When Bishop Salvatore Cordileone was named the next Archbishop of San Francisco—a move that will take him across the Bay from Oakland—liberals became unhinged. They insisted that Cordileone was an arch-conservative! A culture warrior! A radical (but not in the way San Franciscans find endearing)! His appointment was perceived as a stick-in-the-eye to the famously progressive City by the Bay. One local newspaper called him, believe it or not, “The worst archbishop ever.”
So just how “bad” is Archbishop Cordileone? Here’s a recent story from the San Francisco Chronicle about San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer parish, “arguably the largest gay parish in the nation.” This snippet should give you an idea of what some San Franciscans see as the Archbishop-designate’s deep-seated backwardness:
When the archdiocese refused to allow drag queens to serve as emcees for charity events at the church’s community hall, it fed rampant paranoia about antigay sentiment. The decision was initially blamed on incoming Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage who has been championed by extreme conservative Catholic groups. Some read the drag-queen ban as a calculated slap in the face.
What kind of regressive kill-joy nixes the parish drag queens? A face-slapping radical like Salvatore Cordileone, that’s who!
Now, just so we’re clear, the Archbishop-designate is radical—and he wants the rest of us to be radical, too—just not in the way some of the nervous parishioners of Most Holy Redeemer might think.
Here’s Cordileone in his own words, taken from the homily of his installation Mass as Bishop of Oakland in 2009:
Christ is the answer. Let us draw near to him, and abide in him, so that we will not be tossed about by the waves of deception and swept along by the teachings of destructive imposters. This means that we must claim Jesus Christ as our only ruler; it means that we place ourselves completely under his dominion. Let there be no doubt: if, as his Church, we are to be his faithful bride, it means that Jesus Christ must have dominion over every aspect of our life.
Christian discipleship demands of us everything. We all are asked to abandon the sins to which we cling, to die to sin, to pick up our cross and follow Him. While some undoubtedly carry heavier crosses than others, the brokenness of our fallen nature extends equally to people with same-sex attraction as it does to anyone else. In this one regard—sin—no one is special.
Yet Christ marks us as His very own. He lays claim to us—to our every desire, hope, aspiration, and longing—indeed, to our very being. He does this so that, having died with Him in baptism, we might also rise with Him. He transforms us, renews us, remakes us, until, like St. Paul, we might say, “It is not I that live, but Christ who lives in me.”
All because He loves us.
Such is the profound conversion of true, radical discipleship and the freedom of complete abandonment in Christ. Such is the “narrow way” that leads inevitably to Calvary, but it is also our “easy burden” and the path to everlasting life. He came to show us this way. For this He was born; for this He suffered; for this He died. To this He calls us all, and to accomplish this, He inundates the world with his grace and sends the Holy Spirit. His is, truly, our Most Holy Redeemer.
All because He loves us.
Now, considering the gratuity of His love and the magnitude of our vocation—our unimaginably, infinitely, cosmically radical vocation—is it really too much to ask, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that we stop with the drag-queen shows? I’m sure your new Archbishop would appreciate it.
After all, he loves you.
Stephen P. White is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC and coordinator of the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society. The views expressed here are his own.