Cordileone admits he was stopped at a DUI checkpoint as he and his mother were leaving dinner with friends in San Diego. He grew up in San Diego and according to police, that's where the 56-year-old was arrested early Saturday morning in the city's college district on suspicion of drunk driving. San Diego police say the man selected just last month by Pope Benedict to become archbishop of San Francisco was released after posting $2,500 in bail.
"Leaders are human. There is, deep in the Christian and certainly the Roman Catholic tradition, a sense of forgiveness, that no one comes to any leadership position with a perfect slate," says James Donahue, president and professor of ethics at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
Cordileone was already a controversial pick for San Francisco. He's known as a conservative on social issues and was a prominent backer of Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure banning same sex marriage in California. Last month, he reiterated his position. "We need to do everything we can to strengthen marriage," he said.
Police say Cordileone is due in court to face his drunk driving charges on October 9, just five days after he is scheduled to be installed as archbishop at a ceremony at St. Mary's Cathedral. Donahue says the vatican could make what he calls "adjustments" to that decision. "So the question is, how will both the vatican and also how will the people of the Archdiocese of San francisco will view his ability to lead and the kind of credibility that he will have. It's really about credibility," he says.
Cordileonoe released a statement Monday saying, "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. 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."
He continued, "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 Francisco. I pray that God, in His inscrutable wisdom, will bring some good out of this."