Cardinal McElroy celebrates Mass of Thanksgiving in Rome

Cardinal Robert McElroy, bishop of San Diego, celebrates Mass at St. Patrick's Church in Rome. Cardinal Robert McElroy, bishop of San Diego, celebrates Mass at St. Patrick's Church in Rome Aug. 28, 2022. | Hannah Brockhaus/CNA
Cardinal Robert McElroy's coat of arms Cardinal Robert McElroy's coat of arms, printed on the front of the Mass program. | Hannah Brockhaus/CNA

Cardinal Robert McElroy spoke about Christian humility Sunday at his first public Mass since he was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis.

The Aug. 28 Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated at St. Patrick’s Church, the American Catholic parish in Rome, Italy. McElroy, 68, is the bishop of San Diego.

“Many people have the wrong notion of what Christian humility is,” McElroy said in his homily. “Humility is not putting ourselves down, it’s not underestimating ourselves, it’s not presenting ourselves as less than we are.”

Christian humility means two things, he said: “Putting aside the pretenses and facades we often put up to try to look better to others than we are. And secondly: challenging, facing, the impulse all of us have to place our own interests ahead of those of others.”

Sunday’s Mass was attended by U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly and his wife, Jill Donnelly.

American Cardinals Roger Mahony, Wilton Gregory, Joseph Tobin, Blase Cupich, Edwin O’Brien, and Daniel DiNardo concelebrated the Mass alongside seven U.S. bishops and about 40 priests.

In his homily, McElroy spoke about the 2010 movie “Of Gods and Men,” a fictionalized account of the days leading up to the kidnapping and martyrdom of seven Trappist monks in Algeria in 1996.

After debating among themselves about whether to leave their monastery or to stay put despite the danger, the monks reached a consensus by “putting aside pretenses,” the cardinal said. “So it is with our lives.”

When we live with facades, they become prisons, he said, while “humility calls us to put aside those facades and to be open with people.”

“Humility,” he continued, “calls us to try to challenge that very common human impulse to place our own selves first. It’s a very hard thing to do in practice because it’s so deep in the human heart and soul and spirit.”

“The Gospel challenges us to do precisely this,” he added, “to take account of the rights, the lives … of others, as much as we do of ourselves.”

“That is Christian humility. That is the humility Christ calls us to in the Gospel of today, and that is the humility we should ask God for today and every day,” McElroy said.

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