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New San Francisco archbishop appointed by pope

July 27, 2012 |  6:50 pm

The Vatican on Friday named the bishop of Oakland, a leading opponent of gay marriage, as archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco.

The appointment of Salvatore J. Cordileone, 56, by Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to be announced formally at a news conference Saturday, the archdiocese said in a statement.

Cordileone will lead more than half a million Catholics in 91 parishes in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties and will be in charge of more than 400 priests. He will also oversee the dioceses of San Jose, Oakland, Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Stockton, Reno, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Honolulu.

Cordileone, a prominent backer of Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative banning same-sex marriage in California, will replace outgoing Archbishop George H. Niederauer, 76.

Cordileone said in a statement that he was humbled by his selection. “I trust that, even with my limitations and shortcomings, God’s will is being accomplished in the midst of this unexpected call in my service to the Church."

Cordileone was ordained a priest in 1982 and became pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Calexico, Calif. In 1995 he was sent to Rome and spent seven years as an assistant at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest judicial body.

In 2002 Cordileone was appointed auxiliary bishop of San Diego, where he was born. He was named bishop of Oakland in 2009, where according to the archdiocese’s statement, his service “has given him a deep understanding of the radically diverse cultural composition of the Bay Area and a dedication to multicultural ministry.” He is fluent in Spanish.

Last year he was appointed chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, which works to promote traditional marriage through education programs and policy advocacy.

“The reality of marriage as the union of a mother and a father is grounded in our very biology,” Cordileone told the National Catholic Register last year.

Pro-gay-marriage groups expressed disappointment in the Vatican’s selection of Cordileone.

“Bishop Cordileone has proven himself to be an anti-gay activist who encourages and promotes discrimination against LGBT people,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

Cordileone will be officially installed as archbishop in a Mass on Oct. 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron of the archdiocese.

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-- Tony Barboza

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