Portland Insight

This morning's Oregonian has some interesting insight into Archbishop Levada, the new head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (aka son of the Inquisition). The article was especially interesting to me because it quotes two people that I know personally, although one of them not very well. They are both people who's opinions and perspectives I respect and often agree with.

Robert Pfohman, editor of Portland's Catholic Sentinel, remembers a long line of shared dinners with Levada. "He's one of the most urbane, sophisticated, civilized and funny bishops I've ever met," Pfohman said. "A lot of people have the wrong idea of the archbishop, that he came across as imperious and aloof. But a lot of people who knew him only knew him superficially. He was actually kind of shy."

The Rev. Charles Lienert, who served Levada as vicar for clergy, remembers the archbishop as someone who was quick to spot errors, listened intently and was open to changing his mind if he heard a good argument. Now a priest at St. Andrew Parish in Northeast Portland, Lienert isn't sure what it will mean to Oregonians that someone they once worked, prayed and played with will hold a powerful seat in the Vatican. Lienert is none too clear on what the congregation actually does as it aims to protect church teaching. But it might help to have an American present in Rome in such a prominent post, he said.

"He'll have an understanding of what the issues are in the United States," Lienert said, including the American sense of what it means to participate in parishes. "We have more active lay participation here than they do in most other countries," he said. "I think he could be a critic of our culture and also have some empathy for Americans. . . . We're not all bad or all good. "

Other Portland tidbits. Levada was Archbishop when Portland’s child sex abuse cases started to break (our Archdiocese has since declared bankruptcy). He actively campaigned against Measure 9 – a very hateful anti-gay rights ballot measure. He was neutral on another anti-gay measure. He was outspoken on our Assisted Suicide Ballot Measure.

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