Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone on Apostolic Visitation, Liturgy and the Raiders

Leon Suprenant continues his reporting from the USCCB Fall meeting in Baltimore. This time he chats with Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone. If you missed his earlier interview with new Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades, check here:

Meet the New Shepherd of Oakland: Bishop Salvatore Cordileone

By Leon Suprenant

On Wednesday morning I was able to catch up with Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, former Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego who earlier this year became the Bishop of Oakland.

He's part of the new generation of relatively young, unabashedly orthodox, prematurely balding (not sure what that has to do with anything, but it's mostly true) bishops to arrive on the scene in recent years.

Bishop Cordileone is a canonist and an obviously bright guy. He forthrightly acknowledges that now as the bishop of his own diocese the buck stops with him, and he has the look--natural confidence combined with divine grace--of someone who's up to that responsibility and challenge. Not terribly unlike our own Bishop Finn in that regard.

We had just come out of a presentation on the state of religious communities in our country (the religious brother who gave the talk rode the shuttle with me to the airport this afternoon). This topic captured Bishop Cordileone's interest. He noted that Oakland has many religious communities. He wants to give them encouragement while at the same time foster among the faithful a greater awareness and consequent appreciation of the huge contributions of consecrated religious to the Church and indeed to the world.

Bishop Cordileone participated in the apostolic visitations of U.S. seminaries a few years back, and while he grants that these can be intimidating at first, he reports that he was well-received at the seminaries he personally visited, which ended up being a very positive experience despite any concerns or fears going into it.

He sees a similar dynamic at work in the current apostolic visitation of women's religious communities, which presents a singular opportunity for renewal of religious houses and individual consecrated religious. He says that if the process is embraced in a spirit of dialogue and ecclesial communion (there's the rub, I'm afraid), the visitation will be a win/win experience for all concerned.

The conversation then shifted to the sacred liturgy. He was quick to point out that we're not merely dealing with new texts, but with a moment of profound "renewal in the 'spirit of the liturgy,'"deliberately drawing from the phraseology of Pope Benedict XVI.

In overseeing the liturgical renewal in Oakland, he stressed the importance of organic development. Like Pope Benedict, he views liturgical renewal within a "hermeneutic of continuity"--in other words, he understands the present changes in the larger context of the Church's rich liturgical tradition. He's intent on building on the past, not discarding it. His refreshing liturgical mindset is not stuck in the past, but it does incorporate the past, bringing a richness and vitality to our 21st-century liturgical celebrations.

As we were ending our conversation, I had to lightheartedly play the "AFC West card." I asked him if he was getting any grief as a life-long San Diego resident who now finds himself the Bishop of Oakland. He smiled and acknowledged some friendly banter, I think beleaguered Chiefs fans who haven't had much to smile about lately should be humored by the fact that the new Bishop of Raider Nation is actually a Chargers fan!