The following comes from a March 17 Catholic World Report article by Jim Graves:
Archbishop Cordileone, an unapologetic defender of Church teaching, he has drawn the ire of the Left, particularly for his advocacy of the traditional definition of marriage. In 2015, he was the target of an intense media campaign seeking his removal from his post, including a full-page advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle placed by self-described “committed Catholics inspired by Vatican II” calling on the Holy Father to remove him. The effort to oust him was countered by a campaign of support by many Catholics, and included a public rally and picnic in a San Francisco park last May.
Archbishop Cordileone recently spoke with CWR.
CWR: What have been some of your priorities since coming to the archdiocese?
Archbishop Cordileone: When I arrived, I tried not to bring too many well-defined, set priorities, other than the timeless Church priorities such as catechesis, liturgy, and evangelization. That said, three things come to mind, two of which were decided upon before I arrived.
The first was to develop a ministry to young adults, of which there are many in the archdiocese. We created an office of young adult ministry which is separate from youth ministry.
The second area of concern was marriage, as we’d seen a steep decline in couples marrying within the Church. We wanted to find ways of being more encouraging, welcoming, and accessible to couples, so we established a separate office of marriage and family life under a single director.
And a third priority I’ve been promoting since I came is developing a spirituality of stewardship. When people hear the word stewardship, they think of fundraising or responsible administration of resources. But it’s much more than this; I preach on it when I do parish visits.
A steward is the servant to whom the Master entrusts His goods. He expects the steward to be responsible with those goods, and bring about their increase. Everything we have is a gift of God, and we have to recognize this by being good stewards of our time, talent, and treasure.
It goes beyond that. As Pope Francis reminds us in his recent encyclical, we have to have good stewardship of our Earth. We have to be good stewards of our bodies, and realize that they are meant to be used according to God’s plan.
Understood properly, stewardship ties all these elements together. We work with the pastors of five parishes who have volunteered to work toward becoming stewardship parishes to implement this spirituality of stewardship in their parishes, which begins with commitment Sundays. We ask people to begin with a commitment to time in prayer, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and involvements of time in their parishes. Pretty far down the line we talk to them about sharing their treasure.
CWR: How is the archdiocese doing for vocations to the priesthood and religious life?
Archbishop Cordileone: We’re doing well, but we could be doing better. We should be doing better. I find that young people who present themselves for vocations have a great love for God and the Church, and have a desire to serve. I’ve been impressed by the level of maturity of our seminarians.
Some who come to us have family issues to overcome, or suffer from a lack of catechesis. They have some catch-up work to do. We need people who are seeking the truth, and have a love for learning.
Our challenge is that we need more. If we had triple the number of seminarians, we’d be in a good situation.
Let me return to stewardship, as it is tied to vocations. Successful stewardship is not just a process that takes a few years; it is multi-generational. It has to go way beyond my time in San Francisco. We are working with a firm that has been working for some years with leaders in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas. Wichita has a program that started in the 1970s; they have been very successful, and are a model for the country.
Wichita is a diocese with people who are happy and proud to be Catholic. They have thousands of volunteers. They, for example, run a dining room that serves 2,000 meals to the poor each day, and it is staffed entirely by parishioners. Their Catholic schools do not charge tuition.
They have a diocese of 110,000 Catholics, and have 50 seminarians. This is a very high proportion, as compared to other places.
CWR: What kind of support would you like to receive from the rank-and-file Catholic in the pew who supports what you’re doing in San Francisco?
Archbishop Cordileone: Learn to be an advocate for our understanding of the common good. Become well educated in the issues in the debate, and understand your bishop’s thinking on the issue. Evangelize in your sector of influence, but do so by becoming well-informed.
Letters of support are welcome. Offer your expertise, and become involved in stewardship. Assist the work of your bishop or priest in the parish.