By Ronnie Cohen
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The Roman Catholic bishop newly chosen by the Vatican to lead the archdiocese of San Francisco and two other Bay Area counties publicly apologized on Monday after he was arrested and held behind bars over the weekend on suspicion of drunken driving.
Salvatore Cordileone, 56, appointed in July by Pope Benedict XVI to preside over more than 500,000 Catholics as metropolitan archbishop of San Francisco, was taken into custody on Saturday near San Diego State University, according to the San Diego Police Department.
He was jailed on suspicion of driving under the influence after he was stopped at a police checkpoint and failed a field sobriety test, police spokesman Detective Gary Hassen said. The bishop was released on $2,500 bail, about 11 hours after his arrest, he said.
Cordileone, a San Diego native who currently is bishop of Oakland, had dined earlier that evening with friends and another priest and was driving his mother home from the gathering when he was arrested, he said in a statement released by his diocese.
He acknowledged that his blood-alcohol level was found to be over the legal limit, apologized for his "error in judgment" and said he felt "shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the church and myself."
"I will repay my debt to society, and I ask forgiveness from my family and my friends and co-workers at the Diocese of Oakland and the Archdiocese of San Francisco," the statement said. "I pray that God, in His inscrutable wisdom, will bring some good out of this."
An arraignment in the case has been scheduled for October 9.
Cordileone is due to be installed at a special mass on October 4 as head of an archdiocese encompassing 91 parishes in San Francisco and the neighboring counties of San Mateo and Marin.
He is replacing Archbishop George Niederauer, who is retiring.
Cordileone has been particularly outspoken in church opposition to same-sex matrimony as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, a role that has put him at odds with many Catholics in the largely gay-friendly Bay area.
He also led church support for the 2008 voter-approved California state constitutional amendment, Proposition 8, that banned gay marriage.
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Steve Gorman and Philip Barbara)