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CURRENT ISSUE:  March 30 , 2009
VOL. 47, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Read Bishop Cordileone's first statement as Bishop of Oakland.
Vigil for slain Oakland police officers
Bishop Salvatore Cordileone
named Oakland’s new bishop

Auxiliary bishop of San Diego is a canon lawyer
Bishop Salvatore Cordileone stands in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Light from which he will lead the Oakland Diocese. He visited the cathedral on March 23 after the public announcement of his appointment to Oakland. He had previously toured the cathedral when he was in the Bay Area to participate in the annual Walk for Life.

Bishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, newly appointed by Pope Benedict as the fourth bishop of Oakland, brought his pastoral care to the City of Oakland March 23, two days after four of its police officers were slain in a volley of gunfire by a parolee.

Speaking at a press conference at the Cathedral of Christ the Light just hours after his appointment was made public, Bishop Cordileone offered his condolences to the families of the slain officers and said he was praying that “through faith in the God of life, they may find peace in the midst of suffering, light in the midst of darkness, hope in the midst of despair.”

The tragedy, he said, points to the great need to build “God’s kingdom in our communities.”

Bishop Cordileone said the urban violence plaguing Oakland and other parts of the East Bay, comes, in part, because “we are in a fatherless society.” Boys and young men need positive male mentors, he said, and the Church must continue to emphasize family life.

He also said that reaching out to youth through youth ministry will help young people, especially teens from impoverished backgrounds. He said teens need to be given “opportunities to serve others who are poor like themselves. Then they see the gratitude. It can be a life changing experience.”

Bishop Cordileone, 52, has been auxiliary bishop of San Diego since August 2002 and succeeds Bishop Allen Vigneron who became archbishop of Detroit in January of this year.

Bishop Cordileone said he was “humbled and honored” by the trust Pope Benedict XVI had in sending him to the Oakland Diocese and said he looks forward to serving the Church here.

A native of San Diego, he attended public elementary and high schools and San Diego State University before enrolling in St. Francis Seminary at the University of San Diego, where he earned a B.A. in philosophy in 1978. He graduated from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1981 and was ordained a priest in 1982.

After ordination, he served for three years as associate pastor of St. Martin of Tours Parish in La Mesa, California, then he returned to Rome where he earned a doctorate in canon law in 1989.

He came back to San Diego and served as secretary to the coadjutor bishop and in the canon law department until his appointment in 1991 as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in the border city of Calexico. He speaks fluent Spanish in addition to Italian, which he learned while studying in Rome.

Hector Medina, director of Latino ministry in the Oakland Diocese, said the bishop’s four years in Calexico have given him a unique perspective on the struggles of Hispanic immigrants. Medina foresees that Bishop Cordileone will be able to “hear stories of the people in context.”

Bishop Salvatore Cordileone greets Peggy Maurer, administrative assistant in the clergy services department, during his tour of diocesan offices, March 23. With him is Father Dan Danielson, diocesan administrator.
Likewise, Father Paul Minnihan, provost of the Oakland cathedral, applauded the bishop’s presence to ethnic communities in San Diego and said he anticipates a similar connection with the people of the Oakland Diocese.

In an article in the University of San Diego Magazine shortly after his episcopal ordination in 2002, Bishop Cordileone said he felt “right at home” when he arrived in Calexico. “The culture was so similar to the family I had when I was little. Like Sicilians, there was that same devotion to saints, processions, and large family gatherings. I couldn’t have a parish event on a Sunday because everyone was at their families’ homes, like ours.”

Bishop Cordileone returned to Rome in 1995 to work as an assistant at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest judicial court.

Father Steven Lopes, a priest of the San Francisco Archdiocese now working in Rome, called Bishop Cordileone a “brilliant canonist.” In an email to The Voice, Father Lopes recalled a class on canon law at the North American College in Rome. “What impressed me most about Msgr. Cordileone’s presentations on marriage law was that it was not a matter of technicalities. He had a very pastoral sense of the Church’s law and urged us to see the canons both as expressing the Church’s living faith and protecting the rights of the faithful.”

As head of the Oakland Diocese, Bishop Cordileone will be the chief shepherd for over 550,000 Catholics who reside in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The diocese, created in 1962, has 84 parishes and more than a dozen ethnic pastoral centers.

Father Jeffrey Keyes, pastor of St. Edward Parish in Newark, said he is encouraged by the bishop’s love for the liturgy and his fluency with Spanish, making Oakland a natural place for him.

“I’ve heard lots of good things about him. A Los Angeles blog is unhappy he’s coming to Oakland because the people want him in L.A. A San Diego blog reports that people are unhappy there because he is leaving.”

Msgr. Daniel Cardelli, pastor emeritus of St. Isidore Parish in Danville and diocesan chaplain for the Italian Catholic Federation, also expressed delight at the bishop’s appointment to Oakland.

“This is great. First we had a French Canadian bishop (Floyd L. Begin), followed by a hometown Irish boy (John S. Cummins), followed by another French Canadian wise man from the East (Allen Vigneron). Now we’ve got it just right with an Italian.

“Bishop Cordileone is young, energetic, a well-educated canon lawyer with parish experience. I’m looking forward to his youthful energy.”

Bishop Cordileone has served on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance and on the bishops’ Task Force on Cultural Diversity. Most recently, he was active in the successful effort to pass Proposition 8 which declared that only marriage between a man and a woman is recognized in California.

Bishop Cordileone will be installed as Oakland’s bishop at noon on May 5 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light. Until that time, Father Daniel Danielson, diocesan administrator, remains in charge of the day-to-day business of the diocese. Father Danielson was elected to that post by the priests who form the College of Consultors after Bishop Vigneron became archbishop in Detroit.

Bishop Cordileone will preside at the Chrism Mass in the Cathedral of Christ the Light on April 2 at 7 p.m. He will preside at the 10 a.m. Mass on Palm Sunday, April 5; the Passion of the Lord service on Good Friday, April 10, at 12:10 p.m.; the Easter Vigil on April 11 at 8 p.m.: and the Easter Sunday Mass in Spanish at 2 p.m.

He will also concelebrate the Holy Thursday (April 9) Mass of the Lord’s Supper with Bishop Emeritus John Cummins at 7:30 p.m. All of these liturgies will take place at the cathedral.

After Easter he will return to San Diego and remain there until just before his installation on May 5.

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