San Francisco's Newest Archbishop

Thu Feb. 16, 2006 11:59 AM PST

When San Francisco Archbishop William Levada left for a new position in Rome last year, gay Catholics were left wondering if a conservative ideologue would replace him. Yesterday afternoon, George H. Niederauer, who is rumored to be sympathetic to homosexuals in his flock, was installed as the eighth archbishop of San Francisco. Several thousand attended the mass at St. Mary's Cathedral—including Mayor Gavin Newsom—where the mood was joyous.

Niederauer, a native of California who earned a PhD in English Literature at the University of Southern California while a priest, spent much of his homily discussing Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical Deus Caritas Est [God is Love, issued three weeks ago], and referenced poets Robert Frost and T.S. Elliot, as he extolled the values of humility, charity, and love for all. It is still uncertain what the new appointment will mean for San Francisco's gay believers, but Niederauer did praise the "rich diversity" of Catholics in the city. As one longtime Bay Area Catholic in attendance remarked, "Now we wait and see."

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