OAKLAND, California, August 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - San Francisco’s newly-appointed archbishop says that while Church leaders have been right to target Obama’s HHS mandate as an attack on religious liberty, the controversy has given the Church a crucial opportunity to reach the culture about the need for openness to life.

“While the leadership of faith communities throughout the country has rightly kept the focus on religious liberty and freedom of conscience, nonetheless, the HHS mandate has put the Church’s teaching on responsible parenthood and the legitimate regulation of birth front and center,” says Archbishop-elect Salvatore Cordileone, currently the bishop of Oakland.

In his Aug. 20th column for The Catholic Voice, Oakland’s diocesan newspaper, Cordileone writes that the high-profile controversy over Obama’s HHS mandate “calls us to take advantage of this moment to educate our people on all the various aspects of the Church’s teaching that, for grave reasons, a married couple may have recourse to the infertile periods of the woman’s cycle in order to delay the begetting of new offspring.”

He adds that the Diocese of Oakland will “seize this opportunity” by dedicating a series of articles in The Catholic Voice to the Church’s teachings on natural family planning and responsible parenthood.

Cordileone also points out that the World Health Organization has classified hormonal contraceptives as a Class 1 carcinogen after dozens of studies found they are linked to breast and cervical cancer.

“Why would the government require, for the sake of women’s health, insurance coverage of a medication the World Health Organization classifies as a Class 1 carcinogen?” he asks.

“This is just the starting point — i.e., physical health — to understanding the wisdom of the Church’s teaching in this area,” he adds.

The staunchly orthodox prelate was appointed Archbishop of San Francisco on July 27th in a move heralded as a “bombshell” given the city’s reputation as a liberal stronghold.

The appointment elicited strong reaction from media and the city’s homosexual activists because of Bishop Cordileone’s history of defending true marriage. He currently leads the U.S. bishops’ nation-wide fight against same-sex “marriage” and was one of the lead campaigners for Proposition 8.

Though he has yet to take over, Cordileone’s presence was already felt earlier this month when the Archdiocese of San Francisco banned an event featuring drag queens that was scheduled for Most Holy Redeemer Parish in the Castro district.

“I am the new pastor. There is a new archbishop. The archdiocese told me straight out, ‘No drag queens,’” Fr. Brian Costello told The Bay Area Reporter.

The archbishop-elect faced a potential speed bump in his transition to the diocese this week when he was arrested for driving under the influence. He was stopped at a routine checkpoint in San Diego around 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 25th while driving his mother home from a dinner party, and spent a couple hours in jail before being released on a $2,500 bond.

He quickly apologized, calling the incident an “error in judgment” and expressing shame for “the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself.”

Church observers are saying the incident will not affect his appointment to San Francisco, but Bill Donohue of the Catholic League warned Wednesday that critics are attempting to use the incident to silence Cordileone.

Donohue singled out a blog post by Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter in which the commentator expressed hope that the incident “will invite [Cordileone] to think with greater compassion about the complicated lives we all lead today.”

“Just as his arrest does not tell us all there is to know about him, so too, does the fact that a couple uses contraception, or that a given man or woman is gay, exhaust all there is to know about them,” Winters added.

According to Donohue, “All of this is code for ‘shut up and leave the culture to us.’”

“Winters, and his ilk, want nothing more than to intimidate Bishop Cordileone,” he continued. “They know he is bright, courageous and faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church. That is why they would like to silence him, especially on sexual issues. We stand with Bishop Cordileone and urge him not to break stride. We are confident he will not.”