WASHINGTON (May 13, 2005)--Pope Benedict XVI has named San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment.
William Joseph Levada was born on June 15, 1936 in Long Beach, California. He attended Catholic elementary and high schools, and studied for the priesthood at St. John's Seminary College, Camarillo, California, and the North American College, Rome. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on December 20, 1961, in St. Peter's Basilica.
After parochial assignments in the Archdiocese, Father Levada was sent for graduate studies in Rome and subsequently served as a professor of theology at St. John's Seminary.
From 1976 to 1982, Father Levada served as an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and, in 1980, he was named a chaplain of the Holy Father, with the title of "monsignor."
After this service, Monsignor Levada became the executive director of the California Catholic Conference, Sacramento. In March, 1983, he was named an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, and then, in 1986, archbishop of Portland in Oregon. He served there until1 August, 1995, when he was named coadjutor archbishop of San Francisco. He succeeded to the See of San Francisco the following December.
Archbishop Levada has a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University, Rome. He is currently a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and he served on the editorial committee for the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
According to the 1988 Apostolic Constitution, Pastor Bonus, which deals with the Roman Curia, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the whole Catholic world; so it has competence in things that touch this matter in any way."
In addition, in "fulfilling its duty of promoting doctrine, the Congregation fosters studies so that the understanding of the faith may grow and a response in the light of the faith may be given to new questions arising from the progress of the sciences or human culture."
Also, "it helps the bishops, individually or in groups, in carrying out their office as authentic teachers and doctors of the faith, an office that carries with it the duty of promoting and guarding the integrity of that faith."
"To safeguard the truth of faith and the integrity of morals, the Congregation takes care lest faith or morals suffer harm through errors that have been spread in any way whatever," Pastor Bonus states.
In response to the announcement, Spokane Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, assured Archbishop Levada "of the prayers and best wishes of all his brothers" in the Conference of which he has been "an active and devoted member."
The full text of Bishop Skylstad's statement follows:
"I rejoice with my brother bishops in hearing of the appointment of Archbishop William Levada to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
"Dealing as it does with matters related to our Catholic faith itself, this congregation is the most central of the offices of the Roman Curia which assist our Holy Father.
"It is a great honor for Archbishop Levada to receive this appointment. He is also taking on a tremendous responsibility, but he is well prepared for it intellectually and spiritually, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly recognizes in choosing him to be his successor at the Congregation.
"I assure Archbishop Levada of the prayers and best wishes of all his brothers in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops of which he has been an active and devoted member."