Uncle Bill Hits the Road
Levada's off on Wednesday. But, before he goes, the Chronicle gets an exit interview:
As he prepares to leave, he says he faces a "steep learning curve."And a commentary on some cultural traditions:
"As a busy archbishop here and for nine years before in Portland, I could not give attention to every aspect of what the Congregation (of the Doctrine of the Faith) was doing," he said. "So, it's like going back to school and finding out everything that has happened over the last 25 years. It's challenging. You certainly don't want to be a failure."
Asked if he felt pressure to represent American Catholics, he said, "I'm not Dianne Feinstein representing California in the Senate. I'm an American but I'm not chosen to represent America. I'm chosen to do a job for the universal church. Of course I will be influenced by my culture and my experiences...."
He said he has listened, for example, to the discussion around women becoming priests.
"This is a tradition that comes to us from Jesus," he said. "Was he against women? No, in the Gospels, he was very favorable to women, as friends, as disciples. A male priesthood is what we received from Jesus. It has nothing to do with putting women down."
There are times, too, he admits, when he is surprised by where he is in life. He can still be taken aback when the faithful supplicate before him and ask for a blessing. Or when they kiss his ring.
"I have a ring from the pope. It's a good shepherd's ring, a silver design of shepherd and sheep," he said. "I wear that a lot. Sometimes, it depends on the culture, the Filipinos will touch your ring to their forehead. You sometimes worry they're going to whack themselves too hard with the ring and get knocked out."
He looked at the gold watch on his left wrist. He had packing to do.
Smiling as he walked out, he said, "I can say honestly that when I became a priest it was not to get a job as a prefect for a congregation in Rome. It just wasn't on the screen. It's astonishing to me."
Travel safe, buddy. Ci vediamo nel ottobre.