William Levada

William Levada

Infobox Cardinal
honorific-prefix =
name = William Joseph Levada
honorific-suffix =
title = Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

caption =
province =
diocese =
see = San Francisco (Emeritus)
enthroned = May 13, 2005
ended = Incumbent
predecessor = Joseph Ratzinger
successor =
ordination =
consecration =
cardinal = March 24, 2006
rank =
other_post = Archbishop of San Francisco
birth_name =
birth_date = Birth date and age|1936|6|15|mf=y
birthplace = Long Beach, California
death_date =
deathplace =
buried =
nationality =
religion =
residence =
parents =
spouse =
children =
ocupation =
profession =
alma_mater =

infobox cardinalstyles
cardinal name=William Joseph Cardinal Levada
dipstyle=His Eminence
offstyle=Your Eminence
See=San Francisco (emeritus)|

William Joseph Cardinal Levada (born June 15, 1936) is an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He currently serves as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Roman Curia, previously serving as Archbishop of Portland (Oregon) from 1986 to 1995 and Archbishop of San Francisco from 1995 to 2005. Levada was elevated to the cardinalate in 2006.


Early life and clerical formation

William Joseph Levada was born in Long Beach, California, to Joseph and Lorraine (née Nunez) Levada, both natives of Concord. His older sister, Dolores, died on May 21, 2007.

His great-grandparents came from Portugalcite web| title = Distinguished Americans & Canadians of Portuguese Descent| url= http://www.portuguesefoundation.org/famous.htm|accessdate = 2008-01-09] and Ireland, and immigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1860s. He grew up in Long Beach and Houston, Texas, attended St. Anthony High School and then St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, part of the Roman Catholic Archidiocese of Los Angeles.

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 O'Connor, rector of the Pontifical North American College and president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in St. Peter's Basilica.

Priestly ministry

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 returned to the United States and taught theology at St. John's Seminary School of Theology in Camarillo, California. During this time 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. During this time, he 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 (Franjo Seper and Joseph Ratzinger).

In 1982, Timothy Cardinal Manning Archbishop of Los Angeles named Levada as the Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops in Sacramento.

Episcopal ministry

Levada was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and titular bishop of "Capreae" on 25 March 1983, and was consecrated by Cardinal Manning (with Bishops John Ward and Juan Arzube as co-consecrators) in the Cathedral of St. Vibiana on 12 May 1983. 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 1 July 1986, Levada became the Archbishop of Portland. During his tenure in Portland, Levada help to revitalize Mount Angel Seminary; Levada briefly taught at the seminary as well. Other accomplishments 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, 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 17 August 1995, Levada was appointed coadjutor archbishop of San Francisco, and on 27 December of the same year he succeeded John Raphael Quinn as the archbishop. Some of Levada's most famous actions as Archbishop of San Francisco involved in the issues surrounding gay 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. Levada objected that this violated Catholic teaching on the unique status of marriage, but the city would not budge. Levada's solution was seen as a compromise in some circles and a brilliant move in others: He ruled that unmarried employees of the archdiocese could designate "any" person sharing the same address as their beneficiary. This complied with the statute while avoiding a privileged status for unmarried domestic partnerships. Levada also allowed a predominantly gay and lesbian parish in the Castro district, Most Holy Redeemer Church to remain active in the Archdiocese.

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 let him 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 18 September 1998, he was principal consecrator at the episcopal ordination of Monsignor John Wester as an auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco. In January 30, 2003, he was again principal consecrator of Monsignor Ignatius C. Wang as a second 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.

Some have criticized how Levada dealt priests who had committed sexual abuse in Portland and in San Francisco. ["San Francisco Chronicle", May 21, 2003, online [http://www.sfweekly.com/issues/2003-05-21/news/feature_1.html here] .] According to Catholics for a Free Choice, a pro-abortion rights lobbying group not affiliated with the Catholic Church, Levada "shielded a pedophile in the Diocese of Portland, Ore., for approximately nine years, which helped lead to the bankruptcy of the diocese and earned the wrath of survivor groups for his actions on the Vatican’s commission to revise the US bishops’ sex abuse norms. He has been criticized by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) for failing to remove priests accused of sexual abuse from active ministry and for keeping documents about those priests secret." [Catholics for a Free Choice, "The Making of a Papacy: A Report on the First One Hundred Days of Pope Benedict XVI", July 2005, online [http://www.pope-watch.org/first100daysreport.pdf here] .] As President and Chancellor of Saint Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, Archbishop Levada has had to deal with the dismissal of his academic dean at the seminary, Fr. Carl Anthony Schipper, after the dean's arrest in Santa Rosa on charges apparently related to child pornography and sexual abuse. ["The Almanac" (Menlo Park, California), March 8, 2000, online [http://www.almanacnews.com/morgue/2000/2000_03_08.sex.html here] .]

Many Traditionalist Catholics were unhappy with Levada's refusal to allow Tridentine Masses to be celebrated in his Archdiocese. ["San Francisco Faith", March 1999, online [http://www.sffaith.com/ed/articles/1999/0399gm2.htm here] .] Since his tenure in San Francisco and his move to Rome, Levada has been appointed a member of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. This is the organ of the Holy See charged with both the regulating celebration of the Sacraments according to the 1962 texts in Latin and reconciliation of the Society of St. Pius X and similar groups with Rome.

Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

On May 13, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Levada as successor to himself, as Cardinal Ratzinger, in the post Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

It was commonly speculated that the pope's reasons for choosing Levada may have included the fact that Levada had been a principal editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the fact that the two of them had worked together at the CDF in the past, and the pope'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.

Levada resigned as Archbishop of San Francisco effective August 17, 2005, the tenth anniversary of the announcement of his appointment as coadjutor to San Francisco. One of his last official duties as metropolitan bishop was to serve as principal consecrator of Clarence Richard Silva as the new Bishop of Honolulu, since Honolulu is a suffragan diocese of the San Francisco ecclesiastical province. Levada was replaced in San Francisco as Archbishop by high school classmate George Niederauer.

On 22 February 2006, Benedict XVI announced that Levada was to be elevated to the College of Cardinals, a nomination which was much foreseen, given his Curial position. As a result of his elevation, Cardinal Levada is now eligible to participate in any future papal conclaves that begin before his 80th birthday on June 15, 2016. On the following 24 March, Levada was named the Cardinal Deacon of "S. Maria in Domnica".

In addition to his position as Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Levada is the president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission. Levada's other curial positions include membership in the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. [ [http://www.vatican.va/news_services/press/documentazione/documents/cardinali_biografie/cardinali_bio_levada_wj_en.html "Levada, Card. William Joseph"] , "College of Cardinals Biographical Notes", Holy See Press Office, url accessed March 18, 2007]

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued and published on May 29, 2008, in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, a decree signed by Cardinal Levada, as Prefect of the Congregation, on the existing ban on women priests by asserting that women priests and the bishops who ordain them would be excommunicated "latae sententiae". [ [http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL2986418520080529?sp=true Vatican says will excommunicate women priests] from Reuters] [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/05/30/vatican.women.priests/ Vatican sends threat over women priests] From CNN]

Levada's views on theology and society

Cardinal Levada's views mostly reflect the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. However, with regard to certain disputed and controversial topics, the following quotes from Levada are pertinent.

On Catholic teachers who dissent from Catholic teachings:

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, noninfallible magisterium and which are presented to the public in such a way as to constitute equivalently an alternative personal magisterium. ["Dissent and the Catholic Religion Teacher", Speech to National Catholic Educational Association, April 2, 1986. Printed in "Origins", v. 16 (1986), pp. 195-200. Reprinted in "Readings in Moral Theology No. 6: Dissent in the Church", ed. by Charles Curran and Richard McCormick, Paulist Press, 1988, pp. 133-151, ISBN 0-8091-2930-2.]

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...." [(Doctoral dissertation, Infallible Church Magisterium and the Natural Law, 1971)]

In March 1995, Pope John Paul II, however explicitly confirmed that the Church's teachings against murder (par. 57), abortion (par. 62), and euthanasia (par. 65) were, in fact, specific moral norms which the Church's ordinary and universal Magisterium had protected with infallibility.

Within 68 days, Levada publicly stated, in contrast to the conclusion he reached in 1970, that the Catholic Church's teaching regarding the immorality of directly-willed abortion had been infallibly taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium:

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 (cf. "Evangelium Vitae", nn. 57-62), 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. I say infallibly taught not because Pope John Paul II has assumed in "Evangelium Vitae" the special prerogative recognized for individual papal teachings in the First Vatican Council, but rather because he has called attention explicitly to the fact that Catholic teaching on abortion has been an infallible doctrine of the Church by virtue of the universal ordinary Magisterium, recognized for the teachings of the Pope and worldwide college of bishops together by the Second Vatican Council. [From "The Catholic Sentinel", 6/2/1995.]

Some argue that the two statements indicate a change in Levada's views, suggesting that he altered his views to conform to the Pope's statement. However, this ignores the 25 years intervening between his dissertation and "Evangelium Vitae," during which he surely matured in his views. However again, there is very little contradiction between these two statements. The young Levada merely questions whether the prudential judgements of Natural Law are themselves infallible. Then he suggests that it is unwise for the Holy Father to exercise infallible authority on specifically non-scriptural matters of natural law

In "Evangelium Vitae," John Paul was writing about a specific principle of natural law, found in Scripture, and declaring that the principle is protected by infallibility. Since the passage in Levada's dissertation refers to principles of natural law that are not found in Scripture, there is really no conflict between the two viewpoints.

Addressing the issue of homosexual activity, Levada led a march of approximately 1,000 people through the streets of San Francisco in April 2005 to protest gay marriage. For his denunciation of same-sex marriage, Levada has been criticized by LGBT associations. He wrote in 2004:

Heterosexual marriage, procreation and the nurturing of children form the bedrock of the family, and the family unit lies at the heart of every society. To extend the meaning of marriage beyond a union of a man and a woman, their procreative capacity, and their establishment of family represents a misguided understanding of marriage.

On Catholic politicians:

A Catholic, to be in full communion with the faith of the Church, must accept this teaching about the evil of abortion and euthanasia.

On Islam:

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.

ignificance of Levada's role

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Levada is the principal defender of all the moral and theological doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, sometimes acting as chief prosecutor against members of the Church who have strayed from those values. As the most influential position in the government of the Church apart from the Holy Father himself, Levada is considered the highest ranking American in the institution.

Other Americans heading dicasteries in the Roman Curia and associated institutions include James Francis Stafford, Major Penitentiary; and James Michael Harvey, Prefect of the Pontifical Household.


*On slavery: "There is a long tradition in the church of accepting the institution of slavery, but in the light of the repeated teachings of modern popes and the Second Vatican Council on the dignity of the human person, church teaching has evolved from acceptance of slavery as part of the human condition to its eventual condemnation."

* On the CDF: "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 us to do in the congregation."

* On the Protestant church: "According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense" [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the church;<=en#TESTO%20IN%20LINGUA%20INGLESE]

Episcopal Succession

date of consecration=May 23 1983
consecrated by=Timothy Manning
bishopconsecrated1 = bishopconsecrated1
bishop 1=Tod David Brown
consecration date 1=April 3 1989
bishopconsecrated2 = bishopconsecrated2
bishop 2=Alexander Joseph Brunett
consecration date 2=July 6 1994
bishopconsecrated3 = bishopconsecrated3
bishop 3=John Charles Wester
consecration date 3=September 18 1998
bishopconsecrated4 = bishopconsecrated4
bishop 4=Joseph Anthony Pepe
consecration date 4=May 31 2001
bishopconsecrated5 = bishopconsecrated5
bishop 5=Ignatius Chung Wang
consecration date 5=January 30 2003
bishopconsecrated6 = bishopconsecrated6
bishop 6=Clarence Richard Silva
consecration date 6=July 21 2005
bishopconsecrated7 = null
bishop 7=
consecration date 7=
bishopconsecrated8 = null
bishop 8=
consecration date 8=
bishopconsecrated9 = null
bishop 9=
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bishopconsecrated10 = null
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bishopconsecrated11 = null
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bishopconsecrated12 = null
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Additional sources

* [http://www.catholic-pages.com/hierarchy/cardinals_bio.asp?ref=232 Catholic hierarchy]
* [http://www.sfarchdiocese.org/archbishop.html Biography of Levada from Archdiocese of San Francisco website]
* [http://www.sfarchdiocese.org/ablappointment2005.html Statement of Levada on his appointment as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] (May 13, 2005)
* [http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/word/word051305.htm Article in "National Catholic Reporter" by John Allen analyzing the choice of Levada] (May 13, 2005)
* [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/05/14/MNGIRCPBFO1.DTL Profile of Levada in the "San Francisco Chronicle"] (May 14, 2005)
* [http://www.mhr.org Most Holy Redeemer Parish] (May 17, 2005)
* [http://www.radiovaticana.org/en1/Articolo.asp?c=54168 Interview with Vatican Radio shortly after his appointment as Prefect]
* [http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2007/03/levada-i-am-not-responsible-for.html Interview with interesting remarks in March 2007]

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