Archbishop Levada prepares to leave for Rome amid prayers and few protesters

.- San Francisco's St. Mary's Cathedral was full to overflowing Sunday as  nearly 3,000 faithful gathered to say farewell to Archbishop William Levada, who will take over as Head of the Vatican's Congregation for the doctrine of the faith--a post previously held  by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and the highest ever held by an American. In his new position, the Archbishop will be charged with safegaurding the teachings and doctrine  of the Catholic Church as handed down from the apostles some 2000 years ago. He is also expected to play a key role in dealing with the sexual abuse scandal which has been erupting in  the Church in the U.S. since 2002.

During his homily, Archbishop Levada echoed a favorite scripture reference of the late John  Paul II saying, "How grateful I am to be able to pray and celebrate this Eucharist with you  and to hear the words (of Jesus) that I need to hear: 'Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.' "

While the Archbishop's departure was predominantly marked by praise and support, a small group outside of the Cathedral was also on hand to protest renewed tension regarding the priestly sexual abuse scandal, particularly in the Archdiocese of Portland, where he served as ordinary  from 1986 to 1995.

According to the Associated Press, the Archbishop was handed a subpoena moments before

the start of the Mass asking him to testify about a number of priests accused of sexual abuse in  the Oregon archdiocese.

"From these windows, the archbishop said, "you see successes and failure...You see good and  evil. You see beauty and ugliness."

As he prepares to fill the large shoes of Cardinal Ratzinger, Archbishop Levada mused during  the Mass, "How should I measure my time here? By counting up accomplishments? By the  number of people I helped in the diocese to know the Lord better? Only God knows the  answer to that."


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