As the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop William Levada will be challenged to “take more unpopular stands than he did as a U.S. bishop,” says Catholic analyst Deal Hudson.
Archbishop Levada was named to the post last month by Pope Benedict XVI. He will begin in August and he is the first U.S. bishop to hold such a high-ranking Vatican position.
In an article titled “Does the New Vatican Watchdog Have Any Teeth?”, Hudson outlines the archbishop’s track record and says he is “hopeful” about the appointment.
Hudson says that while the archbishop’s “record on the sex-abuse issue is not stellar” and his compromise with the city of San Francisco in 1997 over benefits for gay partners caused controversy, the archbishop has been faithful in theological matters and has the credentials for his new Vatican post.
Hudson says the proof is in his theological reflections, writings and public stands. The former editor of Crisis magazine points out that the new prefect helped lead the fight against physician-assisted suicide when he was the bishop of Portland. In San Francisco, he opposed same-sex marriage. The archbishop has also spoken out on issues related to Catholic politicians, dissent and Catholic doctrine.
On Catholic politicians, the archbishop authored the text, “Reflections on Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion.”
"A Catholic, to be in full communion with the faith of the Church, must accept this teaching about the evil of abortion and euthanasia,” he wrote about Catholic politicians.
Hudson also points out that Archbishop Levada's relationship with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is more than 30 years old. He was first assigned to the staff of the congregation in 1976, five years after he completed his doctorate at the Gregorian University. He served there until 1982, when Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was named prefect. In 1987, as bishop of Portland, he was the only U.S. bishop named to the congregation’s editorial board of the Catechism. He was also was appointed to serve on the congregation in November 2000 as archbishop of San Francisco.