Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 23, 2005
American named dogma watchdog
By By Catholic News Service
Pope Benedict XVI named Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican agency charged with protecting and promoting the Church's teachings on faith and morals.
It is the first time an American has headed the congregation. It is considered primary in responsibility and influence among the Vatican's nine congregations.
Pope Benedict was prefect of the doctrinal congregation from 1981 until April.
In naming Levada, 68, the pope chose someone who was a congregation staff member from 1976 to 1982 and has been a bishop-member of the congregation since 2000.
Levada, who has headed the Archdiocese of San Francisco since 1995, has had experience with the pastoral side of an issue that has drawn increasing attention from the doctrinal congregation: same-sex marriage proposals.
Levada has said that on the homosexuality issue, his own experience in San Francisco has taught him how easily dialogue can be overtaken by political pressure.
"The city's human rights commission named me as contributing to a 'climate' of discrimination against homosexuals because I said public recognition should not be given to so-called 'gay marriages.'"
In 2004, Levada helped lead a prayer rally for the defence and promotion of marriage after the city of San Francisco decided to issue same-sex marriage licences.
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