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Archbishop is 'collaborator' in helping lead the faithful to holiness
Catholic News Service photo
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone stands enters the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco as he arrives for his installation as the ninth archbishop of San Francisco Oct. 4. He succeeds Archbishop George Niederauer, 76, who had hea ded the San Francisco Archdiocese since 2005.
Catholic News Service photo
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone stands enters the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco as he arrives for his installation as the ninth archbishop of San Francisco Oct. 4. He succeeds Archbishop George Niederauer, 76, who had hea ded the San Francisco Archdiocese since 2005.
Catholic News Service

SAN FRANCISCO — On the feast of St. Francis of Assisi in the city of St. Francis, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was installed at the ninth archbishop of San Francisco at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, and found inspiration in that patron saint to whom Jesus had said, "Francis, rebuild my house."

On Oct. 4 at a Mass of installation, with some 40 other bishops from around the world and more than 250 priests and 64 deacons participating, Archbishop Cordileone began his work as shepherd to more than a half million Catholics of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties.

He talked about being a collaborator with 416 priests to help people get to holiness.

"To you my flock here in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, please know how much I am looking forward to getting to know you all and together with you crafting a vision and plan for furthering the new evangelization here and so continue the good work that has been carried on in this local church for over 150 years," said Archbishop Cordileone, who succeeds retired Archbishop George H. Niederauer.

Outside the cathedral, protesters denouncing Archbishop Cordileone's opposition to same-sex marriage held forth. He is chairman of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

But the two-hour-long Mass was without interruption and the only competition for the attention of the capacity crowd was the occasional fly-over by the Blue Angels.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, was the presiding bishop. Msgr. C. Michael Padazinski, chancellor of the archdiocese, read Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic letter appointing the new San Francisco archbishop, transferring him from Oakland, where he had been bishop for three years.

The new archbishop, with humility and a dash of self-deprecating humor, mentioned in his homily that "God has always had a way of putting me in my place with little and sometimes big ways of reminding me of my need to depend upon him and to attend to the work of my own rebuilding from within."

He added, "I would say, though, that with the latest episode of my life God has outdone himself" -- a reference to his Aug. 25 arrest for driving under the influence in San Diego.

After dinner at the home of some friends, he was driving his mother to her home near the campus of San Diego State University, where police had set up a DUI checkpoint.

He told the congregation that at the time he hoped something good would come of it, and, indeed, he said, something good has: "the outpouring of love and support and promises of prayers."

Such a response has made it clear that "most people have an instinctive sense of compassion and are naturally inclined to reach out to anyone who is hurting and in need of being bolstered by the moral support that only the solidarity of friendship can offer," he said.

That's a building block, he said, one of the building blocks that St. Francis used in rebuilding God's house, "as his house manifests itself in the different communities to which we belong."

Archbishop Cordileone began the homily saying, "Francis, rebuild my house," a reference to Christ's instruction to St. Francis as he prayed in the dilapidated San Damiano, a church with a monastery near Assisi. St. Francis did repair it, using the original foundation, but Christ's words had a much deeper spiritual significance, said the archbishop.

St. Francis' time was one of spiritual unrest, not unlike this time, and St. Francis' response "was as timeless as it was simple -- holiness."

The story and message is as applicable to our time as they were to St. Francis' as well as to any number of other periods in the history of the church, said Archbishop Cordileone.

"Of course, as our father Francis teaches us, the work of rebuilding must necessarily begin within each one of us, clergy, consecrated religious, lay faithful," he said.

He mentioned his grandfather, a fisherman who had settled in San Francisco to start a new and better life.

"If someone had told him that in 100 years time his grandson would become the archbishop of this place, I'm sure he would have thought that they were out of their minds. Apparently, there are people who think that today," he said to laughter.

He spoke, too, of Pope Benedict, who called for a Year of Faith, during which time -- again, a time of spiritual unrest -- when Catholics will take a fresh look at Vatican II. "It is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, our one savior of the world," said Archbishop Cordileone.

At a reception that followed, Jeff Bialik, executive director of Catholic Charities in San Francisco, said he thought that building a homily on St. Francis was an ideal tone and start for the archbishop.

He added, "It was a terrific introduction for those of us in the archdiocese who don't know him too well. He showed us a spiritual side, a pastoral side, a sense of humor, a sense of family and his roots in the city of St. Francis."

Father George E. Mockel, the vicar general and moderator of the curia in the Oakland Diocese, asked if the archbishop was affected by his critics in the marriage debate, said he was not.

"This is a man of principle and integrity, and he doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk," he told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper.

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