Critics are calling it "bombshell by the Bay." The pope has sent a strong message to his Left Coast faithful by naming a key backer of Proposition 8 against gay marriage as the new archbishop of San Francisco. Salvatore Cordileone, who officially takes charge next week, is considered an "architect" of Proposition 8, notes the Los Angeles Times. He helped develop the proposition to shoot down the state's gay marriage measure when he was an auxiliary bishop in San Diego. Cordileone's appointment by Pope Benedict "re-emphasizes the Vatican's concern about gay marriage" even in a city like San Francisco, Father Thomas J. Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University, tells the Times. "They're serious, and they're not going to back down."
Cordileone, who heads the "defense of marriage" subcommittee for the US Conference of Bishops, has warned that Catholics have to understand the "church is not going to change its teaching," and has said that the sacrament of Communion should be denied to gays and lesbians in a relationship. "Paranoia is very high," says San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose district includes Most Holy Redeemer Church in the Castro, which could be the largest gay Catholic congregation in the nation. "There are a lot of gay people for whom this religion is very important. It's just very, very sad," he tells the San Francisco Chronicle. The archdiocese recently banned drag queens from serving as emcees at charity events at the church. In Cordileone's most recent controversy, he was busted for drunk driving last month in San Diego—and apologized. The 56-year-old archbishop will lead more than 500,000 Catholics in 91 parishes in three counties: San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin. (Read more Catholic Church stories.)