Salvatore Cordileone

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His Excellency, The Most Reverend

Salvatore Joseph Cordileone
Archbishop of San Francisco
Salvatore J. Cordileone, cropped.png
ArchdioceseSan Francisco
AppointedJuly 27, 2012
InstalledOctober 4, 2012
PredecessorGeorge Hugh Niederauer
OrdinationJuly 9, 1982
by Leo Thomas Maher
ConsecrationAugust 21, 2002
by Robert Brom, Raymond Leo Burke, Gilbert Espinosa Chávez
Personal details
Birth nameSalvatore Joseph Cordileone
Born (1956-06-05) June 5, 1956 (age 64)
San Diego, California
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post
Alma mater
MottoIn Verbo Tuo
(In Thy Word)
Coat of armsSalvatore Joseph Cordileone's coat of arms
Styles of
Salvatore Joseph Cordileone
Coat of arms of Salvatore Joseph Cordileone.svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleArchbishop

Salvatore Joseph Cordileone (born June 5, 1956) is an American prelate of the Catholic Church and the archbishop of San Francisco, California.

A traditional theologian, he is known for his willingness to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.[1]

Cordileone has become known for his outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage.[2][3]

Early life and ministry[edit]

Salvatore Cordileone was born in San Diego, California, and attended Crawford High School from 1971 to 1974.[4] He then studied at San Diego State University for a year before entering the University of San Diego, from where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1978. He then furthered his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University, earning a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology, a type of post-graduate degree, in 1981.[4]

Returning to the United States, Cordileone was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Leo Thomas Maher on July 9, 1982.[5] He then served as an associate pastor at Saint Martin of Tours Parish in La Mesa until 1985, when he returned to the Gregorian and earned a doctorate in canon law in 1989.[4] Cordileone, upon his return to the Diocese of San Diego, served as secretary to Bishop Robert Brom and a tribunal judge (1989–1990), adjutant judicial vicar (1990–1991), and pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Calexico (1991–1995).[4]

In the summer of 1995, he returned to Rome to work as an assistant at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest judicial body in the Vatican under the pope.[4] He was raised to the rank of Chaplain of His Holiness in 1999.[6]

Episcopal career[edit]

Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego[edit]

On July 5, 2002, Cordileone was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego and Titular Bishop of Natchesium by Pope John Paul II.[5] He received his episcopal consecration on August 21, 2002 from Bishop Robert H. Brom, with Bishops Raymond Burke and Gilbert Espinosa Chávez serving as co-consecrators.[5]

Cordileone serves on the episcopal advisory board of the Institute for Religious Life[7] and St. Gianna Physician's Guild.[8] Cordileone is considered to be theologically conservative.[9] At the annual meeting of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore in November, 2006, in the course of consideration of the document which issued as "Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper"[10] he proposed to the gathered bishops that the use of contraception should be included in a list of thoughts or actions constituting grave matter.[11] The proposal was defeated, although a separate document approved at the meeting mentioned that the Catholic Church says that "contraception is objectively immoral."[12]

Within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he sat on the Bishops' and Presidents' Committee on Catholic Education from 2006-2009.[13]

Bishop of Oakland[edit]

Cordileone was later named the fourth Bishop of Oakland by Pope Benedict XVI on March 23, 2009. Filling the vacancy left by Bishop Allen Vigneron's promotion to Archbishop of Detroit in January, Cordileone's relatively quick appointment was speculated to have been related to accusations that the diocese's interim administrator had blessed same-sex unions.[14][15] Cordileone's installation occurred on May 5, 2009, at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland.

On September 20, 2009, Cordileone offered a Pontifical High Mass (in Latin, Missa Pontificalis) in Saint Margaret Mary Church in Oakland. This was the first time a Tridentine Pontifical High Mass was offered in Northern California after the liturgical changes that followed the Second Vatican Council were finalized in 1969.

From 2011-2017, Cordileone was the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage (later renamed a subcommittee) in which capacity he worked against the legalization of same-sex marriage.[16][17] His mission was described by the USCCB as preserving the definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman.[16][18] In a June 2012 EWTN News interview, Cordileone stated that a redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples would be bad for children, detrimental to society and dangerous for religious freedom.[19]

Archbishop of San Francisco[edit]

On July 27, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named Cordileone Archbishop of San Francisco.[20] The appointment of Cordileone, and the acceptance of the resignation of his predecessor, Archbishop George Hugh Niederauer, were both announced on July 27 in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Papal and Apostolic nuncio to the United States of America.[21] Cordileone was installed on October 4, 2012, the patronal Feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco, California.

Drunk driving offense[edit]

Shortly before his installation as archbishop on August 26, 2012, Cordileone was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol at a police checkpoint in San Diego.[22][23] His mother and a visiting priest from Germany were with him in the car he was driving. The arresting officer said that Cordileone "was a driver that was obviously impaired but he was quite cordial and polite throughout. He was not a belligerent drunk at all."[24] Cordileone spent the night in custody. In a statement, he apologized and asked forgiveness the next day.[25] He had been scheduled to appear in court on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. However, Cordileone pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving.[26] He was subsequently given three years’ probation and ordered to pay a fine. He was also required to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim-impact panel and a three-month first conviction program through the state Department of Motor Vehicles.[27]

Call for replacement[edit]

In February 2015 the Archbishop presented a statement to Catholic school teachers within his archdiocese saying Catholic school employees are expected to conduct their public lives in a way that doesn’t undermine or deny the church's doctrine.[28] Democratic Assemblymen Phil Ting of San Francisco and Kevin Mullin of San Mateo immediately wrote and then made public a letter to Cordileone which was signed by every lawmaker representing the communities served by the four Catholic high schools in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties, urging the Archbishop to withdraw what they called "discriminatory morality clauses".[29] Cordileone responded, saying he "respects the lawmakers’ right to hire whoever may advance their mission and that he is asking for the same respect".[28] Phil Ting and Kevin Mulin then called for an investigation of working conditions at high schools administrated by the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, over the archbishop's proposed morality clauses for teachers.[30]

On 16 April 2015, over 100 Catholic donors and church members from the Bay Area signed a full page advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle appealing to Pope Francis to replace Cordileone as archbishop of the San Francisco archdiocese, specifically objecting to Cordileone's characterization of sex outside of marriage and homosexual relations as "gravely evil", saying Cordileone fosters "an atmosphere of division and intolerance". The archdiocese responded that the advertisement was a "misrepresentation of the spirit of the archbishop" and that it was also a misrepresentation to suggest the signers speak for the Catholic community in the Bay Area.[31] In response to this advertisement categorized as "dissidents" in an op-ed piece from the San Mateo Daily Journal,[32] over 7,500 letters of support were received from members of Cordileone's diocese, as well as from around the world.[33] A subsequent picnic and show of support[34] attended by hundreds of people was held on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at the Sue Bierman Park in San Francisco.

Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth[edit]

On November 14, 2018, at the autumn General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, Md., there was a tie in the election to name a successor to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia as chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth. Archbishop Cordileone and Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette each received 125 votes. Archbishop Cordileone was declared the winner by virtue of being the bishop senior in consecration.[35]

Opposition to LGBT rights[edit]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

A vocal opponent of gay rights and same-sex marriage, Cordileone helped to draft Proposition 8 in 2008, California's Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman,[36] and raise substantial sums to pass it.[37][38] He said, "Only one idea of marriage can stand...If that's going to be considered bigoted, we're going to see our rights being taken away–as is already happening."[9] In an interview with USA Today on March 21, 2013, concerning the Supreme Court's then-pending decision on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, Cordileone argued against same-sex marriage, saying that it would harm children. Cordileone personally contributed $13,000 in support of Proposition 8.[39]

In 2009, Cordileone is one of seventeen United States bishops to sign the Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience, a document asserting opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion and assisted suicide, and to what signers feel is an infringement on freedom of religion.[citation needed]

Cordileone took part as a featured speaker in the June 2014 March for Marriage, a rally against same-sex marriage in Washington DC.[40][41][17] The event was organized by the National Organization for Marriage and its sponsors included: Concerned Women for America, The Family Leader, The Heritage Foundation, Human Life International, and the Family Research Council.

Before the event, at least 80 religious leaders and local and state lawmakers and officials (including the Mayor of San Francisco) collected a petition with 30,000 signatures and wrote publicly urging Cordileone not to take part in the event, which they saw as anti-LGBT, and specifically objected to Cordileone, "marching and sharing the podium with individuals who have repeatedly denigrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people." The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi wrote privately urging him not to take part.[17][42] Cordileone responded in a letter in which he said the march was not anti-LGBT or anti-anything, but pro-marriage.[43]

Executive order on LGBT employment[edit]

On 20 June 2014, jointly with other chairmen of committees within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cordileone also expressed concern over the reported intention of Barack Obama to issue an executive order on LGBT employment, which would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in enterprises with federal contracts. The chairs expressed concern that the order might oblige managers to violate their personal religious beliefs.[44][45] The same three bishops published on 17 July 2014 a note explaining their opposition to the order and arguing that such a measure "is not about protecting persons, but behavior", and "uses the force of the law to coerce everyone to accept a deeply problematic understanding of human sexuality and sexual behavior and to condone such behavior".[46][47]

Coat of arms[edit]

The coat of arms chosen by Cordileone has two sections. The upper part is a representation of his Italian surname Cor di leone, which means "heart of lion", and shows the top part of a lion rampant holding a red heart in its paws. The lower part shows a red crab, a reference to the crab-fishing occupation of the Cordileone family on its arrival in California and as a reference to a bishop's duty to be a "fisher of men" (Luke 5:10). The crab is also a reference to the constellation of Cancer, which is associated with the month of July, the month of Cordileone's ordination as a priest and of his appointment as a bishop. The motto, In verbo tuo, meaning "At your word" is a reference to the response of Peter, "At your word I will let down the nets", when invited by Jesus: "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4–5).[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Finding What Should Never Have Been Lost: Priests and the Extraordinary Form – Catholic World Report".
  2. ^ O'Regan, Mary (January 28, 2013). "All our detractors can do is call us names". The Catholic Herald. Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  3. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (September 29, 2012). "San Francisco's New Archbishop Worries Gay Catholics". The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Ask a Canon Lawyer". Catholic Answers. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "Bishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone".[self-published source]
  6. ^ "San Diego Auxiliary Bishop Cordileone Named Bishop of Oakland, California". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  7. ^ "Institute on Religious Life". Archived from the original on 2006-10-22.
  8. ^ "Board of Advisors". Archived from the original on 2014-10-29.
  9. ^ a b Kuruvila, Matthai (March 24, 2009). "Pope picks Spanish speaker as Oakland bishop". San Francisco Chronicle.
  10. ^ "Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper":On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist, p. 9
  11. ^ U.S. Catholic bishops tackle contraception, gays, communion, Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 15, 2006
  12. ^ Married Love and the Gift of Life, p. 4
  13. ^ "The Bishops' and Presidents' Committee". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archived from the original on June 23, 2006. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  14. ^ "Pope rapidly fills Diocese of Oakland vacancy". Catholic News Agency. 2009-03-23.
  15. ^ "Oakland Diocese denies new administrator permitted same-sex 'marriages'". Catholic News Agency. 2009-02-06.
  16. ^ a b Browder, Sue Ellen (February 14, 2011). "Bishop Cordileone Fights to Save Marriage". National Catholic Register. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  17. ^ a b c Romney, Lee (June 11, 2014). "Lawmakers ask S.F. archbishop not to attend anti-gay marriage rally". Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ "California bishop appointed chairman for Marriage Defense Committee". Catholic News Agency. January 6, 2011. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  19. ^ "U.S. Bishops' Marriage Advocate to Lead San Francisco Archdiocese". CNA/EWTN News. July 27, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  20. ^ Kuruvila, Matthai (July 27, 2012). "New SF archbishop appointed by Pope". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  21. ^ "Catholic News Service". Archived from the original on 2013-03-05.
  22. ^ Staff report (August 27, 2012). Archbishop-Elect Apologizes For DUI Arrest In San Diego. KGTV
  23. ^ Incoming San Francisco archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, apologizes for drunk driving. Religion News Service. Published: August 28, 2012.
  24. ^ SF archbishop-elect apologizes for DUI arrest. Associated Press (via Published: August 28, 2012.
  25. ^ CNN Wire Staff (August 27, 2012). San Francisco archbishop apologizes after DUI arrest. CNN
  26. ^
  27. ^ Littlefield, Dana. "SF archbishop admits lesser charge in DUI case".
  28. ^ a b "SF Archbishop Answers Disapproving Letter From Lawmakers After Clarifying Sexual Morality For School Staff". 20 February 2015.
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Lawmakers Want Investigation Of San Francisco Catholic High Schools Over Teacher Morality Clauses". 23 February 2015.
  31. ^ Matier & Ross (16 April 2015). "Prominent Catholics call on pope to oust S.F. archbishop". SFGate. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Letters to Archbishop Cordileone Show Waves of Global Support - Cardinal Newman Society". 1 May 2015.
  34. ^ "Hundreds attend picnic to support archbishop".
  35. ^ "USCCB elects six new committee chairmen". Catholic News Agency.
  36. ^ "DOMA, Prop 8 Fall at Supreme Court". ABC News. 1 July 2013.
  37. ^ Salvatore Cordileone, Gay Marriage Opponent And Prop. 8 Creator, Named Archbishop Of San Francisco, Huffington Post 7/27/2012
  38. ^ Nancy Pelosi urges S.F. archbishop to exit marriage march, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 June 2014.
  39. ^ "Salvatore Cordileone, Diocese Of San Diego - Proposition 8 Campaign Contributions - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2017-08-16.
  40. ^ Kellan Howell, "Thousands march in defense of traditional marriage", The Washington Times, 19 June 2014
  41. ^ Zimmermann, Carol (March 26, 2013). "Crowd in support of traditional marriage marches to U.S. Supreme Court". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  42. ^ "The Bay Area Reporter Online - Cordileone defends marriage march speech".
  43. ^ "Archbishop Cordileone Explains Why He's Participating in Thursday's March for Marriage – ZENIT – English".
  44. ^ Michael Gryboski, "Catholic Church Leaders Express Their Concerns Over Obama's Pending Executive Order on LGBT Employment" in Christian Post, 23 June 2014
  45. ^ "USCCB Chairmen Concerned about Reported Executive Order".
  46. ^ Palmer, Matt (17 July 2014). "USCCB Blog: Hobby Lobby and ENDA".
  47. ^ "Anti-gay Archbishop: Homophobia isn't 'truly unjust' because sexual behaviour is a choice" in Pink News, 19 July 2014
  48. ^ "Cordileone Coat of Arms — Oakland Diocese".

External links[edit]

Media related to Salvatore J. Cordileone at Wikimedia Commons

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
George Hugh Niederauer
Archbishop of San Francisco
Preceded by
Allen Henry Vigneron
Bishop of Oakland
Succeeded by
Michael C. Barber
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego
Succeeded by