment at this time.” Once again, Levada sidestepped the issue.

At the same time, Catholic Mayor Newsom boasted that he receives Communion on those Sundays he decides to go to Mass, and that “his conscience is clear”. Mayor Newsom also said at a press conference that he disagreed with the Catholic Church’s teaching on stem cell research, abortion, same-sex marriage and birth-control. Levada did nothing against the Mayor’s public scoff of the Catholic religion.[viii] Under Levada’s watch, Catholic politicians (including pro-abortion Rep. Nancy Pelosi) could wipe their boots on Catholic truth with impunity.

Clerical  Abuse Cover-up

No one would call Catholic World News a traditionalist publication. But Philip Lawler, the journal’s editor, is clearly shaken by Levada’s rise to prominence. Calling the appointment “shocking”, he explains that the Prefect of the CDF is the second-most influential leader in the universal Church. He also laments that Levada’s style of compromise on major issues such as same-sex benefits and pro-abortion Catholic politicians, “undermined positions taken by other American prelates who had chosen to take a clear stand and risk a direct clash with the popular culture.”

Levada’s track record in the clerical sex-abuse is abysmal. The Portland diocese which he led from 1986 to 1996 is now bankrupt because of payments won in court by abuse victims. "Several of the devastating lawsuits" says Lawler, "involved priests who were restored to parish work by Archbishop Levada after having been accused of molesting children." Levada also protected theses priests from criminal prosecution after the Archbishop learned of their crimes.

Of Levada’s activities in San Francisco, Lawler writes, “In San Francisco, the archbishop has been roundly denounced by sex-abuse victims for what they see as his uncooperative attitude in efforts to identify and punish clerical abuse.” Lawler explains that these denunciations came not only from the abuse victims, but from one of Levada’s own men. Lawler writes, “James Jenkins, a layman chosen by the archbishop to chair an independent re-view board examining child-abuse allegations, eventually resigned in protest, charging that Levada had stymied the work of the board through ‘deception, manipulation and control’.”

Then in 1999, Bishop Patrick Zieman of the neighboring diocese of Santa  Rosa was forced to resign after news surfaced that he had blackmailed a priest to serve as his on-call homosexual partner. Bishop Zieman, due to extravagant spending, left the diocese with a colossal $30 million debt. Archbishop Levada, who was made the temporary apostolic administrator in the vacancy, not only refrained from condemning Zieman’s actions, but asked the faithful to join him “in thanking [Zieman] for the energy and gifts he has shared far and wide.” Levada also covered up Zieman’s financial misdeeds calling them merely “poor investment decisions,” and said at a February 2000 press conference that it is inappropriate for a layman to call for criminal prosecution of Bishop Zieman.[ix]

What renders all of this even more disturbing is that the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, since 2002, is now commissioned with investigating charges of clerical abuse. Benedict XVI has chosen a man with a history of compromise and cover-up to head this central discastery.

Of Miters and Yarmulkes

Archbishop Levada is no stranger to the Vatican. From 1976 to 1982, he worked at the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He and Cardinal Ratzinger were reported to be friends. Levada was the only American on the seven-bishop editorial committee that produced the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Of the New Catechism, Levada said it “was not meant to ignore or reverse the work of the Second Vatican Council”.[x] He praised Vatican II’s ambiguous Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy as containing “wonderful teaching”.[xi] And throughout his career, Vatican II’s new interreligious orientation was the wind in his sails.

In September 1988, while he was Archbishop of Portland, Oregon, Levada and a Lutheran bishop led a joint worship service for a combined congregation of Lutherans and Catholics. He was also the first American bishop to visit a synagogue, and continued to visit synagogues while Archbishop of San Francisco.

March 5, 1996 saw Arch-bishop Levada take part in an interfaith prayer service at a San Francisco synagogue to remember the victims of a wave of bombing attacks against Israelis. “Catholic Archbishop Levada”, said The San Francisco Chronicle, “was seated prominently on the bimah or pulpit of the synagogue, in the company of the rabbis. Levada delivered a brief but powerful prayer to the one God common to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in which he described the bombing campaign in Israel as and repulsive’.”[xii]

First, there is no one God “common to Jews, Christians and Muslims”, since the true God is the Blessed Trinity, denied by Jews and Muslims.

 Second, the sad bloodshed of the victims aside, the Archbishop’s religious visit to a synagogue is an affront to Catholic and biblical teaching. The synagogue is set up against the manifest will of Jesus Christ. Our Lord put an end to the religion of the Old Covenant, and had harsh words for those who reject Him. He said to the Jews, “If you do not believe that I am He (the Messiah) you will die in your sins.” (John 8:28)

Saint John, faithful to his Divine Master, taught likewise, “He that hath the Son, hath life. He that hath not the Son, hath not life.” (1 John 5:12) Saint John also warned that he who denies that Jesus has not come in the flesh is “... a seducer and an anti-christ”. (2 John 1:7) But today’s Jewish religion, like no other religion, holds the rejection of Jesus Christ as its central tenet.

A Catholic prelate who visits and prays at a synagogue betrays Jesus Christ, as the visit grants public legitimacy to a religion that holds Jesus Christ in disdain, believing Him to be a liar and deceiver.[xiii] It tells Jews that their religion which spurns Christ is of equal value with the Catholic religion in which Christ is the center of all.

This was precisely the effect of Pope John Paul’s first visit to the synagogue in Rome on April 13, 1986, an unprecedented ecumenical event.[xiv] Rabbi Elio Toaff of the Rome synagogue said that as a result of the Pope’s visit, “a turning point in the history of the church” was made, one that “puts the two religions on a level of equality.”[xv]

Only fifty years ago, any well-trained seminarian could have explained the disastrous consequences of the Pope’s ecumenical visit to the synagogue. It corrupts the integrity of the Faith and it leaves the Jew in the darkness of his false religion. Saint Ambrose taught clearly the incompatibility of Christian religion with the Jewish religion. “The veil of the temple was torn”, said St. Ambrose, “to signify the division between the two groups of people and the profanation of the synagogue. The old veil was torn to let the Church hang the new veil of Faith.”[xvi] In other words, what God has torn asunder, let no man join together. It is cruelty to the Jew for a Catholic leader to tell him by word or example that he will find salvation by living his life detached from Jesus Christ.

Archbishop Levada, however, called Pope John Paul II’s visit to the synagogue a “good example,” and directly went about imitating him[xvii]. There is little doubt that the Vatican’s new “Guardian of the Faith” at the CDF is permeated with the error that the Old Covenant was not superseded by the New Covenant. This theological bankruptcy, sadly, also extends to Pope Benedict XVI, who announced he will perform a Wojtylian-like visit to a synagogue when he travels to Cologne for World Youth Day.[xviii]

Interfaith Jamborees

On December 1, 1999, Archbishop Levada participated in a San Francisco interfaith event called, “A Call to Oneness”, A Conference on Compassion and HIV/AIDS Diseases. Political leaders along with key representatives from various religions including Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Islamic, Native American, Protestant, schismatic Orthodox and Hinduism took part in the event. As part of the proceedings, the Arch-bishop also allowed a World AIDS day ceremony to take place in the archdiocese’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.[xix]

Then on March 28, 2003, Archbishop Levada hosted a “Spirit of Assisi” event at the Archdiocese’s St. Mary’s Cathedral entitled, “Inter-faith Prayer Service in a Time of National Crisis,” sponsored by the San Francisco Interfaith Council. According to the Jewish Bulletin, the participants encountered “the sweet aroma of incense and the gentle sounds of traditional, Jewish and Christian liturgy blended with gospel music, Arabic and a Buddhist chime.” From the pulpit of the Catholic cathedral, Rabbi Alan Lew read from Psalm 30, and then led the Mourner’s Kaddish, first in Aramaic, then in English. Archbishop Levada, the Jewish Bulletin reported, “set the inclusive tone for the service from the outset.” Levada said, “With all the religions and cultural diversity here, may we know together that our hearts beat as one in prayer to Almighty God for peace today.” Also at the gathering, Norman Fischer of the Everyday Zen Foundation said “We are here to live in harmony.”[xx] Levada’s pan-religious gatherings could not be more contrary to perennial papal teaching, including that of Pope Pius VII who said, “By the fact that the indiscriminate freedom of all forms of religion is proclaimed, truth is confused with error, and the Immaculate Spouse of Christ is placed on the same level as heretical sects and even as Jewish perfidy.”[xxi] Here, Pius VII was condemning equality of religious in civil society. How much more would he condemn a multi-religious gathering in a Catholic cathedral.

Archbishop Levada also gave faculties to priests from the schismatic Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA) to operate in parishes in his diocese. The CPA is a human institution created by the Chinese communist government that does not recognize the pope as its head. Catholics in China are forced to join this schismatic puppet church, as the communist government has declared the true Catholic Church "illegal", and has jailed, persecuted and murdered Catholics who refuse to submit to this schismatic institution. In an open letter to the Vatican Joseph Kung from the Cardinal Kung Foundation complained that the CPA priests given faculties by Levada "were allowed to offer Holy Mass publicly in Roman Catholic Churches and to administer other sacraments openly in parishes. No specific mention was made in parish bulletins that the priests in question belong to the CPA and no explanation was made about the schismatic nature of the CPA."[xxii]

Pan-Christian Pilgrimage

In April 2003, Archbishop Levada embarked on an ecumenical pilgrimage with leaders of two other denominations: the Episcopalian Right Rev. William Swing, and the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony, both from San Francisco. The purpose of the trip was to visit Canterbury, Rome and Istanbul, “the centers of their respected branches of Christianity [sic] ... jointly meeting with the leaders of each body and praying together at holy sites.” They described their pilgrimage “as promoting Christian unity, as well as offering a witness to peaceful coexistence against the backdrop of the Iraqi war.”[xxiii]

Yet this pilgrimage is nothing more than a witness to a counterfeit religion condemned by the Popes. In his 1928 Encyclical Mortalium Animos, which condemned the pan-religious ecumenism practiced today, Pope Pius XI said that this pan-Christian initiative presents a “false Christianity, quite alien to the true Church of Christ.”

Pope Pius XI wrote that the Holy See has “always forbidden” Catholics to take part in interreligious assemblies. He rightly insisted, “unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief, one faith of Christians ... There is but one way in which the unity of Christians may be fostered, and that is by furthering the return to the one true Church  of Christ of those who are separated from it.” This is likewise the clear teaching of the perennial magisterium, especially that of Pope Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum, Pope Saint Pius X’s Ex Quo, and Pope Pius XII’s Instruction on the Ecumenical Movement. Pope Pius XI further warned that the “fair and alluring words” of the pan-Christian initiative “cloak a most deadly error subversive to the Catholic Faith”.

Nonetheless, the three bishops on their ecumenical pilgrimage were warmly received by John Paul II. They also visited the Vatican’s Walter Cardinal Kasper, the man who rejoices that Vatican II forsook the truth that non-Catholics must convert to the Catholic Church for unity and salvation. “Today” said Kasper, “we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being ‘Catholics.’ This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II.”[xxiv] By his ecumenical pilgrimage and other interfaith activities, Archbishop Levada shows himself to be in basic agreement with Cardinal Kasper’s heterodox views.

One of Levada’s ecumenical comrades on the ecumenical pilgrimage, the Episcopalian Bishop William Swing, is a colorful character himself. Swing is the founder of the New Age “United Religions” initiative — a United Nations of religions — that works in tandem with the leftist Gorbachev Foundation and the syncretic World Council for Religion and Peace. It encompasses all religions, be they Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, B’hai, Shinto, you name it. Swing’s initiative bears an eerie resemblance to the Masonic “Church Universal” that New Age Alice Baily predicted would arise at the end of the 20th Century.25[xxv]

Can anyone imagine solid Catholic bishops such as Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Saint Francis de Sales, or Giuseppe Cardinal Sarto globe-trotting with a pan-religious flower-child like William Swing? Yet Levada not only considered Swing a friend, but joined him in a lengthy, undoubtedly expensive, ecumenical pilgrimage as a “symbol of unity” — a false unity condemned by all pre-Vatican II Popes. Not surprisingly, the pilgrimage included a stop in Frankfurt, Germany, where the three bishops and their entourages visited a former concentration camp and prayed at a synagogue.

Levada and the True Mass

Archbishop Levada, while in Oregon, allowed an “indult” Tridentine Mass. Once he came to San Francisco, however, he refused to establish the indult. George Neumayr wrote that Levada was probably afraid to anger and alienate priests attached to his predecessor’s policies. Archbishop Quinn, the former Ordinary of San Francisco, vehemently opposed the Latin Mass, saying of the indult, “Not in my diocese.” Quinn also called the indult “divisive” in a letter to a diocesan priest who petitioned for it in 1984.

Neumayr quoted an acquaintance of Levada who said, “I’m not surprised by it. He (Levada) is keenly aware of priestly backlash ... And he knows, like most American prelates, that traditionalists are an expendable group, what with their lack of money and institutions.”[xxvi] The fact that Levada angered those traditional Catholics petitioning for the indult seemed not to trouble him at all.

Archbishop Levada, while Ordinary of Oregon, also had run-ins with Father Eugene Heidt, a feisty traditional priest. Levada eventually illicitly “suspended” Father Heidt for his no-compromise adherence to Tradition. Before the “suspension”, during a meeting with the Archbishop, Father Heidt complained that the Archbishop’s Pastoral Letter on the Eucharist contained no mention of Transubstantiation. Levada re-plied that Transubstantiation is a “long and difficult term” and that “we don’t use it any more”.[xxvii]

This is a mockery to the infallible council of Trent, that committed the Church to this precise scholastic definition, hallowed by long usage. Even Pope Paul VI’
s 1965 Mysterium Fidei reiterated that the parish priest is duty-bound to speak of "transubstantiation". (# 54) Levada’
s approach is also an insult to "modern man" to whom post-Conciliar churchmen constantly claim to be appealing. It implies that modern man is too stupid to comprehend a term that 2nd grade Catholic school children grasped only fifty years ago.

Shaky  Moral Teaching

In a 1995 San Francisco Chronicle interview when he first arrived in San Francisco, Archbishop Levada was asked about the Catholic teaching on birth control and (immoral) devices for AIDS prevention. His answers were not exactly lucent. He said, “The Catholic Church does not teach against the regulation of birth, but says artificial contraception is not in God’s plan. But natural family planning is not given the same attention in the medical community as artificial contraception.”

Clearly, the Archbishop does not even think to reiterate the true Catholic teaching on the goodness of large families, nor does he mention that according to Catholic Moral teaching, any sort of birth regulation for a Catholic can only be for the gravest of reasons. Once again, NFP is falsely touted as a legitimate means of “Catholic” birth control.

Regarding devices for protection against AIDS, Archbishop Levada said, “Certainly if someone has decided not to follow the path of abstinence, and engage in extramarital sexual relations, that already is something that is not in accord with God’s plan. It could be the better part of their choice to use the protections that are available.”

This response is a variation on Martin Luther, “Sin strong, but protect yourself stronger.” Mind you, Levada is saying this to a secular newspaper read by millions, and in San Francisco, no less.

Levada goes on to say that the Church does not believe there should be a widespread campaign to promote the use of these devices, and that the “better policy” is one that “corresponds to God’s plan, to refrain from sex until you marry and are faithful to one person.”[xxviii]

Better policy? Why are men like Levada afraid to speak the simple truth: that the human acts under discussion are mortal sins that send a soul to hell for eternity? Why use the delicate phrase “not in accord with God’s plan”, with no mention of the horrifying eternal consequences for discarding God’s plan? How can a Catholic Archbishop possibly advance the falsehood that for those who will deliberately sin anyway, “it could be a better part of their choice to use the protections that are available”? Does he not know that use of these “protections” is intrinsically evil? That no set of circumstances can justify employing them? Even for the sake of AIDS prevention, has he forgotten Saint Paul’s warning that we may not do evil that good may come from it? I he not aware that the lesser of two evils is still an evil? And that evil can never be the direct object of our will? Levada’s moral theology appears to be as wobbly as his ecumenical theology.[xxix]

His Eminence

All of what has been said reveals Archbishop Levada to be a child of Vatican II, a creature of the age, a prelate who side-stepped hot issues in his diocese, a churchman who covered-up clerical abuse and transferred known abusers to active parishes, a man whom no right-thinking Catholic would allow to teach religion to his children.

Yet out of all the bishops on the planet, Archbishop Levada is the man chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to be the alleged “watchdog of orthodoxy”, and to occupy the second most influential position in the Catholic Church worldwide.

THE SAN  FRANCISCO CHRONICLE SAYS William Levada will be made a Cardinal on June 29 of this year.

Our Lady, Conqueror of All Heresies, pray for us!




[i]  “William Levada”, The San Francisco Chronicle, Don Lattin, October 22, 1995.

[ii] “Levada Enters Fray over Holy Rite; No Blanket Denial of Communion for Stand on Abortion”, The San Francisco Chronicle, June 24, 2004.

[iii] “Bay Area Bishops Decline Comment”, The San Francisco Chronicle, May 31, 2004.

[iv] “Say it Isn’t So! Archbishop Levada as Head of the CDF????”, Christopher Ferrara, Fatima Perspectives, May 12, 2005, www.fatima.org

[v] Goodbye! Good Men, Michael Rose, (Aquinas Publications, 2002) p. 49.

[vi]  “Gays at the Gate”, The Weekend Australian, June 10, 2000.

[vii] “Looking Ahead”, SF Weekly, April 21, 2004.

[viii] “Questions on Sex Issues, Politicians and Sacraments”, The San Francisco Chronicle, May 31, 2004.

[ix] “Archbishop Levada: The Pope’s Surprising Choice”, Philip Lawler, May 14, 2005, Catholic World News, online forum.

[x] “Proposed Catechism Stirs Dispute Among Scholars”, New York Times, March 8, 1990

[xi] “How to Keep the Lord’s Day Holy: Year of the Eucharist Pastoral Letter”, Archbishop William Levada, March 31, 2005.

[xii] “Hundreds in S.F. Mourn Israeli Victims. The San Francisco Chronicle, March 6, 1996.

[xiii] Matthew 27:63.

[xiv] Pope John Paul II was the first Pope in history to visit a synagogue, with the exception of Saint Peter who, unlike John Paul II, went to the synagogue on an unecumenical visit to preach to the Jews the necessity of accepting Jesus Christ for salvation. The conversion of the Jews, sadly, was not John Paul’s aim. See “The Secret of John Paul II’s Success”, John Vennari, Catholic Family News, June, 2005.

[xv] “Mutual Declaration of Respect: Pope John Paul Makes a Historic Visit to a Synagogue”, Time, April 28, 1986.

[xvi] Cited from Peter Lovest Thou Me? Abbé Daniel Le Roux, (Gladysdale: Instauration Press, 1989), p. 129.

[xvii] “Some Reflections on Pope John Paul II and the Jews”, Archbishop Levada, April 11, 2000.

[xviii] “Benedict XVI to Visit Cologne Cathedral”, Zenit, May 13, 2005.

[xix] “Political and Faith Leaders Join Forces At Unprecedented Gathering to Address HIV/AIDS”, Business Wire, December 1, 1999.

[xx] A.S.F. Rabbi, Cantor, “Take Podium at Interfaith Peace Service”, Jewish Bulletin, March 28, 2003.

[xxi] “Open Letter” to the Vatican by Joseph Kung, Cardinal Kung Foundation, March 28, 2000. See http: //www.cardinalkungfoundation.org/ cpa/openletter.html#_Toc482165996.

[xxii] Pope Pius VII, Letter, Post tam diurturnas, quoted from The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism, Father Denis Fahey, p. 10.

[xxiii]  “Bishop’s Pilgrimage Offers Symbol of Unity”, John Allen, National Catholic Reporter, April 23, 2003.

[xxiv] Adista, February 26, 2001: “La decisione del Vaticano II alla quale il papa si attiene, E8 assolutamente chiara: noi intendiamo l’ecumene oggi non piF9 nel senso dell’ecumene del ritorno, secondo il quale gli altri devono ‘convertirsi’ e diventare ‘cattolici.’ Questo E8 stato espressamente abbandonato dal Vaticano II.”

[xxv] See “One World Church Starts Up”, Cornelia Ferreira, Catholic Family News, November, 1997.

[xxvi] “Forbidding Tradition: Why Won’t the Pope’s Man Grant the Pope’s Indult?”, George Neumayr, San Francisco Faith, March, 1999. Ironically, Mr. Neumayr quotes in this article Cardinal Ratzinger’s positive words about the Tridentine Mass. It will be interesting to see how Levada will deal with Traditional Catholics as head of the CDF. Levada has shown himself all along to be a “company man”, so we can be fairly certain that Levada’s approach will be what Pope Ratzinger wants it to be. Just what that approach will be remains to be seen.

[xxvii] See Priest Where is Thy Mass? Mass? Where is Thy Priest?, (Kansas City, Angelus, 2004), pp. 67-70.

[xxviii] “William Levada”, The San Francisco Chronicle, Don Lattin, October 22, 1995.

[xxix] Again, even the post-Counciliar Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae (1968) taught that an act that is deliberately contraceptive is “intrinsically wrong.” (#14)