San Diego Fault

Archbishop-elect Salvatore Cordileone, the Bishop of Oakland and soon-to-be Archbishop of San Francisco, issued a humble statement yesterday about his having been arrested Saturday in a DUI checkpoint.

Catholic World News reports that he “apologized for the ‘disgrace’ caused by his August 25 arrest on drunk-driving charges.” He elaborated:

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.

The Associated Press sought comment from “Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, [who] 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 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 will have to “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.”

Good souls are praying that Carmen McRae’s I’m Always Drunk in San Francisco is no predictor of the future. The lost know they need a shepherd. Hopefully he will hear instead something more like All the Lost Souls Welcome You to San Francisco.

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