Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop-Elect Busted for DUI, Prays God Will Help Him
However, the bishop was allegedly still above the legal .08 limit, so he spent the night in jail. He left his cell around noon that same day on a $2,500 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 9 -- five days after he officially begins his new position in San Francisco.
"I apologize for my error in judgment and feel shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the church and myself," Cordileone, who is currently bishop of the Oakland diocese, said in a statement. "I will repay my debt to society and I ask forgiveness from my family and my friends and co-workers at the Diocese of Oakland and the Archdiocese of San Francisco. I pray that God, in his inscrutable wisdom, will bring some good out of this."
When the Vatican announced that Cordileone would replace retiring Archbishop George Niederauer, some in San Francisco were disappointed. Cordileone, who is fluent in Spanish, spent his early years as a priest in San Diego, his hometown, ministering to low-income Latino communities near the border. Still, he is best known as a prominent voice against gay marriage; he helped create Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in California, which voters passed in 2008 with 52 percent support. In 2011, he rose to chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
Many San Francisco Catholics who support gay marriage saw the appointment as the Vatican's effort to pull the city closer to orthodoxy.
It doesn't appear that this arrest will change his future plans to be the Archbishop here. Cordileone reports directly to the Vatican, so he could only be reassigned by order of the Pope. But Cordileone's mistake is not unprecedented. As the Chronicle reported:
"There's no canonical reason for him to not continue as archbishop," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a visiting scholar at Santa Clara University, a Catholic university run by Jesuits.
Over the decades, other bishops have been arrested on DUI charges, but many had other criminal charges at play as well. Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien of the Diocese of Phoenix was convicted in 2004 of leaving the scene of a fatal accident. He resigned.
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The most comparable example to Cordileone might be that of St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop John Roach, who pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge in 1985. Like Cordileone, Roach was contrite.