The role of the Archbishop of San Francisco in the Prop 8 battle became clearer today: it was he who engaged the Mormon Leadership on Prop 8.
Months before the first ads would run on Proposition 8, San Francisco Catholic Archbishop George Niederauer reached out to a group he knew well, Mormons.
Niederauer had made critical inroads into improving Catholic-Mormon relations while he was Bishop of Salt Lake City for 11 years. And now he asked them for help on Prop. 8, the ballot measure that sought to ban same-sex marriages in California.
The June letter from Niederauer drew in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and proved to be a critical move in building a multi-religious coalition – the backbone of the fundraising, organizing and voting support for the successful ballot measure. By bringing together Mormons and Catholics, Niederauer would align the two most powerful religious institutions in the Prop. 8 battle.
Niederauer’s meddling in civic affairs has been revealed before, of course. He was last heard from in September, when he called his parishioner Speaker Nancy Pelosi in for a chat:
San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer said he had received letters and e-mails from “many Catholics” expressing dismay over Pelosi’s remarks, in which she said the matter of when life begins remained controversial within the church. He said many of them questioned whether she should be able to receive communion from the church.
Pelosi made the remarks in an Aug. 24 interview with “Meet the Press” host Tom Brokaw after Brokaw said that the Catholic Church believes strongly that life begins at conception.
Her comments have been criticized by several Catholic Church officials, and Niederauer described them as being “in serious conflict” with the church in the Sept. 5 issue of Catholic San Francisco.
Niederauer concludes that, based on Catholic Church statements, it is up to him as Pelosi’s pastor to address whether she may continue to receive communion. He then invites the Speaker “into a conversation with me about these matters.”
Niederauer’s connection to Salt Lake City is fascinating. But, the direct connection of San Francisco to Rome may also pertain. Remember, the previous Archbishop, William Joseph Levada, was called to Rome in 2005 to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the position formerly held by Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.