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Pope choice for cardinal has caused friction with traditional bishops

Pope’s choice for cardinal has caused friction with traditional American bishops

  • Cardinal-designate Robert McElroy was appointed bishop of San Diego by Francis in 2015.
  • He will receive his red hat, the symbol of the cardinals’ office, without ever having served as an archbishop.
  • The move has put him at odds with more conservative U.S. bishops.

A San Diego bishop who has disagreed with some of the more conservative U.S. bishops over the pope’s more liberal stances on the LGBTQ community, the place of women in the church, and other contentious political and cultural issues has been promoted to the rank of cardinal by Pope Francis on Saturday.

Robert McElroy, a cardinal-designate who was named bishop of San Diego Pope Francis in 2015, will also get his red hat, the emblem of the cardinals’ office, despite never having held the usual stepping-stone position of archbishop.

Before the Vatican ceremony, McElroy attempted to downplay the differences between himself and the more conservative U.S. bishops over subjects like “abortion, climate change, poverty, immigration, and racism” in an interview with NBC’s Anne Thompson.

On the matter of substance, the bishops don’t disagree all that much, according to McElroy. “The area of prioritizing is where there is a difference. The conflicts start there.”

However, McElroy has frequently chastised his fellow American bishops in public for failing to fully support Francis’ pastoral agenda, and in 2017 he offended many conservative Roman Catholics by dubbing Donald Trump “the candidate of disruption.”

Additionally, while Archbishop José Gomez, who oversees the far bigger Archdiocese of Los Angeles, was once again passed over for cardinal, McElroy received a promotion.

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By calling social justice movements like Black Lives Matter “pseudo-religions” last year, Gomez upset Black Catholics and others.

McElroy, who is 68 years old, is most likely going to be one of the cardinals who chooses Francis’ successor and will continue the changes that the Argentinian-born pope has fought to implement despite opposition from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other conservative Catholic clergy.

When asked if he would refuse pro-choice Democratic officials communion, as the Archbishop of San Francisco recently did to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, McElroy replied that he would not.

McElroy declared, “I believe it is an assault on the Eucharist.” It turns the church’s sign of unity, which makes us all sacramentally one in Jesus Christ, into a symbol of division.

Catholics who concur with Francis that the church needs to change and more traditional Catholics who worry about “throwing up too much of fundamental Catholic doctrine” are under “huge tension,” according to McElroy.

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According to McElroy, who is in support of women deacons, one instance of this tension where cultural differences between traditional Catholics and more progressive Catholics play a part is the ordination of women as priests.

He stated, “I don’t think the main barrier to ordaining women is exactly doctrinal. “I think the truth is that it would be tremendously upsetting in the church’s life,”

However, McElroy said he agreed with the pope that “the fact that young people are leaving the church in such great numbers” is one of the largest issues facing the Roman Catholic Church, which is still suffering from the priest sex abuse of minors scandal.

The solution to that problem and increasing the appeal of the gospel to young people must be found, according to McElroy.

The world isn’t prepared, according to McElroy, for an American pope.

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