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Levada, in his own words

On arriving in San Francisco:

“The two of those things [recommendations to close churches and charges of embezzlement against two priests] kept the caldron boiling in a way that was challenging. San Francisco is a very high energy town, whereas Portland is very laid back. And I’m a very high energy person, so I feel that for me it was okay, I didn’t mind stepping into this mix, and seeing what we could do, what needed to be done.

“I think finding some good uses for some of those closed churches was one way of helping people see there was value in those decisions that were made. ...

“I’m not a born administrator, but I think, if you give a certain tension and energy to that, I think it’s a skill you can learn, and it’s an important ministry in the church.”

On church closings:

“As in other cities where churches have been closed, one of the problems is changing demographics -- the fact that many Catholics moved to the suburbs, and the people who replaced them are not Catholic. For example, 22 percent of the city of San Francisco is Chinese, and only 2 percent of those are Catholic. That shows you that the time when many parishes built for a densely Catholic area, that’s no longer the case.

“I think [the recommended closings were] an attempt to be fair in the distribution of resources and say, ‘Well, we don’t need as many churches as we used to have. We could do without some of them.’ A number of churches were damaged by the earthquake in 1989 or were challenged by new city ordinances which required them to be reinforced with steel structures.”

Explaining diocesan decisions:

“Communication is a continuing problem, and there’s no magic solution to it. There’s always going to be somebody who feels left out of the loop at some point. But it certainly is an important aspect. They had developed, Sunday to Sunday, a bulletin insert, trying to enhance communications when some of the criticism began. ... That has served well, but it’s a very limited vehicle. One of the recommendations of the pastoral plan was to consider the possiblity of reinstituting a diocesan newspaper, which I’m very pleased to announce we will be doing.

“I’m very hopeful that will be a new source for communication and for education and evangelization here in the archdiocese.”

National Catholic Reporter, October 23, 1998