Cardinal William J. Lavada, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a friend of the Diocese of Knoxville died in Rome on Sept. 26. He was 83.
Cardinal Levada served as archbishop of Portland, Ore. and archbishop of San Francisco prior to his appointment as the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. He was selected by the pope to be his successor in that role, one of the most senior positions at the Vatican, until 2012.
Cardinal Levada had a near-lifelong friendship with Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia and former archbishop of St. Louis. Cardinal Rigali is now living in the Diocese of Knoxville.
“I have known Cardinal Levada for 65 years. We were in the seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles together. We have been friends since that time. It was a great joy to know Cardinal Levada,” Cardinal Rigali said.
“We maintained our friendship and he was a great joy to me over the 65 years that we knew each other. I was at his ordination when he became a priest at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 1961. I was at the first Mass he celebrated at the Church of St. Andrew at the Quirinal. I actually assisted him at that Mass and 50 years later I was with him again at St. Peter’s Basilica as he celebrated the anniversary of his first Mass,” Cardinal Rigali added.
At the invitation of Bishop Richard F. Stika, Cardinal Levada visited the Diocese of Knoxville on two occasions. In 2015 he was here for the groundbreaking for the new Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He returned in 2018 for the cathedral’s dedication Mass.
“Cardinal Levada was a dedicated servant of the holy see but also he was enriched by the great experience that he had as a diocesan bishop,” Cardinal Rigali said. “He excelled at what he did. He was able to bring his pastoral know-how to the service of the Roman Curia.”
Cardinal Rigali said he hopes to attend the funeral Mass for Cardinal Levada.