Red Hat to California

So, a California bishop gets a red hat, and he’s not an arch. A social media friend asked, “Is he liberal? Conservative? Pastoral? Rigid?” I responded that he appears reasonable and he listens. Plus, the Catholic Right have already labelled him a “heretic” today. (That’s GQP-speak for “theology I dislike,” it’s not a real technical term for them.)

Within the Catholic flock, it’s a sad thing when a reasonable person can take a temperature reading of a fringe subset and conclude the opposite of what they read or hear is likely true.

From the link:

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago told the National Catholic Register he was “both happy and yet not really surprised” about (Bishop Robert) McElroy.

“He is one of the most gifted bishops in the United States, and I think that his nomination today is a sign of the esteem that he has in the life of the church, which is held by the Holy Father.”

As a diocese, San Diego dates back only to 1936, when it was separated out from Los Angeles. We seem to be moving away from a time when talented bishops were appointed to cardinal sees, then elevated to the office. These days, it seems like the appointment is based on personal qualities, and clearly, traditional cardinal spots like archdioceses will get bypassed.

Considering the San Francisco Archbishop’s dust-up with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, hasty conclusions will be drawn, no doubt. I suspect that Pope Francis and his advisors had already decided on Bishop McElroy when the news of excommunication was released. What I doubt is that American political infighting figures in red hat decisions. If it does, it seems more likely the apolitical bishops who focus on their duties get the notice.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Red Hat to California

  1. Liam says:

    HIs reputation for approachability is complicated by his reported non-response to correspondence by the late Richard Sipe on abuse allegations concerning Ted McCarrick.

    • I think some view that it is; we’ve discussed that a bit here. Richard Sipe had some discussions with Bishop McElroy–two according to the latter–and named names. But according to the bishop, when he pressed Dr Sipe, he struggled to show proof. It continues to be a he said/he said thing, and now that the psychologist is dead, we have the bishop’s word. Is it enough that he was bothered by being “served” a letter? He indicated it was, so do we take that as a truthful concession? Maybe he was less interested in allegations against brother bishops, all of whom I think were retired or dead by 2016-18. Possibly more concerned about his own diocese, still fairly new to him.

      Is there a McCarrick/McElroy connection? Across a continent? I’m a skeptic.

      Would there be a better choice? Mark Seitz might have been mine, if I were pressed to name someone from a “periphery” diocese.

      Turning back to Richard Sipe, he suggested 50% of bishops were non-celibate. What I would like to know: is that for the length of a priestly career, or actively sexual as a regular practice? What’s the comparison with married persons? It wouldn’t surprise me to learn 50% of men and women have been unfaithful to a spouse. It would surprise me if the current percentage of affairs was anywhere near that level. I suspect many bishops have had affairs, but most have moved on, or been moved on, or repented, or something.

      Dr Sipe cited 6% as a percentage of abuser priests. If you include adults abused, that strikes me as ballpark. Not at all an exaggeration.

      If it were more than just one person, perhaps a trend for Bishop McElroy. A worrying one. His own people in California would be the best judges I’d think. Not the commentariats or bloggers or a lone psychologist.

      • Liam says:

        I more or less agree. I purposely didn’t overstate the issue, but I also think, given the gravity of the larger issue, it can’t be entirely elided. With a red hat comes target practice.

  2. Devin Rice says:

    For some context, Bishop McElroy was first ordained to the episcopate in 2010 as an auxiliary for San Francisco. The Ordinary of that diocese was Archbishop Niederauer who I don’t think is anyone’s definition of a liberal. And my understanding is that Ordinary’s have a substantive say in who their auxiliaries are. Also at that time, Cardinal Levada (formerly of San Francisco and who almost certainly would have known McElroy personally) was Ratzinger’s personal choice to replace him as head of the CDF and was also on the Congregation for Bishops. It would be unthinkable for McElroy to have been elevated to the episcopate without the blessing of BXVI right hand man in Rome.

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