R.I.P. Cardinal William J. Levada
September 26, 2019
Cardinal Roger Mahony
Today we are all saddened as we learned of the sudden death of His Eminence, Cardinal William J. Levada. He was well known to all of us here in Los Angeles, as well in the various Archdioceses in which he served, as well as his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
Cardinal Levada was a dear friend and seminary classmate. He joined our class at St. John’s Seminary following his graduation from St. Anthony’s High School in Long Beach, along with two other classmates from that school: Msgr. Anthony Leuer, and Archbishop George Niederauer, both deceased.
After finishing his seminary college courses, he was sent by Cardinal McIntyre to the North American College in Rome where he finished his theology courses. Ordained in December 1961, he subsequently received his doctorate in Sacred Theology in Rome.
He served on the staff of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the guidance of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
He served in various roles in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, as well as the Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference.
Cardinal Levada was the essential Churchman. His entire life was focused upon his life with Jesus Christ, and the good of the Church in every possible realm.
He was named Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles in 1983, and served as the Regional Bishop in Santa Barbara.
Then Bishop Levada and the late Bishop John Ward headed a special Task Force for me after my Installation in Los Angeles as Archbishop to develop our Regional System for the Archdiocese. Their plan was adopted, and the five Pastoral Regions were created, along with four Deaneries in each Pastoral Region.
In 1986 then Bishop Levada was named the Archbishop of Portland, Oregon, where he served for some nine years.
In 1995 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of San Francisco and succeeded to the See that same year.
When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, he selected then Archbishop Levada to serve as his successor as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He also served as the President of the International Theological Commission, and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and later, as President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. After being created a Cardinal in 2006, his Titular Church in Rome was Santa Maria in Domnica.
Upon reaching the age of 76 years, he retired from all of his Vatican responsibilities. He then remained very active giving many learned presentations in various places around the world. He was sought after for his knowledge and vast experience in all matters theological.
Cardinal Bill was a dear and long-time friend, and I shall miss him greatly. Our Ordination Class of 1962 remained very close over the years, gathering at least once a year formally, and at many other times as well. Our class was blessed to have four Bishops over the years: Cardinal William Levada, Archbishop George Niederauer, and Bishop Tod Brown, and myself.
We always enjoyed each other’s company and priestly fraternity, and supported each other in our priestly ministry constantly. Our Class believed deeply in the value of priestly fraternity, and lived it out fully.
Cardinal William Levada, the eminent Churchman, devoted his entire life to the life and well being of the Church, nationally and internationally. There was no issue involving the Church that eluded his care and concern—theological issues, ecclesiological issues, and any issue which touched the Church across the globe in any way.
May God open wide his arms to embrace our beloved brother, Cardinal Bill, as he enters the fullness of life in God’s Kingdom!