San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, shown at a Pentecost Mass in Mira Mesa, has a busy Vatican schedule this weekend. Photo by Chris Stone
Even from 6,300 miles away, San Diegans can be virtual witnesses to Bishop Robert McElroy becoming a cardinal at the Vatican.
Starting Saturday, McElroy’s journey in Rome will be live-streamed via links at the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego website.
Pope Francis will elevate McElroy and 19 others to the College of Cardinals. The assembly, called a consistory, will be streamed as will be the first Mass the San Diego spiritual leader celebrates as a cardinal the following day, Aug. 28.
Two days later, Francis will celebrate Mass with the entire College of Cardinals.
Cardinals differ from bishops in that they are advisers to the pope and have a say in the future of the Catholic Church by voting in the Papal Conclave for the pope’s successor in case of retirement or death.
McElroy will continue to lead the Diocese of San Diego.
Viewers may also follow McElroy’s journey in Rome on the diocese’s bilingual social media channels: Facebook (@DioceseSanDiego) and Instagram (@SDCatholics).
Here is the schedule for McElroy’s appearances — all San Diego time:
- Saturday, Aug. 27: Vatican Consistory and Creation of New Cardinals is 7-9 a.m. at St. Peter’s Basilica.
- Sunday, Aug. 28: McElroy’s first Mass as cardinal is 8-9 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic American Parish.
- Tuesday, Aug. 30: Closing Mass for College of Cardinals at 8:30 a.m. at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Other activities involving McElroy, which won’t be live-streamed, are a reception in his honor Friday at the Ambassador’s Residence at U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, and the new cardinal’s participation in the Extraordinary Meeting of College of Cardinals on Aug. 29 and 30.
McElroy, 68, is the only American the pope named a cardinal in May. He will join six other U.S. cardinals.
Once he returns to San Diego, the new cardinal will preside at the Bilingual Commissioning Mass for evangelization and catechetical ministry from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, 3888 Paducah Drive in Clairemont.
On Sept. 10, McElroy will be celebrant at the Feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz. Procession of the San Lorenzo statue begins at 9 a.m. A rosary in the church is at 9:30 a.m., followed by a welcome by Father Emilio Magaña, the pastor at the parish at 9:50 a.m.
The Mass begins at 10 a.m.
Upon hearing about his rise in May, McElroy said he was “stunned and deeply surprised by the news” — which the diocese said came via a phone call at 3 a.m. San Diego time.
“My prayer is that in this ministry I might be of additional service to the God, who has graced me on so many levels in my life,” he said. “And I pray also that I can assist the Holy Father in his pastoral renewal of the Church.”
In making McElroy a cardinal, the pope passed over the conservative archbishops of San Francisco and Los Angeles, two large cities that traditionally had cardinals in the past. Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
After Saturday’s ceremony, Francis will have appointed about 83 of some 133 cardinal electors.
In an interview with San Diego’s NBC7, McElroy spoke about changes he would like to see: inclusion of more women into various roles in the church, attracting more young people to the church, and emphasizing the faithful’s personal relationship with God, and not just their relationship with the church.
The Rev. James Martin, editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America, described McElroy as “one of the foremost articulators in the United States not only of Pope Francis’ vision but also the vision of the Second Vatican Council and, more basically, the vision of the Gospel.”
Martin told The Associated Press: “He has been the special champion of people on the margins, both in society and in the church. It’s not surprising that the Holy Father would have singled him out for this honor and that he would want the future Cardinal McElroy present in the conclave that will elect the next pope.”
McElroy was born in San Francisco in 1954. He earned a B.A. in history from Harvard University in 1975 and an M.A. in American history from Stanford University in 1976.
McElroy attended Saint Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco on April 12, 1980.
In 1982, Bishop McElroy became the secretary to San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn, who himself was a former auxiliary bishop of San Diego. Quinn asked McElroy to undertake graduate studies in the field of Catholic Social Teaching, and thus Bishop McElroy obtained a licentiate in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, a doctorate in moral theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in political science from Stanford.
In 1996, McElroy was appointed pastor of Saint Gregory Parish in San Mateo. McElroy was appointed auxiliary bishop of San Francisco by Pope Benedict XVI on July 6, 2010, and was ordained Sept. 7, 2010. He became the bishop of San Diego on April 15, 2015.