William Joseph Levada
|Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,|
Archbishop Emeritus of San Francisco
|Appointed||May 13, 2005|
|Term ended||July 2, 2012|
|Predecessor||Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI)|
|Successor||Gerhard Ludwig Müller|
|Ordination||December 20, 1961|
by Martin John O’Connor
|Consecration||May 12, 1983|
by Timothy Manning, John Ward, and Juan Alfredo Arzube
|Created cardinal||March 24, 2006|
by Pope Benedict XVI
|Born||June 15, 1936|
Long Beach, California, United States of America
|Motto||Fratres in Unum|
William Joseph Levada
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
|See||San Francisco (Emeritus)|
Ordination history of
William Joseph Levada (born June 15, 1936) is an American cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. From May 2005 until June 2012, he served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope Benedict XVI; he was the highest ranking American in the Roman Curia. He was previously the Archbishop of Portland (Oregon) from 1986 to 1995, and then Archbishop of San Francisco from 1995 to 2005.
His has received criticism for covering-up sexual abuse by priests in his care while in Portland and in San Francisco.
Levada was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.
- 1 Early life and clerical formation
- 2 Priestly ministry
- 3 Episcopal ministry
- 4 US sexual abuse scandal involvement
- 5 Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
- 6 Views
- 7 Retirement
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
- 11 Episcopal succession
Early life and clerical formation
His great-grandparents came from Portugal and Ireland, and emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1860s. He grew up in Long Beach and Houston, Texas, attended St. Anthony High School Long Beach and then St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. At St. Anthony High School, his classmate was George Hugh Niederauer, later his successor as archbishop of San Francisco.
From 1958 to 1961, Levada studied at the North American College and did his theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 20, 1961, by Archbishop Martin John O'Connor, rector of the Pontifical North American College and president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in St. Peter's Basilica.
From 1961 until around 1966, Levada worked in parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, including St. Monica's Church in Santa Monica. He also taught high school and worked in college campus ministry.
After this, he returned to Rome and continued his studies at the North American College. He received a doctorate in sacred theology magna cum laude. His 1971 dissertation was written under Francis A. Sullivan, SJ. In the early 1970s, he taught theology at St. John's Seminary School of Theology in Camarillo, California. He was also named the first Director of Continuing Education for the Clergy in the archdiocese, and received the title Monsignor.
From 1976 to 1982, Levada was an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican, having been recommended by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. He also taught part-time at the Pontifical Gregorian University. At the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Levada served under three popes (Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, and Pope John Paul II), and under two prefects of the CDF (Cardinals Franjo Seper and Joseph Ratzinger).
Levada was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and titular bishop of Capreae on March 25, 1983, and was consecrated by Cardinal Manning (with Bishops John J. Ward and Juan Arzube as co-consecrators) in the Cathedral of St. Vibiana on May 12. In 1984 he was appointed episcopal vicar of Santa Barbara County. In 1986 he was appointed chancellor and moderator of the archdiocesan curia. Serving under Cardinal Roger Mahony, Levada reorganized the internal structure of the archdiocese.
On July 1, 1986, Levada became the Archbishop of Portland in Oregon. During his tenure in Portland, Levada helped to revitalize Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon; Levada briefly taught at the seminary as well. Other work undertaken in Portland included reorganizing Catholic Charities, working in outreach to the Hispanic Catholic community, and renovating St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. In 1987 he was appointed by Cardinal Ratzinger, whom Pope John Paul II asked to develop the project for a new Catechism of the Catholic Church, to serve on its Editorial Committee, one of seven bishops whose task it was to prepare a draft of the catechism, conduct a consultation among the bishops of the world and many scholars, and develop a final text under the direction of the Commission of 12 Cardinals of which Cardinal Ratzinger was President.
On August 17, 1995, Levada was appointed coadjutor archbishop of San Francisco, and on December 27 of the same year he succeeded John Raphael Quinn as the archbishop. He held that position until August 17, 2005.
In November 2000, Levada was appointed one of the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he again served under Cardinal Ratzinger. This was a part-time task which allowed him to remain in California.
Also in 2000, Levada became the bishop co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue in the United States. In November 2003, Levada was appointed as chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Doctrine. This was a three-year term, but he resigned in 2005 due to his new duties in Rome and was replaced by Arthur J. Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson.
On September 18, 1998, he was principal consecrator at the episcopal ordination of Monsignor John C. Wester as an auxiliary bishop of San Francisco. On January 30, 2003, he was principal consecrator of Monsignor Ignatius C. Wang as an additional auxiliary bishop of San Francisco. Bishop Wang, a native of Beijing, is the first Chinese and first Asian bishop to be ordained for a diocese in the United States.
Known as a lover of dressing-up, Cardinal Levada also serves as grand prior of the Northwest Lieutenancy (USA) of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and as conventual chaplain for the Western Association (USA) of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.
US sexual abuse scandal involvement
In 1985, as a contact of Boston's Cardinal Law about the issue, Levada was given a report by a three-man panel headed by Father Tom Doyle about medical, legal, and moral issues posed by abusive clerics in an attempt to present the report to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at their June 1985 meeting. A few days later Father Doyle was informed by Levada that their report would not be heard by the bishops. Weeks later, Doyle was demoted from his post in Vatican embassy.
In a 2008 interview for Beliefnet.com Levada said:
I personally do not accept that there has been a broad base of bishops guilty of aiding and abetting pedophiles. If I thought there were, I would certainly want to talk to them about that.
In a response, Father Tom Doyle said:
I vividly recall briefing Levada in May, 1985 when he was an auxiliary bishop, about the sexual abuse crisis. I also have seen volumes of documents and sworn testimony from depositions that clearly shows that most, probably all, bishops clearly knew that priests were raping and otherwise sexually abusing kids as far back as the 1940's and I limit it to that era because I have not gone beyond that in studying documents. So, Levada's statement is either an outright lie or evidence of a very narrow understanding and perception of reality.
As archbishop in Portland, Levada removed Father Joseph Baccellieri, a parish priest accused of child molestation, in 1992 but did not refer the matter to the police. In 1993, he learned of allegations that the priest had abused not one but three male victims. Levada authorized secret payments to the victims after they threatened to make the allegations public in a lawsuit. Levada allowed Baccellieri to return to duty in 1994 after he had undergone therapy and with the condition that he couldn't be around children and couldn't counsel adults or children. Levada did not inform parishioners or law enforcement about the allegations. Baccellieri went on to serve as a pastor or associate pastor in four Portland-area parishes between 1994 and 2001, when he went on leave to study canon law.
In February 2013, Levada told the media that Cardinal Roger Mahony should be allowed to help select the next pope, even though Mahony had obstructed the investigation of child abusers while he headed the church in Los Angeles in the 1980s.
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
On May 13, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Levada as his own successor in the post of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There was some speculation that the Pope may have chosen Levada because the latter had been a principal editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Pontiff's desire to have an American heading the CDF since one of its major roles today is to deal with the fallout from the sexual abuse scandal.
In addition to his position as Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Levada was ex officio the president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the International Theological Commission, and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. He was also a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. On January 5, 2011, he was appointed among the first members of the newly created Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation.
Pope Benedict accepted his resignation as prefect on July 2, 2012. He was succeeded that same day by Gerhard Ludwig Müller.
Head of the Ecclesia Dei Commission
Cardinal Levada, who was already a member of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the organ of the Holy See charged with seeking the reconciliation of the Society of St. Pius X and similar groups with Rome and regulating celebration of the Sacraments according to the 1962 texts in Latin, was appointed its president on July 8, 2009, in accordance with Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio Ecclesiae Unitatem, which makes the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ex officio head of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. However, the Commission has its own staff, consisting of a Secretary and officials.
On May 13, 2011 the instruction Universae Ecclesiae was published which clarified certain aspects of Summorum Pontificum. Cardinal Levada, as president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei signed the document which was approved by Pope Benedict XVI on April 8 and is dated April 30, the Memorial feast of Pope Saint Pius V. The instruction also contains within it the fruits of the triennial examination of the application of the law, which had been planned from the outset.
Reception of Traditional Anglicans
On October 20, 2009, Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Joseph DiNoia held a press conference in which they announced that Pope Benedict was preparing to release an apostolic constitution that was later presented under the title Anglicanorum coetibus that would allow Anglicans, both laity and clergy, to join the Catholic Church and maintain their corporate identity. They stated that "pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy."
The press release envisaged that married Anglican clergy who join the Catholic Church will be ordained to the priesthood, but excluded ordination to the episcopate: "Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop." During the conference, Cardinal Levada compared the new ordinariates to the ordinariate that in many countries exist for the pastoral care of the military forces. The move is to result in an Anglican liturgical rite within the Catholic Church. The personal ordinariates will be established after consultation with the episcopal conferences. It has not been indicated whether there is to be only one such personal ordinariate in a country, as for military ordinariates, or whether there could be a distinct ordinariate for each of several Anglican groups within a country who join the Catholic Church. A joint statement on the new protocol from Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and the Anglican Communion's head, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, occurred at the same time in London.
On October 31, 2009, Cardinal Levada responded to speculation that the rule whereby in some Eastern Catholic Churches ordination to the diaconate and priesthood is open to married men as well as to celibates will apply also to the personal ordinariates for former Anglicans. He made it clear that the canonical discipline of the Western Catholic Church applies to these ordinariates. Objective criteria for circumstances in which a dispensation from celibacy may be requested will be worked out jointly by the personal ordinariate and the episcopal conference.
Cardinal Levada's views generally reflect the conservative wing of the Catholic Church.
Opposition to Abortion
In March 1995, Pope John Paul II confirmed that the Church's teachings against abortion and euthanasia were specific moral norms which the Church's ordinary and universal Magisterium had protected with infallibility. Within 68 days, Levada publicly communicated this in his Arch-diocese, while singling out Catholic politicians that legislated in favour of abortion, "The individual politician, like any Catholic, who is at odds with the teaching of the Church about the principle involved, i.e., that abortion constitutes the killing of innocent human life and is always gravely immoral has an obligation to reflect more deeply on the issue, in the hope of allowing the persuasive character of this infallibly taught teaching to become part of his belief and value system."
A Catholic, to be in full communion with the faith of the Church, must accept this teaching about the evil of abortion and euthanasia. This reflects the Church's official teaching on the matter.
Opposition to LGBT Rights
In 1997, the City of San Francisco passed a law that all companies must provide the same benefits for domestic partners as for their spouses in attempt to extend rights to gay couples and common law heterosexual relationships. Levada objected that this violated Catholic teaching on the unique status of marriage, and circumvented the provisions by stating that unmarried employees of the archdiocese could designate any person sharing the same address as their beneficiary - which meant complying with the statute while in Levada's view avoiding a privileged status for unmarried domestic partnerships.
Levada led a march of approximately 1,000 people through the streets of San Francisco in April 2005 to protest against same sex marriage. He has argued that only a marriage between a man and a woman can create the "bedrock of the family". Anything else "represents a misguided understanding of marriage".His denunciation of gay marriage has led to strong criticism of Levada by LGBT associations.
In 2006, Levada stated that the Archdiocese of San Francisco should stop more carefully avoid allowing gay couples to adopt children locally. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors reacted by unanimously passing a resolution highlighting the discriminatory approach, stating that Levada was "a decidedly unqualified representative of his former home city, and of the people of San Francisco and the values they hold dear,” and that "such hateful and discriminatory rhetoric is insulting and callous, and shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this Board of Supervisors”.
Opposition to Gender Inclusive Language
In 1987, Levada and six other bishops were chosen by Cardinal Ratzinger to edit the forthcoming Catechism of the Catholic Church. When the Catechism was completed in 1993, the first English translation was very loose and used a great deal of inclusive language. Along with Archbishop Eric D'Arcy of Hobart, Australia and Fr. John Wall, Levada insisted that this be replaced with a more literal translation, and it was a new and more literal translation that was published in English in 1994. Levada also authored the glossary for the second edition of the Catechism.
On Catholics who dissent from Catholic teachings Levada has written that "Catholic theology does not recognize the right to dissent, if by that we mean adopting conclusions which are contrary to the clear teachings of the authoritative, infallible magisterium and which are presented to the public in such a way as to constitute equivalently an alternative personal magisterium".
Norms of moral law
In his doctoral dissertation of 1970 in which Levada treated the question of the infallibility of specific moral norms of the natural law, he wrote:
"The human process of formulating moral norms is marked by an essential dependence upon the data of human experience.... The variabilities which marked the human process of its discovery and formulation made such particular applications inherently unsuited to be considered for infallible definition.... For such formulations must remain essentially open to modification and reformulation based upon moral values as they are perceived in relation to the data and the experience which mark man's understanding of himself.... Even though there is nothing to prevent a council or a pope from extending [infallibility] to questions of the natural moral law from the point of view of their authority to do so, nevertheless the "prudential" certitude which characterizes the non-scriptural norms of the natural law argues against such an extension....The Church has never in fact made an infallible declaration about a particular norm of the natural moral law."
While serving as Archbishop of Portland (Oregon) from 1986 to 1995, he was, ex officio, the chair of the board of directors for OCP (formerly known as Oregon Catholic Press). He oversaw its rapid growth to become the largest publisher of English liturgical music, hymnals, missals and support materials for the Catholic Church. He continues to serve on its board of directors.
Interfaith dialogue with Jews
According to rabbi David Rosen, Levada made it clear that there was intrinsic value in conducting interfaith dialogue with Jews even without any ulterior motives of proselytizing. He also made a clear distinction between "witnessing," or sharing the New Testament, and proselytizing, which was wrong.
If both Islam and Christianity view themselves as universal and missionary, it does not mean an impasse but an opportunity to search further into the mystery of that faith to see how it resonates and relates to the other's faith.
Some Traditionalist Catholics complained about Levada's refusal to allow Tridentine Masses to be celebrated publicly in his archdiocese, saying that this was against Pope John Paul II's motu proprio Ecclesia Dei.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Concerning the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he has said that if corrections took place by peers, if there were a functioning process of serious review and assessment in light of Catholic doctrine by theologians competent to evaluate the work of one of their own, there would be much less work for members of the Congregation.
On August 19, 2015, Levada was detained by police in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii for drunk driving, after being observed driving under the influence. He was released from jail after posting $500 bond. After pleading no contest on January 25 2016, he was ordered to pay a fine and fees totalling $462 and had his driving license revoked for one year. His blood alcohol level was 0.168% - more than twice the legal limit.
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- Ecclesiæ Unitatem, no. 6 a
- Ecclesiæ Unitatem, no. 6 b
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-  Archived December 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
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- (Doctoral dissertation, "Lex Naturae et Magisterium Ecclesiae," Pontifical Gregorian University Doctoral Thesis No. 4276/1968, July 18, 1968, Vol. II, p. 617. This thesis was only partially published in English in 1971.)
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- San Francisco Faith, March 1999, online here .
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- , Honolulu Star Advertiser
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- Catholic hierarchy
- Biography of Levada from Archdiocese of San Francisco website
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- Article in National Catholic Reporter by John Allen analyzing the choice of Levada (May 13, 2005)
- Profile of Levada in the San Francisco Chronicle (May 14, 2005)
- Interview with Vatican Radio shortly after his appointment as Prefect
|Catholic Church titles|
Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI)
| Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Gerhard Ludwig Müller
Darío Castrillón Hoyos
| President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei|
John Raphael Quinn
| Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco
George Hugh Niederauer
Cornelius Michael Power
| Roman Catholic Archbishop of Portland
Francis George OMI
| Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles