Shortly after his appointment to lead the Archdiocese of San Francisco was announced, Archbishop-designate Salvatore J. Cordileone committed to defend marriage and serve the needy, particularly immigrants, in his new position.
“The Church of San Francisco has a tremendous legacy of Catholic ministries and participation in the local community for serving the common good,” he said, adding that he is inspired and encouraged by the rich history in the archdiocese.
At a press conference in San Francisco in July 27, he said that he was “humbled” by the “unexpected” appointment.
Born in San Diego in 1956, Archbishop-elect Cordileone was named to lead the Diocese of Oakland in 2009. He is known for his staunch defense of marriage and his intercultural ministry and work with immigrants, previously serving on the U.S. bishops’ cultural diversity task force and currently leading the group’s subcommittee for the defense of marriage.
When he is installed at archbishop of San Francisco on October 4, he will assume pastoral care of an archdiocese deeply embroiled in cultural debates over immigration and same-sex marriage.
Archbishop George H. Niederauer, who is retiring after serving as the archbishop of San Francisco since 2005, said that he was “very pleased” to welcome Archbishop-Cordileone. He offered his prayers, support and friendship to the incoming leader.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles also welcomed San Francisco’s new shepherd, extending “fraternal best wishes and prayers” in a July 27 statement.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Archbishop designate Cordileone and all the Catholic bishops of California to strengthen the faith of our Catholic people and to help build a more just society for all who live in the Golden State,” he said.
At the press conference, Archbishop-elect Cordileone said that the “cultural diversity” within his new archdiocese will be “both a strength and a challenge.” He explained that the devotional life of many immigrant groups enriches the local church, but added that it can be difficult to overcome “cultural factors” and bring people together.
While he said that he will need time to get to know the area, the archbishop-elect anticipates that many of the challenges he faces will deal with “issues of family life,” which are ultimately rooted in “foundational philosophical issues” about the nature of the human person and the purpose of sexuality.
“Marriage is a foundational good,” he emphasized, explaining that the Church’s stance against “gay marriage” is not discriminatory but is simply rooted in the nature and definition of marriage as an institution.
Children “can only come about through the embrace of a man and a woman coming together,” he said, adding that this necessarily limits marriage to the type of union that can bring new life into the world.
“Children deserve to have a mother and a father,” the archbishop-elect said, and so “we need to do everything we can to strengthen marriage.”
In addressing “moral challenges” involving the weakening of family life, it is important to realize that strong marriages benefit all of society, he said.
He added that there is a need to lovingly welcome those who “feel alienated from the Church” due to their sexual orientation, showing them that “our stand for marriage is not against anyone, but it’s because we believe this is foundational for the good of our society.”
Archbishop-elect Cordileone also praised a recent executive order by President Barack Obama which effectively puts the DREAM Act into effect, allowing residency for many immigrants who had illegally entered the country as minors.
“The DREAM act very closely corresponds to the elements of a just immigration reform that the U.S. bishops have been advocating for many years now,” he explained.
He said that he hopes this will “kick start” Congress to pass legislation that will be a more stable basis for “comprehensive immigration reform.”
Commenting on sex abuse within the Church, he said that he plans to build on the momentum and progress of his predecessors, continuing in their “firm resolve in addressing the problem.”
Archbishop-elect Cordileone said that he looks forward to assuming his new role and thanked Archbishop Niederauer for his support.
He voiced confidence that with prayer, hard work and God’s grace, “we will, together, be able to further the New Evangelization in this corner of the world we call home.”