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The Roman Catholic archbishop-elect of San Francisco, controversial for his vigorous support of California's same-sex marriage ban, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and ordered to appear in court, San Diego authorities said Monday.
The Rev. Salvatore Cordileone was taken into custody after being stopped early Saturday at a checkpoint near the San Diego State campus, said Detective Gary Hassen, a police spokesman. Cordileone was booked into San Diego County jail two hours after being stopped and was released Saturday on a $2,500 bond, sheriff's records show. He was ordered to appear in court Oct. 9.
Cordileone, 56, is the current bishop of the Oakland Diocese, which issued an apologetic statement Monday afternoon. "While visiting in San Diego this past weekend, I had dinner at the home of some friends along with a priest friend visiting from outside the country and my mother, who lives near San Diego State University," the statement read. "While driving my mother home, I passed through a DUI checkpoint the police had set up near the SDSU campus before I reached her home, and was found to be over the California legal blood alcohol level.
"I apologize for my error in judgment and feel shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself. I will repay my debt to society and I ask forgiveness from my family and my friends and co-workers at the Diocese of Oakland and the Archdiocese of San The San Diego City Attorney's Office, which prosecutes misdemeanor DUI offenses, said it had not received a report on the arrest. Cordileone is a San Diego native and was ordained at the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego. Police did not provide information about whether he had previously been arrested.Francisco. I pray that God, in His inscrutable wisdom, will bring some good out of this."
In late July, Pope Benedict XVI selected Cordileone to become archbishop of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties. Cordileone is not scheduled to be installed as archbishop of San Francisco until Oct. 4. Catholic bishops are answerable only to the pope and a criminal charge would not automatically prompt a delay in Cordileone's installation, according to canon law experts. Cordileone's appointment to San Francisco archbishop provoked outcry from gay rights advocates because he is a noted proponent of Proposition 8, the 2008 law passed by California voters to outlaw same-sex marriage.
Cordileone was already known as a theologically conservative bishop faithful to the Catholic orthodoxy when he was installed as Oakland's bishop in May 2009, becoming the first Spanish-speaking bishop in the Oakland Diocese's history. He was a staunch advocate for immigrant rights and opposes the death penalty.
He was also part of the San Diego Diocese when it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2007 after being slammed with claims by 150 alleged victims of sexual abuse and multiple civil trials. Cordileone denied allegations by creditors at the time that the diocese tried to protect its finances by hiding and downplaying the value of assets before bankruptcy proceedings began.
And he has refused to provide a list of priests involved in sexual abuse requested by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, according to David Clohessy, director of the organization known as SNAP. Cordileone also called on Catholics to vote for an initiative on the November ballot that requires parental consent for minors seeking an abortion. Because it's a high-profile case, Cordileone's paperwork may take longer to process if authorities are going out of their way to avoid mistakes, Bay Area DUI defense attorney Bruce Kapsack said. Breath tests return immediate results. Urine and blood samples can take much longer to process, Kapsack said.
Kapsack said his clients have included priests, rabbis, imams and Buddhist monks. "They don't get more of a break," Kapsack said. "Actually, the higher profile the individual the stricter the situation becomes."