May 13, 2005

The Word From Rome



On May 13, as had long been rumored, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop William J. Levada of San Francisco as the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Why Levada?

First, he has a solid theological background. He wrote his doctoral thesis in theology at Rome's Gregorian University under the direction of Jesuit Fr. Francis Sullivan, widely regarded as one of the best minds in ecclesiology of the 20th century. The subject of Levada's dissertation was "The Infallible Church Magisterium and the Natural Moral Law," examining how the magisterium understands natural law, and especially its binding force. Levada reviewed a range of theological opinions and drew what one observer described as "balanced, judicious" conclusions. Given the way that moral questions, especially on sexual issues and biotechnology, are among the most contentious matters the doctrinal congregation handles, it's a background that would serve Levada well. ...

Fourth, since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has the juridical responsibility for handling cases of priests accused of sexual abuse, Levada's background as a member of the U.S. bishops' conference and the "mixed commission" that worked out the American norms means that he would bring an insider's understanding to those issues, and become a powerful voice in setting Vatican policy on the sexual abuse issue.

Posted by kshaw at May 13, 2005 10:49 AM