Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a new Archbishop of San Francisco: Salvatore Cordileone. Though his name is not yet widespread, Cordileone, currently the Bishop of Oakland, has already had massive success pushing an anti-equality agenda: he was the heart of the Catholic Church’s strategy to pass Proposition 8 in California, which eliminated marriage equality for millions of Americans.
In 2008, Cordileone and a select cadre of Catholic leaders decided that their best chance to end marriage equality was to pass an amendment to the state constitution. Cordileone found the first major donor and built a lasting fundraising network for the group. He brought in an organization to lead the petition. He activated a network of California’s Catholic churches, and helped craft the Prop 8 messaging campaign, even using focus groups. The campaign was successful in passing Prop 8, making Cordileone a primary reason Californians are currently denied marriage equality. After the amendment passed, Cordileone bragged to a Catholic radio show that gay Americans never saw him coming, and called gay marriage a Satanic plot by “the Evil One” to annihilate morality.
Cordileone has continued to be one of America’s most prominent anti-gay Catholic officials. In January 2011, Cordileone was named the chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, a group dedicated to using religious influence to deny marriage equality. Cordileone is one of only 18 American bishops who have signed the Manhattan Declaration, a pledge to protect “the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty,” even if doing so means violating the law.
Pope Benedict’s choice of Cordileone is exactly wrong for the diocese of San Francisco, a city with a storied history of LGBT pride. It is a further step in the Vatican’s dedication to use Catholic doctrine to keep LGBT Americans suppressed and with fewer rights. In June, the Church publicly condemned Sister Margaret Farley, who wrote a book approving of marriage equality and advocating for comprehensive sex education. Cordileone can be relied on to side with the Vatican in such rebukes of reason and equality, and for that, the Church rewards him.