Monday, August 27, 2012

Archbishop: 'Error in judgment' in San Diego DUI arrest


SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The newly appointed archbishop of San Francisco released a statement Monday responding to reports of his arrest in San Diego over the weekend for DUI.
Bishop Salvatore Cordileone was taken into custody early Saturday at a DUI checkpoint in the College Area.
He released the following statement Monday afternoon:
"While visiting in San Diego this past weekend, I had dinner at the home of some friends along with a priest friend visiting from outside the country and my mother, who lives near San  Diego State University. While driving my mother home, I passed through a DUI checkpoint the police had set up near the SDSU campus before I reached her home, and was found to be over the California legal blood alcohol level.
"I apologize for my error in judgment and feel shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself. I will repay my debt to society and I ask forgiveness from my family and my friends and co-workers at the Diocese of Oakland and the Archdiocese of San Francisco.  I pray that God, in His inscrutable wisdom, will bring some good out of this."
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Roman Catholic archbishop-elect of San Francisco was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, San Diego police said Monday.
The Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, a vigorous supporter of California's same-sex marriage ban, was taken into custody after being stopped early Saturday at a police checkpoint near the San Diego State University campus, said Detective Gary Hassen, a police spokesman. He declined to comment on whether Cordileone took a sobriety test or to reveal his blood-alcohol content.
The stop was made at 12:26 a.m. on the outskirts of the campus, a residential area of modest houses, apartment buildings and restaurants where college students mix with the general population.
Cordileone was booked into San Diego County jail two hours after being stopped and then released at 11:59 a.m. Saturday on $2,500 bond, sheriff's records show. He was ordered to appear in court Oct. 9.
The San Diego city attorney's office, which prosecutes misdemeanor DUI offenses, said it had not received a report on the arrest.
The San Francisco archdiocese did not immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment.
Canon law experts said a criminal charge would not automatically prompt a delay in Cordileone's installation as archbishop, which is scheduled to take place at St. Mary's Cathedral on Oct. 4, the feast day of San Francisco's patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi.
Because Catholic bishops are answerable only to the pope, any potential discipline would have to come from the Vatican, said Michael Ritty, a canon lawyer in private practice in upstate New York.
"If there was anything, it would be handled in Rome, most likely by the Congregation for Bishops. Depending on the question or type of criminal charge, it might go directly to the Pope or as directly as you can get," Ritty said.
Cordileone, 56, is a native of San Diego, where he was ordained as a priest in 1982. In July, Pope Benedict XVI selected him to replace Archbishop George Niederauer, who is retiring in October. Cordileone was most recently bishop of Oakland, and several years ago, he was an auxiliary bishop in San Diego.
The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, predicted that Cordileone's arrest, while embarrassing, would only draw a response from Rome if it appeared he had a serious substance abuse problem that prevented him from carrying out the archbishop's duties.
"The bottom line is there is no real requirement that he resign," Reese said. "If he is an out-of-control alcoholic who can't function, that would be an issue, but obviously he has been the bishop of Oakland all these years and he seems to be able to function. Nobody knows if he has a drinking problem or was one fraction over the (blood alcohol) limit."
Noting that forgiveness is an integral part of the Catholic faith, Reese recalled the 1985 DUI arrest of the late Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Roach, who pleaded guilty and served two days in jail but remained popular in the post for another decade.
Cordileone "is going to have to come forward and explain this to people, and depending on what he does and how it's perceived, we'll see how it goes" he said. "It could make him more human."
While serving in San Diego four years ago, Cordileone was instrumental in devising an initiative to strip same-sex couples of the right to wed in California. He was part of a statewide network of clergy that promoted the measure, known as Proposition 8. Campaign finance records show he personally gave at least $6,000 to back the voter-approved ban.
Since last year, Cordileone has been chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
At a news conference last month, he said he thought the Roman Catholic Church had come a long way in addressing the issue of clergy sex abuse and reiterated his opposition to gay marriage.
"Marriage can only come about through the embrace of a man and a woman coming together," he said. "I don't see how that is discriminatory against anyone."
The archdiocese serves more than 400,000 Catholics in the city and Marin and San Mateo counties. As archbishop, he will oversee the bishops in Honolulu, Las Vegas, Oakland, Reno, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Santa Rosa, and Stockton.

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