CRIME

Catholic Cardinal's Hawaii Getaway Ends In DUI Arrest

"I regret my error in judgment," the high-ranking Vatican official said.

08/24/2015 11:18 pm ET

One of the Roman Catholic Church's most senior clergymen was arrested last week for driving under the influence during a trip to Hawaii. 

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday that 79-year-old Cardinal William Joseph Levada, of Menlo Park, California, was stopped at about midnight Thursday in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island after a patrol car saw him swerve. 

Levada, formerly the highest ranking American official in the Vatican, was charged with driving under the influence and was released from police custody after posting $500 bail.

Hawaii County

In a statement emailed to The Huffington Post by a spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Levada said, “I regret my error in judgment. I intend to continue fully cooperating with the authorities.”

Levada, the former archbishop of Portland and San Francisco, was reportedly vacationing with other priests on the Big Island when the arrest occurred. 

When asked how the archdiocese handles situations like this, spokesman Michael Brown said that in this specific case, "'punishment' is not a factor."

“Speaking generally at all levels of the organization, such things would be looked at on a case-by-case basis," he wrote in an email to HuffPost. "Where a lapse in judgment occurred, the matter would probably be considered less serious. If the matter seemed to indicate a more serious problem, this would be treated more seriously.  This would be true at all employee levels."

Franco Origlia via Getty Images
New cardinal William Joseph Levada receives the biretta cap from Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter's Square, March 24, 2006 in Vatican City. The Pontiff installed 15 new cardinals during the Consistory ceremony. 

Catholic cardinals, traditionally seen as "princes of the church," are appointed by the pope and are second to him in terms of church hierarchy. Currently, there are 219 cardinals worldwide, including 15 in the United States

In 2005, former Pope Benedict XVI named Levada as his successor as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. One year later, Benedict named him a cardinal. 

Since his retirement as Prefect in 2012, Levada has held the position of Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was part of the conclave that elected Pope Francis in 2013. 

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Levada is scheduled to appear in Kona District Court Sept. 24. A police spokeswoman declined to provide the newspaper with Levada's blood alcohol content. 

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