By Will Kane
(San Francisco Chronicle) (07-27) 09:35 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- The Vatican on Friday named one of the driving forces behind California's 2008 initiative banning same-sex marriage as archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Salvatore Cordileone, 56, who is now bishop of the Oakland diocese, was named archbishop by Pope Benedict XVI and was expected to be introduced later Friday at a news conference at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco.
Cordileone was an avid supporter of Proposition 8, the November 2008 California ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage. In an interview with the Catholic Radio Network at the time, Cordileone called same-sex marriage a plot by "the evil one" to destroy morality in the modern world.
He will preside over an archdiocese that encompasses more than a half million Catholics in San Francisco and Marin County and on the Peninsula. He will also oversee the dioceses of Oakland, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Sacramento, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Reno and Salt Lake City.
"I am pleased to welcome Archbishop-elect Cordileone and to assure him of our prayers, loyalty, support and cooperation, as well as our friendship and affection," said Archbishop George Niederauer, who will retire after serving in San Francisco since 2005.
Cordileone has been bishop of the Oakland diocese since March 2009. Before that he was an auxiliary bishop in San Diego, where he was born. Cordileone also spent time four years as a parish priest in Calexico.
He will be formally installed at an October mass, said George Wesolek, a church spokesman.
His time in Oakland "has given him a deep understanding of the radically diverse cultural composition of the Bay Area and a dedication to multi-cultural ministry," Wesolek said in a statement.
Cordileone is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
"Only one idea of marriage can stand," he told the Chronicle in 2009. "If that's going to be considered bigoted, we're going to see our rights being taken away - as is already happening."
Gay leaders in San Francisco questioned how Cordileone would fit in with the city.
"This isn't a marriage made in heaven," said Tom Ammiano, a gay state assemblyman who represents San Francisco.
Ammiano said he would be willing to talk with Cordileone about gay marriage.
"If there is ever a change in attitude there, I am willing to talk turkey - if he ever wanted to change his position," he said.
Cordileone speaks fluent Spanish, the archdiocese says. His hobbies include playing the saxophone and listening to jazz music as well as swimming and watching football and baseball.
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