CNA sought clarification from the San Diego diocese. A spokesman said the cardinal-designate’s comment “wasn’t in the context of his support or opposition to the idea, but was intended to express his observation of the delegate attitudes at the Amazon synod.”
Pope Francis has asked two commissions to study the question of a female diaconate in the Catholic Church, the second of which was instituted in 2020.
On the matter of Catholics who are leaving the Church, McElroy said that the Catholic Church in San Diego and Imperial counties shows more “vibrancy” than other parts of the state.
“I take no credit for that,” he said, crediting this feature in part to the many immigrants and children of immigrants who reside there.
McElroy said one challenge Catholics must face is how to hand on the faith to the next generation. New methods of evangelization, particularly to young people, is “our highest priority pastorally,” he said. A diocesan synod on young people developed a series of strategies, but these have not been implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The cardinal-designate said that the problem of individual priests abusing minors became a major problem when the priests were simply reassigned after an accusation. McElroy said this was a “terrible, sinful pattern in the life of the Church.”
“We’ve changed so that should not occur now,” he said, adding “we can’t put it behind us.”
In his other remarks, McElroy said he had “very poor” Italian. He also discussed his health, including his quadruple bypass surgery last year.
The cardinal-to-be also rejected the possibility that he or any other American could be elected to the papacy, citing the extreme economic and political power that the United States currently holds.
“I don’t think an American should be pope,” he said. “I’d oppose any American being elected pope.”
McElroy said his work as Bishop of San Diego would continue.
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“I will have to be traveling a bit more but other than that my life won’t change very much,” he said. The day he had learned that Pope Francis had named him cardinal, he continued with his appointments to administer the sacrament of Confirmation at two different churches in his diocese.
Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed the announcement that McElroy would be a cardinal.
“His strong faith and the pastoral concern for the faithful he has shown in his diocese will serve the global Church well,” Gomez said.