‘All our detractors can do is call us names’

If you had no idea that Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is an Italian-American who had four Sicilian grandparents, his hands would give the game away. From the minute we start talking in the parlour of the London Oratory, he gestures with his fingers and swirls his hands for emphasis. I even wonder whether, if his hands were tied, he would be able to speak.

But speak up he must. Now, as Archbishop of San Francisco, he is one of the most vocal members of the US bishops’ conference in objecting to the re-definition of marriage.

Promoting marriage is not a new mission for the shepherd. As a newly ordained diocesan priest in California, he confronted the situation of preparing young couples for marriage who were not always fully practising their Catholic faith. Then, as a veteran canon lawyer of the Apostolic Signatura, his speciality was the legal points of marriage. This month he was invited to London in his capacity as a member of the working group on the liturgy for the Anglican ordinariates. Archbishop Cordileone’s contribution is to bring the perspective of a canon lawyer and a pastor. This was especially helpful in preparing the rite for marriage that will be used by former Anglicans who are coming into the Catholic Church, so that their traditions are incorporated into the marriage ceremony, while it remains an entirely Catholic and canonically correct rite.