New San Diego Bishop Rushes to Push Immigration Reform

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Native Californian Monsignor Robert McElroy of San Francisco received appointment from the Vatican Tuesday to the position of Roman Catholic bishop of San Diego. Hours later, McElroy announced that he would pressure Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Such plans have involved effective amnesty for significant numbers of foreign citizens currently illegally present in the United States.

Monsignor McElroy is considered a champion of Pope Francis’s teachings. The San Diego Union-Tribune quoted El Cajon’s Holy Trinity Catholic School principal Francie Wright, who called McElroy, “so progressive, so open, so in line with our new pope.”

Last December Pope Francis penned a letter in response to communication from Kino Border Initiative student participants. In it, Francis indicated contempt for some of those advocating enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. That letter read, in part, that the Kino students learned to “strive against the propagation of stereotypes, from people who only see in immigration a source of illegality, social conflict and violence, can contribute much to show the world a Church, without borders, as Mother of all.”

Fox News Latino reports that Francis has made the issue a priority and is expected to push the issue during his September visit to the United States. While here, the Pope is scheduled to address Congress.

Monsignor McElroy says the U.S. has fallen short in dealing with immigrants, reports the Associated Press. He indicated that the church relies on Hispanic support.

Coming out of San Francisco, where he has been an auxiliary bishop since 2010, the 61-year-old McElroy has history degrees from Harvard and Stanford according to the Associated Press. He also studied theology at Berkeley and received doctorates in moral theology and political science at Rome’s Gregorian University and Stanford, respectively.

The U-T wrote that McElroy, “has written several articles and spoken at conferences about income inequality and outreach to the poor.” McElroy has faced criticism for elevating issues of economic and social justice to a level that rivals church issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. John Paul the Great Catholic University professor Michael Barber made a point of pre-empting accusations of McElroy’s liberalism, calling them a mistake, the U-T reports.

McElroy will replace Bishop Cirilo Flores, who passed away after losing a fight with cancer last September. McElroy will be formally installed April 15.

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