Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Levada Speaks

In his first interview since arriving in Rome to take the reins of the CDF, Archbishop William Levada gave an extended encounter to Vatican Radio.

"It's a big change," the doctrinal enforcer said of his new responsibilities.

Levada was asked about his "read" of the reasons which led Benedict XVI to name him the highest-ranking American in the history of the Holy See. The interviewer said many people "were surprised" by his appointment to head the former Holy Office.

Many were surprised. I wasn't one of them. But here's what the man of the hour had to say.
"From my ten years as archbishop of a major metropolitan center, of commerce and of media in the United States, San Francisco, [I bring] a sense of the complex pastoral realities that a bishop faces.... The Pope wanted to get someone quickly into this office as his successor, because he knew that if this Congregation were left headless, you could say, for a long period of time, the work would not effectively go forward.... I think he found me because he had known me, I was a member of the Congregation, I had worked here, I think that he felt experience at this point was something that counted a lot for him."
On being informed of his appointment in an audience with the Pope on 3 May -- the same day this appeared -- Levada said he "gasped, and said, 'Holy Father, I'm not the person for that.' He said 'Yes you are,' and gave me his reasons."

Alongside Levada's experience factor (he spent six years as an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1976 until his 1982 ordination as an auxiliary bishop of his native Los Angeles), he offered that the Pope was also thinking of "The fact that the Congregation now has responsibility... for dealing with issues of sexual abuse of minors by priests, by clergy. That given the experience of that, the explosion of that, on the American scene over the past few years, my experience with that both as a local bishop and as a member of the mixed commission that was sent over here by our [US] Conference [of Catholic Bishops] to iron out some differences in our approach here with the Vatican; those things i think probably also may have said to him maybe it wouldn't be bad to have someone also who has this experience.

You know, somebody else said the same thing back in May, two days before the CDF appointment was announced....
Palmo noted that Levada has extensive experience dealing with the sexual abuse scandal in the U.S. church.

"He has on-the-ground experience in the United States," Palmo said. "That is priceless."
Who has known the mind of Papa Ratzi, again?

Beyond his own duties, the Grand Inquisitor did offer up a pointed critique of a central element of the recently-concluded Synod of Bishops, saying that the 50 propositions presented for a vote on the floor of the Aula "didn't capture the very beautiful and inspiring interventions that many bishops gave from their experience around the world." Citing as an example the intervention of president-delegate Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi, India, the soon-to-be Cardinal-Prefect mentioned "The love for the Eucharist that missionaries would bring to that low-caste tribe: the idea that Christ would come to abide with [the people], to be with them and to give himself to them. What that did for their own sense of self-worth it gave them, how it transformed their culture.

"There's nothing of that in the propositions," he said.

Levada announced that, indeed, Benedict XVI will release a Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "over the next year," and expressed his hope that the Pope will "put something of those beautiful interventions into the work product that goes into [the final document]."