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US cardinal arrested in Hawaii on drink-driving charge

Cardinal William J. Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco (CNS)

An American cardinal has been arrested in Kailua-Kona, on the island of Hawaii, for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Cardinal William Levada, a retired Vatican official, was arrested at about midnight on August 19. Cardinal Levada, 79, was released after posting $500 in bail. He is due to appear in court on September 24.

Cardinal Levada, formerly archbishop of San Francisco and archbishop of Portland, Oregon, said in a statement issued on August 24 by the Archdiocese of San Francisco, “I regret my error in judgment. I intend to continue fully co-operating with the authorities.”

The news was first reported by the Hawaii Tribune Herald daily newspaper, which said he was on holiday with priest friends in Hawaii at the time of the incident.

Cardinal Levada retired in 2012 and took part in the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis. He is prefect emeritus for the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and now lives in Menlo Park, California, near San Francisco.

“Punishment is not a factor” in Cardinal Levada’s case, San Francisco archdiocesan spokesman Michael Brown said in an email to the Huffington Post.

“Speaking generally at all levels of the organisation, such things would be looked at on a case-by-case basis,” Brown added. “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.”

Police have declined to release Cardinal Levada’s blood alcohol level. The legal limit in Hawaii is 0.08 percent.