Cardinal Levada, formerly Vatican’s highest ranking U.S. prelate, arrested for DUI in Hawaii

By Joel Connelly
Seattle PI
August 25, 2015

Cardinal William Levada, 79, former head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was arrested in Hawaii at midnight Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015 on suspicion of drunken driving and released from jail after posting $500 bail. He has a court date of Sept. 24 in Kona District Court.

Pope Francis talks with a delegation of American nuns after ending the investigation of them begun under Levada’s auspices.

Cardinal William Levada, formerly the highest-ranking American prelate at the Vatican, was arrested for driving under the influence last week while vacationing in Hawaii.

The former archbishop of Portland and San Francisco, Levada headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Under his auspices, the Vatican began a years-long investigation of U.S. nuns.  A report by the congregation accused the sisters of succumbing to “radical feminist” tendencies and not devoting enough time to Catholic moral teachings.

Levada was arrested Thursday night on the Queen Kaahumanu Highway between Kailua and Kona.  He posted $500 bail and was released.  He must appear in person Sept. 24 in Kona District Court.

“I regret my error in judgment. I intend to continue fully cooperating with authorities,” Levada said in a statement released by the archdiocese of San Francisco.  Levada, 79, now lives in retirement at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California.

Curiously, the present head of the San Francisco archdiocese, the equally orthodox Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, was arrested for DUI in San Diego shortly after being appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Levada was archbishop of Portland from 1986 to 1995.  He spent seven years in San Francisco, and was then named to the Vatican position charged with enforcing church doctrine.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is a successor to what was once known as the Inquisition. Pope Benedict XVI gained the nickname “God’s rottweiler” for investigating theologians as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before he was elevated to the papacy.

The news of Levada’s arrest broke in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald just as the Public Religion Research Institute released a new, exhaustive study on the attitudes of American Catholics, and the American public’s attitude toward the Catholic Church.

It found that 80 percent of U.S. Catholics trust Pope Francis to be responsive to their needs and respectful of their views.  Just 60 percent held a similar view of America’s bishops, most of them picked by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Pope Francis was quick to end, without animus, the crackdown on and enhanced oversight of America’s nuns.  The crackdown began under Levada and was continued by his successor at the congregation, German Cardinal Gerhard Muller.   (Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain was picked under Benedict XVI to bring the sisters back in line.)

The new pope also removed an arch-conservative prelate, ex-St. Louis archbishop Cardinal Raymond Burke, from a key Vatican position in the congregation that vets potential bishops.

Levada was part of the reign of orthodoxy.  He opposed same-sex marriage and spoke out against civil unions as archbishop of San Francisco.

Addressing pro-choice Catholic politicians, he declared: “A Catholic, to be in full communion with the faith of the church, must accept this teaching about the evil of abortion and euthanasia.”

And Levada once declared:  “Catholic theology does not recognize the right to dissent, if by that we mean adopting conclusions which are contrary to the clear teachings of the authoritative, infallible magisterium, and which are presented to the public in such a way as to constitute equivalently an alternative personal magisterium.”

Yes, the Vatican talked like that under Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Levada must now deal with American civil law. He’s not the first prominent mainland figure to get pulled over.  British Columbia’s then-Premier Gordon Campbell was busted on Maui 12 years ago, and posed for an equally unflattering mug shot.


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