(AP) – Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, one of Pope Francis’ ideological allies who has often quarreled with more conservative U.S. bishops, was named Sunday by the pope as one of 21 new cardinals .
The Diocese of San Diego said McElroy would be installed by Pope Francis Aug. 27 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Among his notable positions, McElroy, 68, is among a minority of US bishops harshly criticizing the campaign to exclude Catholic politicians who support abortion rights from the Communion.
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“It will lead to extremely destructive consequences,” McElroy wrote in May 2021. “The Eucharist is being weaponized and deployed as a tool of political warfare. This must not happen.
In choosing McElroy, Francis ignored the senior archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone. Earlier this month, Cordileone said he would no longer allow US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive communion because of her support for abortion rights.
McElroy, in a statement, said he was “stunned and deeply surprised” by the news of his appointment.
“My prayer is that in this ministry I may render additional service to the God who has honored me on so many levels in my life,” he said. “And I also pray to be able to assist the Holy Father in his pastoral renewal of the Church.”
Cordileone released a brief statement noting that McElroy is a native San Franciscan and offering congratulations on the nomination. The statement makes no mention of the differences between the two clerics.
Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who worked with McElroy for many years, also offered his congratulations — adding that the new cardinal “will serve the global church well.”
“By appointing Bishop Robert McElroy Cardinal, Pope Francis has shown his pastoral concern for the Church in the United States,” Gomez said in a written statement.
McElroy received a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard in 1975 and a master’s degree in history from Stanford in 1976.
He studied at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, and in 1985 earned a degree in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. He received a doctorate in moral theology from the Gregorian University in Rome the following year and a doctorate in political science from Stanford in 1989.
He was ordained a priest in 1980 and assigned to the Diocese of San Francisco, where he served in a parish before becoming personal secretary to Archbishop John Quinn. Other California parish assignments included Redwood City and San Mateo.
He became auxiliary bishop in San Francisco in 2010. In 2015, at the start of Francis’ pontificate, he was appointed bishop of San Diego.
In recent years, McElroy has been among the relatively few U.S. bishops to question why the bishops’ conference insisted on identifying abortion as its “overriding” priority. He wondered why greater prominence had not been given to issues such as racism, poverty, immigration and climate change.
“The death toll from abortion is more immediate, but the long-term death toll from runaway climate change is greater and threatens the very future of humanity,” he said in a statement. speech in 2020.
Last year, he was among a small group of bishops signing a statement expressing his support for young LGBT people and denouncing the bullying often directed against them.
The Bishops’ statement says LGBT youth attempt suicide at much higher rates, are often homeless by families who reject them, and “are the targets of violence at alarming rates.”
“We take this opportunity to tell our LGBT friends, especially young people, that we stand with you and stand against any form of violence, bullying or harassment against you,” it read. “Above all, know that God created you, that God loves you, and that God is on your side.
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for greater LGBTQ acceptance in the Catholic church, welcomed McElroy’s appointment.
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“He represents the kind of prelate our church needs, one who will reach out, not fist, to the LGBTQ community,” DeBernardo said. “As an elector of future popes, McElroy can play a role in ensuring that the next papacy continues in the welcoming spirit of Pope Francis.”
The Diocese of San Diego stretches along California’s border with Mexico and serves more than 1.3 million Catholics in San Diego and Imperial Counties. It includes 98 parishes, 49 elementary and secondary schools, and through the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of San Diego, various social service and family support organizations throughout the region.
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