Cardinal William Levada has passed away at the age of 83.
As Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) from 2005-2012 under Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Levada played a key role in all that led to the publication of Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in 2009 and the subsequent establishment of the personal ordinariates for Catholics of Anglican tradition, starting with the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in Jan. 2011.
Bishop Steven Lopes of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter served as Cardinal Levada’s secretary, starting when he was Archbishop of San Francisco, and continuing during his years at CDF.
I took the photo above in 2010 when Cardinal Levada came to Kingston, Ontario to deliver the annual St. John Fisher Lecture at Queen’s University.
Here are a few excerpts of that talk, which now seems prophetic.
As a way of celebrating these 500 years since the time of St. John Fisher’s saintly and intrepid life, which brought him the martyr’s crown, and of celebrating as well this year’s promised beatification of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, whose search for the fullness of truth led him to Rome without requiring that he abandon the spiritual heritage that had nurtured him in the Anglican Communion, I entitled my presentation today “500 Years After St. John Fisher: Pope Benedict’s Initiatives Regarding the Anglican Communion.”
It’s interesting that we are now on the verge of celebrating Cardinal Newman’s canonization.
All of us who were there remember this metaphor of a symphony:
Visible union with the Catholic Church does not mean absorption into a monolith, with the absorbed body being lost in the greater whole, the way a teaspoon of sugar would be lost if dissolved in a gallon of coffee. Rather, visible union with the Catholic Church can be compared to an orchestral ensemble. Some instruments can play all the notes, like a piano. There is no note that the piano has that a violin or a harp or a flute or a tuba does not have. But when all these instruments play the notes that the piano has, the notes are enriched and enhanced. The result is symphonic: full communion. One can perhaps say that the ecumenical movement wishes to move from cacophony to symphony, with all playing the same notes of doctrinal clarity, the same euphonic chords of sanctifying activity, observing the rhythm of Christian conduct and charity, and filling the world with the beautiful and inviting sound of the Word of God. While the other instruments may tune themselves according to the piano, when playing in concert there is no mistaking them for the piano.
It is God’s will that those to whom the Word of God is addressed—the world, that is—should hear one pleasing melody made splendid by the contributions of many different instruments.
Cardinal Levada’s talk continues:
Anglicanorum coetibus envisages not only the inclusion of significant elements of Anglican ritual for Anglican groups coming into full communion, but also certain pastoral practices that are part of their heritage in order to provide a greater continuity for enriching their spiritual and ecclesial life in the future. Moreover, among the distinctive elements of Anglican heritage should be included the spiritual and intellectual gifts of the Oxford Movement in the 19th century. The then-Anglican cleric Newman, together with his fellow Tractarians, have left a legacy that still enriches a common Catholic patrimony.
The whole talk is worth re-reading as we give thanks to God for the role Cardinal Levada played in the marvelous gift of Anglicanorum coetibus and the personal ordinariates that have allowed us to become fully Catholic yet maintain the treasures of our Anglican tradition at the same time.
A few days later, Cardinal Levada was the keynote speaker at a Catholic Christian Outreach banquet in Ottawa. There he is with CCO president Jeff Lockhert. It was there I first met then Fr. Lopes.
He also celebrated Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa.
Here is he is with Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa and our organist at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Michael Trolly.
Cardinal William Levada, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has died at the age of 83. He was the first American to lead the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), one of the most senior positions in the Curia.
Levada was appointed to the position by Pope Benedict XVI, who, as Cardinal Ratzinger, had led the congregation until his election as Pope. He served in the role from May 13, 2005, until July, 2012.
As prefect of the CDF, Leveda served as president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and International Theological Commission. He was also charged with overseeing the Vatican’s handeling of cases of child sexual abuse, and with implementing the 2010 legal reforms to Sacromentorum sanctitatis tutela, which govern the Church’s handling of the most serious canonical offences.
Following the promulgation of Anglicanorum coetibus by Benedict XVI in 2009, under Levada’s leadership, the CDF was charged with creating the Personal Ordinariates of Our Lady of Walsingham (in the UK), the Chair of St Peter (in the US), and Our Lady of the Southern Cross (Australia), to incorporate groups of former Anglicans, including clergy, into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Rest in Peace, Cardinal Levada, and thank you!