Levada will head Congregation for the Doctrine of the FaithWell, rumors that San Francisco Archbishop William Joseph Levada would be the Holy Father's choice to replace himself as head of the Holy Office have proven to be correct. The press in both the U.S. and Europe are already spinning this, some are calling Levada "progressive," which in real terms would make him a heretic, while others are saying that Levada is "conservative." Many Catholics, like me, have complete trust in the Holy Father to appoint the right man to this important post in the Church. I know that whoever the Pope appoints, it will be the right man.
There is a faction in the Church today that I like to call "my-way-or-the-highway Catholics." These aren't the "cafeteria Catholics," of much infamy, and in fact, most of these are very orthodox in their observance. However, if something smacks of anything remotely modern (modern styles of music for example, or more modern-looking churches), that the priest of that parish must be a heretic or a schismatic, usually they use the term "liberal" instead.
That kind of characterization is blatantly unfair in many cases, and coming from me, that is saying a lot. I am no fan of churches that look modern (I think many of them strike a resemblance to space ships or some structure out of Star Wars), and I prefer a little Latin in my Mass mixed with the vernacular. I even believe that permission ought to be granted freely and liberally to observe the Tridentine Mass (1962 Missal). I believe that under Benedict XVI, we are already seeing the beginnings of the "reform of the reform" he has spoken of in the past. However, none of the views I just outlined are matters of faith to be universally accepted by all Catholics everywhere. Sure, it would be great if they were, but you won't find acceptance of the things I just outlined mandated in the Catechism.
Now it is true that by orthodox standards we can say that Archbishop Levada's tenure as Archbishop of San Francisco was less than stellar. This was not due to any lack of orthodoxy on the part of Archbishop Levada, but seems rather to have been due to the fact that in the sea of immorality that is that part of the country, Archbishop Levada stayed very quiet, troublingly silent for some.
It might be worth remembering, though, that in 1981, John Paul II appointed the Archbishop of Munich to the same post. That prelate was known for being a "reformer" and a "progressive," or so said the papers at the time. That person was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and we see just how much the Lord has used him. I have a theory: I think Curial posts often make good bishops come out of their shell. They don't have to be on television anymore every time they make a controversial (and usually right) decision. They do not have to answer to the local media, and they do not need to worry about protestors, so-called "Catholics" bringing unwanted and undue attention to the Church's internal affairs. Instead, they can just concentrate on doing their jobs, issuing the pronouncements that are required of them in order that the Truth might be defended around the world.
Archbishop Levada used to work for the Pope. I'd be willing to wager any amount of money that the Holy Father knows more about this man's orthodoxy than any of us could ever know. We wish Godspeed and send many prayers to Archbishop Levada in his new work for the Holy See.