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Swing Honors Roman Catholic Archbishop on New Appointment

Bishop William E. Swing of California has written the following reflection to honor Roman Catholic Archbishop William J. Levada of San Francisco, who on Friday, May 13, was named prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

By The Rt. Rev. William E. Swing

Distributed by the Episcopal News Service (ENS)

When Pope Benedict XVI named Archbishop William J. Levada to lead the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, there was much rejoicing in San Francisco. Certainly among his Roman Catholic flock, but also among Jews, Muslims, Protestants, and a host of others. Archbishop Levada has a generous and hospitable heart toward people of varying faiths. Therefore, so many of us feel as though a friend is headed toward Rome.

When he was chosen to be the co-chair, along with our Presiding Bishop, of ARCIC (Anglican-Roman Catholic Interfaith Consultation), the first thing he did was to come to Grace Cathedral and ask to see a Book of Common Prayer. From there Archbishop Levada studied our Anglican ethos and even attended the 2003 General Convention in Minneapolis. He sat in on the debates of both Houses surrounding consents for the Bishop of New Hampshire.

When the Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of California had its annual banquet in 1998, we chose to honor Archbishop Levada and the Catholic Charities, which at the time was celebrating 90 years of service. His concern for the poor and marginalized is well recognized in the Bay Area. The Episcopal Charities and the Catholic Charities have become colleagues, and now we complement rather than compete.

One of the upcoming occasions of farewell for the Archbishop will be hosted by interfaith leaders. Archbishop Levada reached out specifically to the Jewish and Muslim communities. His ecumenical officer was a pioneer board member of the United Religions Initiative. And on many local and national social issues his leadership rallied religious leaders to take a stand. Each year he also hosts an ecumenical or an interfaith luncheon at St. Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco.

Personally I cherish the Madonna and Child which he brought to our home when we dined with our dear friend Anthony, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan. On that evening we decided to go together to see the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. We left in April 2003. A memorable and deeply moving ecumenical pilgrimage. Pope John Paul II had one audience for us and one for our entourage. His All Holiness, Bartholomew, hosted us for two days in Istanbul. We were unable to get on the calendar of the Archbishop of Canterbury, but the Bishop of London and the dean of Canterbury Cathedral were marvelously welcoming. All of us came away with a far deeper appreciation of each other's tradition and genuine affection for each other.

By the way, the Archbishop and I were born in the same summer, both named William, graduated from schools in the same years, were ordained to the priesthood on the same day, consecrated bishops around the same time, and served in San Francisco. Now when most bishops my age have retired, here is Levada starting anew in one of the most important religious positions in the world.

I truly admire him. His heart toward God. Outstanding scholar. Devotion to the Church. A rich capacity for friendship. Candor, strength, integrity, and grace. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit he will be faithful to Jesus Christ and serve with courage and compassion.

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One Response to “Swing Honors Roman Catholic Archbishop on New Appointment”

  1. » On June 10th, 2005 at 5:05 pm Fr. Bob Bonnot Said:

    Thank you for this wonderful narrative of the rich interfaith experience and attitude with with Archbishop Levada assumes his new responsibilities. They will be a blessing to peoples of all faiths and to all the world.

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