Earlier this week Cardinal William Levada, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and, before that, Archbishop of San Francisco was arrested in Hawaii for driving under the influence of alcohol. Levada, you may recall, was the bull dog sicced on the good Sisters of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious because they were suspect of supposedly unspeakable heresies. The charges against the nuns were later dropped. The charges against His Eminence probably won’t be.
Despite his complicity in the LCWR mauling, Levada isn’t a bad man. Like many who rose to power under Benedict and John Paul he was a careerist who bent his conscience and sold his soul to the prevailing winds of Church politics. He had some good pastoral sense in his days as Archbishop of a very complex city. While he stood firm on the Church’s teachings on abortion and on same-sex relationships, he refused to follow the lead of Archbishops Burke and Chaput to desacrate the Eucharist by making it a weapon in the culture wars over abortion or same-sex marriage. When the City of San Francisco passed a regulation that all agencies dealing with the city had to offer spousal benefits for those in same-sex unions, the Archbishop bypassed the controversy by permitting Archdiocesan employees to designate any one person whomsoever of their choice—traditional spouse, parent, child, “friend,” milkman—regardless of relationship, as beneficiary. It is hard to say why he agreed to go after the nuns. The criminal minds behind that debacle were our old buddies Raymond Burke, William Lori, Bernard Law (aka the unholy trinity) and buffoon-in-residence, Carl Anderson—the grand poobah of the Knights of Columbus. It may have been Benedict himself who ordered the inquisition; we will probably never know. Pope Francis put an end to the nunsense however several months ago.
Pope Benedict replaced Cardinal Levada as the Grand Inquisitor with Gerhard Ludwig Müller when Levada turned 75. It is normal for Cardinals who are not residential Archbishops to remain resident in Rome at least until their 80th birthday as they remain members of the various congregations, but Francis (distanced himself from and) dismissed Cardinal Levada from this tiresome obligation and His Eminence joined other retired Archbishops of San Francisco living at Saint Patrick’s Seminar in Menlo Park.
When he was in office in Rome Cardinal Levada was a cherished icon of the Katholik Krazies. They had had some misgivings at first given his pastoral solution to the complexities of San Francisco’s “diverse” population but had been won over by his hard line on the nuns and on other issues and especially by the support he received from Pope Benedict. But it is interesting to see how they have turned on him now. One particularly cheesy Krazy blog, Eponymous Flower, has gone on, without any evidence, to “expose” Levada’s “gay lifestyle,” claiming that he is “shacked up” with “life partner” and his successor in San Francisco, Archbishop George Niederauer, and implying that the night of the arrest the two were out in various gay bars on The Big Island. In fact, Levada was alone when arrested for drunk driving and there is no mention anywhere of his having been at a bar of any sort. But you see, this is how the crazies are. They are so filled with anger that they devour their own when a more liberal target isn’t available. The point of this entry isn’t about a Cardinal who had too much to drink—a sin many of us have shared at one time or another. Or about a prelate who got behind the wheel of a car when intoxicated—a far more serious sin. But it is about the tendency of the Krazies to make up stories and piss in the dirt to make mud to sling at whoever happens to be the object of their wrath. Nice going, Eponymous Flower—a few more Krazies like you and the neo-traditional movement will be gone forever and never missed by Christians anywhere. Oremus.