SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco's new Roman Catholic archbishop made self-deprecating jokes about his recent drunken-driving arrest during his formal installation ceremony, which came just days after he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.
But Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, a strong supporter of California's ban on same-sex marriage, did not refer to the distress his appointment has aroused in San Francisco and mentioned marriage only obliquely Thursday.
Amid heavy security and the splendor of his faith's most sacred rites, Cordileone told an audience of more than 2,000 invited guests at St. Mary's Cathedral he was grateful for the support he had received from people of different religious and political viewpoints after the Aug. 25 arrest in his hometown of San Diego.
"I know in my life God has always had a way of putting me in my place. I would say, though, that in the latest episode of my life, God has outdone himself," Cordileone said with a chuckle as he delivered his first homily as archbishop.
The 56-year-old priest, the second-youngest U.S. archbishop, went on to say he did not know "if it's theologically correct to say God has a way of making himself known in this way" and asked for the indulgence of other high-ranking church leaders in the audience.
Cordileone had been scheduled to appear in court on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence next Tuesday. Court records show he pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge of reckless driving, an option frequently given to first-time DUI offenders, said Gina Coburn, a spokeswoman for the San Diego city attorney.
The standard sentence for reckless driving is three years' probation and a $1,120 fine, Coburn said.
Cordileone's arrest came after he was stopped at a police checkpoint near San Diego State University. His mother and a visiting priest from Germany were with him in the car he was driving. He said at the time that he had consumed some alcohol while having dinner with friends, then decided to drive his mother home.
As Cordileone spoke during Thursday's Mass, about three dozen gay rights advocates gathered outside the cathedral to protest his induction, opposite a much larger group singing hymns of welcome for the new archbishop.
Cordileone was one of the early engineers of California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in 2008 and since 2011 has chaired the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' subcommittee charged with opposing efforts to legalize gay unions.
Several members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a performing arts troupe of men dressed in nuns' habits, showed up to highlight Cordileone's connection to the "dogma of bullying" they said the same-sex marriage ban represents.
Pope Benedict XVI selected Cordileone on July 27 to replace retiring Archbishop George Niederauer. Opposition to same-sex marriage has emerged as a principal theme of Benedict's papacy.