Next Thursday, Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone will be installed as archbishop of the San Francisco Archdiocese.
As the Examiner reported this morning, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, "a group of gay-rights activists whose members satirically wear the garb of Roman Catholic nun," is one of the groups leading the protest:
While activists aren't saying exactly what they plan to do for Cordileone's Oct. 4 installation mass at St. Mary's Cathedral, they're signaling something more than garden-variety picketing.
"Traditional demonstrations with signs don't work anymore," said Sister Zsa Zsa Glamour, who declined to provide a real name. "We're still deciding on how best to respond to his installation."
Cordileone was a key driving force behind California's 2008 Proposition 8 ballot initiative, which banned gay marriage throughout the state. (The measure passed, but has since been struck down by the state Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court may pick up the debate in its upcoming session.) He helped author the bill and raised money for its campaign effort.
"The reality of marriage as the union of a mother and a father is grounded in our very biology," Cordileone told the National Catholic Register last year. " A child comes into the world by the union of a man and a woman. That's a basic biological fact that cannot be denied. There's a mother and a father for every child."
His take on contraception is equally conservative.
"Contraception," Cordileone said in a 2008 interview at Thomas Aquinas College, "has been the crack in the foundation that's brought down the building because it disconnected children from marriage."
Many Catholic gay rights advocates saw the Vatican's selection of Cordileone for the Archbishop post in the country's most progressive diocese as a direct message. Recent polls have shown that half of all Catholics in America support legalizing gay marriage (one Gallup poll put it at 51 percent in support, 47 percent opposed). At the ground level, the more progressive Catholic priests often don't take explicit stands on the issue -- seeking to strike the difficult balance respecting their institution's policy and fulfilling their parishioners' needs.
By assigning one of the more conservative bishops on gay marriage to the San Francisco Archdiocese, the Vatican appeared to be saying: This is the direction the Catholic Church will be going.
Time will tell whether that is the case, or whether it is just another hiccup in the church's longstanding four-steps-forward, three-steps-back march into the future.