ARCHBISHOP NIEDERAUER: The Chronicle Speaks
When George Niederauer learned he would be leaving the conservative bastion of Utah to head the Roman Catholic archdiocese in freewheeling San Francisco, he asked his old friend and predecessor in the city, William Levada, for advice.I'm not my paper's church politics expert -- that's Robert Mickens -- but simply a US correspondent. However, I'll take what I can get.
"He told me, 'Take courage,' " Niederauer quipped after his introduction Thursday as the San Francisco Archdiocese's eighth archbishop.
Those who know Niederauer said Thursday that he was well-suited for his new assignment. Several described him as a moderate who has been vocal in opposing the Iraq war, has stood up to the gun lobby, has reached out to immigrant groups and speaks a little Spanish. Gay Catholics said Niederauer appeared to be far from a hard-liner on homosexuality.
"He is Central Casting's ideal type to be the archbishop of San Francisco," said Rocco Palmo, a church politics expert for the Tablet, an international Catholic paper published in London.
As always, there's more:
He isn't a stranger to the Bay Area. Niederauer spent his freshman year at Stanford University before leaving for St. John's Seminary in Ventura County, from which he graduated in 1959. As the holder of a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California, he is one of a handful of U.S. bishops with a doctorate from a secular university, Palmo said.Yeah. There'll be more about this in the days to come.
"He is witty, urbane, cultured -- he drops literature references that aren't just from Scripture," Palmo said. "He's the perfect person to get Catholics a seat at the table in San Francisco."