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San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy delivered this Homily at the special Mass Dec. 4 at the Community Concourse to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe.

It is my great joy today to celebrate with you and the entire Catholic community of the Diocese of San Diego the magnificent feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Since coming to San Diego, I have shared many moments of faith and celebration with our local Church, but none surpasses in importance the richness of this day on which we honor the Mother of the Lord, and rejoice in the fact that she appeared in the Americas at a particularly crucial moment in the history of the New World, coming to a young man of simplicity and faith to give him a message through which she has blessed North, Central and South America for more than 400 years.

The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe is first and foremost a gift of maternal love and hope to the Church in the Americas and a reminder that the mother's embrace which our blessed Mother gave to her son Jesus when he walked this earth, is the same embrace that she gives to each and every one of us. It is a mother's love which constantly points to the immense mercy and compassion of our God, who has created us in our own mother's womb and accompanies us to the end of time. The love of Our Lady of Guadalupe is also a challenging love, which calls us to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its totality. Finally, the love of Our Lady is the love of discipleship and sacrifice, for it embodies the reality that Mary, the mother of the Lord, constantly molded her life in sacrifice for others and in response to the will of God, even when it was very costly for her to do so.

In today's Gospel, John the Baptist rejects the presumption of the Pharisees that they, as men of wealth and power in society, had first claim to and greater understanding of the nature of the salvation which God was sending to the Jewish people. And at the core of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego is a declaration that wealth and power are not the signs of blessedness or of discipleship, but rather are more often obstacles to accepting the Gospel. During his visit to the Basilica of Guadalupe this past year, Pope Francis pointed to this reality of our faith:

"On many occasions, Juancito said to Our Lady that he was not the right person; on the contrary, if she wished the work to progress she should choose others since he was not learned or literate and did not belong to the groups who could make the shrine a reality. But Mary, who was persistent, said to him he would be her ambassador.

“In this way she managed to awaken something Juan Diego did not know how to express, a veritable banner of love and justice: no one could be left out of the building of that other shrine, the shrine of life, the shrine of our communities, our societies and our cultures. We are all necessary, especially those who normally do not count because they are ‘not up to the task’ or because ‘they do not have the necessary funds’ to build all these things. God's shrine is the life of his children, of everyone in whatever condition…”

In these days in our nation, Our Lady of Guadalupe weeps, and the banner of love and justice is under attack, because undocumented immigrants face the specter of new federal policies which could rip millions of them from their lives and families and expel them from the society which has become their home.

The Church must become the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe in this moment, protecting the undocumented community who are a sacred part of both the Catholic community and the national community of the United States. We must resist unjust laws which will destroy families and tear apart the social fabric of our country. We must accompany the undocumented and refugees in their current suffering. We must refuse to acquiesce in or cooperate with the grave evil of mass deportations which is being proposed by many.

Let us pray that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will refuse to overturn DACA and DAPA and will confine their deportation policies to those who have committed serious crimes. And let us remember that ours is the God of today's first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, the God who shall judge the poor with justice and decide aright for the land's afflicted.

Viva our Lady of Guadalupe!

Viva the God of justice!

Viva Jesus Christ!

 


 

 

El Obispo Católico de San Diego, Robert McElroy, celebró una Misa especial el 4 de diciembre en homenaje a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. He aquí el texto de la Homilía que pronunció:

 

Es mi gran alegría celebrar hoy con ustedes y la entera comunidad católica de la Diócesis de San Diego la magnífica fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Desde llegar a San Diego, he compartido muchos momentos de fe y celebración con nuestra Iglesia local pero ninguno supera en importancia la riqueza de este día que honramos a la Madre de nuestro Señor y regocijamos en el hecho que ella apareció en las Américas en un momento particular y crucial en la historia del Nuevo Mundo, llegando a un joven sencillo y de fe para darle un mensaje de bendición para Norte, Centro y Sur América hace más de 400 años. 

El mensaje del Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe es más que nada un regalo de amor materno y esperanza a la Iglesia de las Américas y un recuerdo que el abrazo que nuestra Bendita Madre le dio a su hijo Jesús cuando caminó esta tierra es el mismo abrazo que nos da a cada uno de nosotros. Es el amor de una madre que constantemente apunta a la inmensa misericordia y compasión de nuestro Dios, quien nos crio en el vientre de nuestra propia madre y nos acompaña hasta el fin del tiempo. El amor de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe es también un amor desafiante, que nos llama a vivir el Evangelio de Jesucristo en su totalidad. Finalmente, el amor de Nuestra Señora es el amor de discipulado y de sacrificio, porque personifica la realidad que María, la madre de nuestro Señor, constantemente vivió su vida en sacrificio de otros y en respuesta a la voluntad de Dios, aun cuando le fue muy costoso hacerlo.

En el Evangelio de hoy, Juan el Bautista rechaza la presunción de los fariseos que ellos, como hombres de riqueza y poder en la sociedad, tenían derecho a y un mejor entendimiento de la naturaleza de la salvación que Dios enviaba al pueblo judío. Y central a las apariciones de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe ante Juan Diego es una declaración que riqueza y poder no son símbolos de santidad o discipulado, sino más bien obstáculos para aceptar el Evangelio. Durante su visita a la Basílica de Guadalupe este último año, el Papa Francisco apuntó a esta realidad de nuestra fe:

“En repetidas ocasiones Juancito dijo a la Virgen que él no era la persona adecuada, al contrario, si quería llevar adelante esa obra tenía que elegir a otros ya que él no era ilustrado, letrado o perteneciente al grupo de los que podrían hacerlo. María, empecinada —con el empecinamiento que nace del corazón misericordioso del Padre— le dice: no, que él sería su embajador.

“Así, ella logró despertar algo que Juan Diego no sabía expresar, una bandera de amor y justicia: Nadie pudiera ser excluido de construir aquel otro santuario, el santuario de la vida, de nuestras comunidades, nuestras sociedades y nuestras culturas. Todos somos necesarios, especialmente aquellos que normalmente no cuentan porque ‘no pueden hacer el trabajo’ o porque ‘no tienen dinero’ para construir todas estas cosas. El santuario de Dios es la vida de sus hijos, de todos, no obstante su condición… ”

Hoy en día, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe llora, y la bandera de amor y justicia está bajo ataque porque inmigrantes indocumentados enfrentan el espectro de nuevas políticas federales que pudieran arrancar a millones de ellos de sus vidas y familias y expulsarlos de la sociedad que se ha vuelto su hogar.

En este momento la Iglesia debe tomar el papel de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, protegiendo a la comunidad indocumentada que es parte sagrada de tanto la comunidad católica como la comunidad nacional de los Estados Unidos. Debemos oponernos a leyes injustas que destruyen a familias y destrozan al tejido de nuestro país. Debemos acompañar a los indocumentados y refugiados en su actual sufrimiento. Debemos de rehusarnos a aceptar o colaborar con la grave maldad de las deportaciones masivas que muchos proponen.

Oremos que el Presidente-electo Trump y el nuevo Congreso se rehúsen a anular DACA y DAPA y limiten sus políticas de deportación a quienes han cometido delitos serios. Y debemos acordarnos que nuestro Dios es el Dios de la primera lectura del profeta Isaías, el Dios que juzgará los pobres con justicia y decidirá bien para los afligidos.

¡Qué viva Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe!

¡Qué viva el Dios de la justicia!

íQué viva Jesuscristo!

  


 

 

We gather here today at an important juncture in the political life of our nation.

On one level, we are witnessing the peaceful transition of federal political power from one party to another, a tradition of governance which has been central to the American experiment in democracy for more than two centuries.  For the Catholic community, this shift in the political culture signals greater progress in the vital areas of protecting the unborn and religious liberty, but greater challenges in addressing the critical questions of poverty, immigration and the environment.  It is essential that in this moment, which has followed a deeply destructive political campaign, citizens and public leaders do not follow the example of many political opponents of President Obama who from his election onward worked toward the failure of his presidency.  Such an oppositional pathway is destructive, contrary to the American tradition and in contradiction to the Catholic teaching that calls citizens to support their national leaders in their efforts to advance the common good.   Thus it is important for both the Catholic community and the nation as a whole to pray for President-elect Trump and the new Congress as they take office, and to contribute to making them effective instruments in advancing the deepest aspirations of the Founders of our nation.

But our political responsibility as Catholics and citizens does not end there.  For there is a profound sickness in the soul in American political life.  This sickness tears at the fabric of our nation’s unity, undermining the core democratic consensus that is the foundation for our identity as Americans.   It is our responsibility to heal our nation through actions of civic engagement which lie beyond the boundaries of party structures, and indeed of government itself.

This will require altering the role of partisanship in our individual, social and national lives.   Party choice has ceased to be merely a political category and instead has become a wider form of personal identity.   This often has searing negative impacts within families, friendships and civic life, as citizens increasingly confine themselves within partisan media and culture silos, and are encouraged in their anger against those who disagree.

Healing our nation will also require recapturing a sense of solidarity in our country’s social, political and economic life.   The principle of solidarity, in Catholic social teaching “requires that men and women of our day cultivate a greater awareness that they are debtors of the society of which they have become a part.”   It is from this recognition that they most central bonds of cultural and societal union can be born.  Pope John Paul II, the major architect of this social doctrine, pointed unceasingly to the reality that all of us as citizens are bound together in God’s grace and commitment “to the good of one’s neighbor, with the readiness, in the Gospel sense, to lose one self for the sake of the other rather than exploiting him.”

Finally, we must turn as a society from selective outrage based upon partisan and ideological categories to a comprehensive compassion for all those who are suffering in our midst, combined with care, analysis and action.  The reality that young black men fear for their security when facing law enforcement, the sense of dispossession felt by young white men in the Rust Belt without a college education, the fear that police face every day trying to protect society, rampant patterns of sexual harassment and assault directed against women, the institutionalized patterns of poverty and ever increasing economic inequality in America   – these are all wounds in our society which must be addressed.  

It is to address one of these major wounds of American society that we gather today here in San Diego.  For during the past months the specter of a massive deportation campaign aimed at ripping more than ten million undocumented immigrants from their lives and families has realistically emerged as potential federal policy.   We must label this policy proposal for what it is – an act of injustice which would stain our national honor in the same manner as the progressive dispossessions of the Native American peoples of the United States and the interment of the Japanese. 

For us, as the Catholic community of the United States, it is unthinkable that we will stand by while more than ten percent of our flock is ripped from our midst and deported.  It is equally unthinkable that we as Church will witness the destruction of our historic national outreach to refugees at a time when the need to offer safe haven to refugees is growing throughout the world.

It is important to keep in mind that in recent days President-elect Trump has signaled a more focused immigration policy aimed at staunching the flow of new undocumented immigrants at the border and deporting those guilty of substantive crimes.   And it is important to engage in dialogue with the administration and Congress to try to achieve the just application of these two principles.

But a stance of waiting has its perils.  For it can lead to the ever greater normalization of mass deportations which will be harder to stop down the road.   And this waiting has a horrendous price in the suffering which is already occurring within the undocumented community within our nation who are paralyzed by the fear of the unknown and the harshness of statements made during the campaign.

That is why the maintenance of the current policy on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is so important as a trip-wire which will signal the administration’s long-term intent on deportation policy.  The Dreamers are everything that Americans seek in those who enter into our society: eighty five percent have lived in the United States for more than ten years; ninety three percent have a high school degree, and forty percent attended college.   Eighty-nine percent have a job and pay taxes.   If the new administration eliminates existing protections for these model citizens who will contribute so manifestly to building an America which is truly great, it will be an unmistakable sign that the new administration is embarking upon the pathway of massive deportation, and the Catholic community must move immediately to wide-scale opposition.  And we must move with the same energy, commitment and immediacy that have characterized Catholic opposition on the issues of abortion and religious liberty in recent years.  The Church can never acquiesce in or cooperate with such a grave evil in our society.

Yesterday we entered the season of Advent.   And Advent is a time of waiting.  But for the Jewish people, waiting was not a passive activity.  It was a time of building justice, proclaiming God’s Word and deepening unity.    Let these days be for us just such a time of waiting, in order to discern more fully the intentions of our new government.   But in our waiting let us always remember that we are called to be the people of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses, and the disciples of the Jesus who himself was refugee and immigrant.  And in that waiting, let us always make clear that we stand with the undocumented and the refugee communities in this moment of suffering in a bond of accompaniment and protection which will only grow stronger as the threats grow more profound.


 

Statement by Most Rev. Robert McElroy concerning the distribution of political material at Catholic Parishes

Catholic teaching points to the importance of several major issues in this presidential election year: abortion, poverty and economic justice, the environment, euthanasia, immigration, religious liberty, and solidarity within society.  This final issue of solidarity has a particular importance at this moment because the very democratic impulse which is the foundation for our national unity is being eroded by partisan venom and personal attack.

 

In this environment, it is vital that all institutions in our nation participate in discussions about the election with civility and balance.  It is particularly vital that religious communities do so.

 

This duty has been violated by one of our parishes, and thus it is essential to make clear:
 

  • It is contrary to Catholic teaching to state that voting for a Democrat or Republican automatically condemns the voter to hell;
  • It is contrary to Catholic faith to state that gun control legislation is a form of slavery;
  • It is contrary to Catholic faith to fan the flames of hatred against Muslims or any religious group.
     

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a comprehensive statement on the substantive implications of Catholic faith for the current election.

It can be accessed at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/index.cfm.  I urge all Catholics to consult these teachings, pray about the vote that you are going to make, and then in conscience select the candidates whom you are going to vote for in this very difficult year.​

 


 

 

Remarks by the Most Rev. Robert McElroy

University of San Diego

Center for Catholic Thought and Culture

 Nov. 1, 2016

THE HEALING OF A NATION

The contrast between the beautiful vision of politics that Pope Francis presented while speaking to a joint session of Congress last year and the political campaigns that have unfolded in recent months could not be more heartbreaking.

In his address to Congress, Pope Francis began by comparing the fundamental responsibilities of America’s political leaders to the role of Moses, emphasizing that the first call of public service is “to protect by means of the law the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.”   

Recalling the martyrdom of Abraham Lincoln, Francis pointed to the foundational role that freedom plays in American society and politics, and noted that “building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.”

Citing the figure of Dorothy Day and her thirst for justice in the world, the Pope emphatically demanded that the economic genius of the American nation must be complemented by an enduring recognition that all economies must serve justice comprehensively, with special care for the poor.

Finally, invoking the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Pope Francis urged the nation’s political leaders to deepen America’s heritage as a land of dreams: “Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment.  Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.”

In Francis’ message the core of the vocation of public service, and of all politics, is to promote the integral development of every human person and of society as a whole.  It is a vocation that requires special and self-sacrificial concern for the poor, the unborn, the vulnerable and the marginalized.  It is a commitment to pursue the common good over that of interest groups or parties or self-aggrandizement.  It is a profoundly spiritual and moral undertaking.

This same spiritual and moral identity is also emblazoned upon the most foundational act of citizenship in our society, that of voting for candidates for office. Thus, ultimately it is to the citizens of our nation as a whole that the challenge of Pope Francis is directed.  Catholic teaching proclaims that voting is inherently an act of discipleship for the believer. But American political life increasingly frames voting choices in destructive categories that rob them of their spiritual character and content. 

It is for this reason that the foundation for an ethic of discipleship in voting for the Catholic community in the United States today lies not in the embrace of any one issue or set of issues, but rather in a process of spiritual and moral conversion about the very nature of politics itself.

I speak to you tonight as a bishop who is part of a long tradition in Catholic episcopal leadership in the United States which holds that both the Church and society are best served when bishops refrain from publicly endorsing or favoring, either directly or indirectly, specific candidates in partisan elections.  This tradition stretches back to John Carroll, the first bishop in the United States.  It is reflected in the consistent practice of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which issues its moral principles for guidance in presidential elections a full year before the elections itself, so as to ensure that the bishops will not be seen as tailoring their teachings to favor particular candidates.

It is sometimes said that this tradition of neutrality in partisan elections springs from the tax status of the Church, or from a desire to avoid divisiveness within Catholic communities.  But in reality its foundation is far deeper.

It is a core teaching of Catholic ecclesiology that the sanctification of the world falls primarily to lay women and men.  And it is a core teaching of Catholic moral theology that it is deeply within the conscience of the individual believer that key moral decisions must be made. The foundational assertion of democracy is that the average citizen is best equipped to guide society through electoral choice. The corollary within Catholic teaching which supports the democratic impulse is the proposition that in discerning which candidate will best advance the common good, the prudential decision of each citizen remains paramount. Thus while bishops must teach on principles of moral judgment, and outline key elements of the common good which are at stake in a particular historical moment, they should refrain from favoring particular candidates.

The Major Elements of the Political Common Good in Contemporary America

During his address to the bishops of the United States last year, Pope Francis outlined the major issues which constitute the political common good in the United States at the present moment: “I encourage you, then, my brothers, to confront the challenging issues of our time.  Ever present within them is life as gift and responsibility. The future freedom and dignity of our societies depend on how we face these challenges. The innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden, the victims of terrorism, war, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man’s predatory relationship with nature,…. the family.” 

These elements form the central moral claims that voters must weigh as they seek to approach their political responsibilities through a framework of discipleship.  Hauntingly, Pope Francis advances these claims not as abstractions, but with the human faces of the victims who suffer concretely from the failure of our society to advance specific dimensions of the common good.  As voters seeking to be disciples, we must maintain a focus on these very human faces, so as to inoculate ourselves from the powerful tendency in our culture to selectively minimize the power of any of these moral claims out of self-interest or partisanship, class or race. 

Moral conversion to the common good requires an ever deeper affective understanding of how committing to the dignity of the human person radically embraces each of the issues that Pope Francis identified as constitutive of the common good of the United States at this moment in our history.  It requires, in a very real sense, the development of “a Catholic political imagination” which sees the connections between poverty and the disintegration of families; war and the global refugee crisis; the economic burdens of the aging and legalized physician-assisted suicide.  

 

 

Five Pillars of Life

As Pope Francis said to the bishops of the United States: “I encourage you, then, my brothers, to confront the challenging issues of our time.  Ever present within them is life as gift and responsibility.”

At this moment there are five preeminent political issues facing the United States which are integrally related to the idea of life as both gift and responsibility.

The first of these is abortion.  The direct destruction of more than one million human lives every year constitutes a grievous wound upon our national soul and the common good.   It touches upon the very core of our understanding of life as gift and responsibility.  As Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si, “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is unwanted and creates difficulties? If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.’”

The second preeminent issue facing the United States today is poverty. In a world of vast wealth, more than five million children die every year from hunger, poor sanitation and the lack of potable water.   Millions more die from a lack of basic medical care.  In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis wrote: “just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.” The United States is the most powerful economic actor in the world today, and an ethic of solidarity demands that America take dramatic steps to reform the international systems of trade, finance and development assistance in order to save millions of lives. Moreover, inside the United States, the realities of exclusion and inequality created by poverty are growing, menacingly sapping the solidarity which is the foundation for our national identity and accentuating the fault lines of race and class. In the richest nation in human history homeless live on our streets, the seriously mentally ill are all too often left without effective care, and our prisons overflow with young men who are disproportionately poor and of color.

A third preeminent issue centering upon life as gift and responsibility is the care for the earth, our common home. The progressive degradation of the global environment has created increased poverty and death among many of the poorest peoples on earth. Each year thousands of species are destroyed, lost forever to our children and to the earth’s future.  Most chillingly of all, science has established the existence of anthropogenic climate change. Pope Francis underscored the urgency of global action saying: “Every year the problems are getting worse. We are at the limits.  If I may use a strong word, I would say that we are at the limits of suicide.”

Another preeminent question at stake in the political common good of the United States today is assisted suicide. For at its core, assisted suicide is the bridgehead of a movement to reject the foundational understanding of life as gift and responsibility when confronting end-of-life issues. As with abortion, this movement corrodes society’s responsibility to secure the health of its members as an integral component of the common good. It obscures the real pathway to guaranteeing authentic death with dignity for all which lies in providing for every member of society a comprehensive continuum of care which includes skilled medical care, companionship, spiritual support and palliative care.

The final preeminent political issue facing us in this national election is that of immigration.  As bishop of this border diocese I weep at the human suffering, destruction of families, degradation of children and teen-agers, and division within our society which comes from our national inability to find a just and comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system.  Solutions which combine border enforcement, pathways to legalization and citizenship, and controls on future illegal immigration through reliable job security mechanisms have repeatedly come close to enactment during the past 15 years, only to be buried in partisan rancor. Our political leadership must solve this eminently soluble issue before it further corrodes family life and the cohesion of our nation.

Next Tuesday will be a test for our nation, a test about our ability to set aside the partisan rancor which divides us, and instead focus upon those central issues of the common good that confront us as a people. This test is deepened by our increasing recognition that voting is also a profound judgment about the character of the candidates, not only about their willingness and ability to enact what they have promised, but also because political leadership in our nation helps to forge and deepen, or to degrade and weaken the moral fabric of our society.  The responsibility to vote stands as the primary call of citizenship in all democratic societies, and stands so particularly at this troubled moment in our national history.

A Deeper Responsibility

     I have come to believe that in this particular presidential election year, while the responsibility to vote in the national election remains a first responsibility for our citizenry, it is not the most important one that we as Americans must perform for our democracy at this pivotal moment in our nation’s history. I am convinced that the greatest challenge to our democratic tradition will take place after the election, in the first months of 2017. There is a profound sickness of the soul in American political life.  This sickness tears at the fabric of our nation’s unity, undermining the core democratic consensus that is the foundation for our identity as Americans. For us to confront and eradicate this sickness of the soul, it is necessary that there be four substantial conversions within our political life which cannot be merely the work of elites, but an undertaking of the whole citizenry.

  1. We must turn from warfare to governance.  

The long tradition of an American political culture which valued coherent and effective governance has largely been evacuated in recent decades. The “war-room” mentality of the perpetual campaign is deeply corrosive to our society and to our national well-being.While partisanship will be forever intertwined with the action of governance, a dedication to governance over partisan gain must be restored in the coming months if our nation is to flourish, address its many deep problems and reconstruct a sense of authentic unity.

It is certain that some elements of shared governance will emerge in the configuration of Executive and Congressional power that will result from the election of 2016.  The leadership of both parties must work together on practical issues which can command a majority and move to reform aimed at the common good.  The ultimate trajectory of American democracy cannot be toward a partisanship which renders unity impossible and politics which turn the ethic of governance into a quaint anachronism.

For this to happen, we must demand governing patterns which do not involve continuing brinkmanship that destroy our unity, our credit, and our global reputation. We must forge anew a bipartisan foreign policy which uses the vast economic and military power of the United States to enhance the international common good. And the social media silos which make partisan animus the center of news coverage must be rejected as the enemies of American democracy and our nation, rather than their servants.

 

  1. We must turn from a culture of grievance to a culture of solidarity

The principle of solidarity, in Catholic social teaching, “requires that men and women of our day cultivate a greater awareness that they are debtors of the society of which they have become a part.”It is in this fundamental recognition that the most central bonds of cultural and societal union can be born. Pope John Paul II, the major architect of this social doctrine, pointed unceasingly to the reality that all of us as citizens are bound together in God’s grace and committee “to the good of one’s neighbor, with the readiness, in the Gospel sense, to lose one self for the sake of the other rather than exploiting him.”

 

Such a conversion within the United States will require deep self-scrutiny and reflection. It will demand a rejection of the tribal element of politics which sees voting as the opportunity to advance the well-being of our race, our class, our religious community at the expense of others.It will entail a purging of the inherent human tendency to allow anger and wedge issues to infect our voting choices. A spiritual conversion to solidarity among voters demands that we reject the increasing habit in our political culture of attributing all differences of opinion to ignorance or malice. And such a spiritual conversion prohibits us from framing political choice in the United States as essentially a competition between two partisan teams, one good and one bad, with all of the visceral enjoyment that such a competition brings.

 

Such a spiritual conversion to solidarity is not alien to the American political tradition.The Founders of the United States called it “civic virtue,” and they believed that it was absolutely essential for the success of the new experiment in democracy which they were launching.The Founders generally believed that religious belief was one of the few foundations in the hearts of men and women that could produce enduring civic virtue and the self-sacrifice which at times it demands. It was their hope that a culture of civic virtue would lead to a politics of the common good.

 

  1. We must turn from selective outrage to tending the wounds among us.

If solidarity is the pathway to unity in our nation, it is equally true that compassion for those who are hurting in every sector of our nation must be combined with care, analysis and action. The reality that young black men fear for their security when facing law enforcement, the sense of dispossession felt by young white men without a college education, the specter of deportation for mothers and fathers and children in the millions, rampant patterns of sexual harassment and assault directed against women, the fear that police face every day trying to protect society-- these are wounds in our society which tear at our social fabric and constitute immense human suffering that must be addressed. Yet in our overly politicized culture we place these elements of human suffering into different partisan boxes, sympathizing for those suffering if that suffering happens to fall into our partisan box.

 

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we must understand that this spectrum of human suffering in our nation calls upon us all, and calls upon us to act jointly.Such suffering is not the basis for social division or political identity, but rather first and foremost a demand for Christlike compassion.The plaintive call of Black Lives Matter and the populist impulse reflected in the support for Donald Trump are both signs of woundedness in our nation.The victims of globalization include both the undocumented and the displaced blue collar workers of the Midwest. The central challenge is whether we can, in solidarity meet our woundedness with care and action which are not filtered through a partisan lens.

  1. We must cease destroying the institutions which are necessary for our political life.

The corrosive nature of our contemporary politics is accentuated by the overpowering trajectory in American political life which subjects virtually every governmental and private institution in society to partisan scrutiny and judgment.  There are governmental institutions in American public life for which it is essential to maintain a deeply non-partisan identity so that our democracy can function well, yet these very institutions are under attack.  The Supreme Court has, from the time of the Bork nomination onward, been subjected to an increasingly partisan prism of judgment which has reached a point where leading members of the Senate ponder embracing a strategy of continually rejecting a priori the nominees of even a newly elected president.  The F.B.I., which is central to the notion of fairness in the American system of judgment, is beset by conflicting partisan vortices which make it impossible to proceed on highly charged cases in a non-partisan manner. And the scientific and medical agencies of government, which are the envy of the world, are debased by partisan decisions not based upon science but partisan agendas. 

Most chillingly of all, we are in these days embarking upon a presidential election in which 40 percent of the American people believe that the election may be stolen.

The sickness in the political soul of our nation will only be healed if society undertakes a massive regeneration of the political ties which unite us as a people and begin to see these ties as more important for us as a society than the partisan divisions which rend us apart. Let us ask our God to bring this most needed of blessings upon this nation which we all love so deeply.

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 28, 2016 – The Most Rev. Robert McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, today issued the following statement concerning the shooting death of a resident by a police officer in El Cajon.

“The Catholic community of San Diego and Imperial Counties is saddened by the shooting death of Alfred Olango in El Cajon and mourn with his family. While acknowledging the personal risk the men and women in uniform take daily, we call on the pertinent law enforcement authorities to be as transparent as possible in their investigation. We understand the pain the community feels. We pray for calm during this wrenching time and stand ready to work together to achieve true justice and peace for all.”

 

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 4, 2016 – The San Diego Catholic Diocese announced today the sudden death from pneumonia of Father Henry Rodriguez Jr., one of the local Church’s most recognizable community leaders.
 
        “Father Henry,” as he was known, was ordained for the diocese on July 12, 1986. His most recent assignment was to serve as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, where he arrived this summer. Previously, he was the long-time pastor at St. Jude Shrine of the West in San Diego’s Southcrest neighborhood.

     He frequently accompanied Bishop Robert McElroy at special events and celebrations, particularly those serving the Latino community.  

    Father Rodriguez served as the Church liaison to many community groups and organizations, including the San Diego Police Department, where he served as chaplain. He also served as chaplain at Mercy Hospital and hospice care. And he will be remembered for his spiritual outreach to the LGBT members in our community.

On many weekends and evenings he could be seen attending street festivals and speaking at special events, often featuring leaders from other sectors, faiths, races and ethnicities.

       Father Rodriguez’s Vigil will be Aug. 10, at 7 p.m., with Father John Dolan presiding, at St. Jude Shrine of the West Parish, 1129 South 38th St., San Diego.

    The Funeral Mass will also be at St. Jude Shrine of the West Church on Aug. 11, at 10 a.m. The principal celebrant will be Monsignor Edward Brockhaus, a longtime friend.

 Burial will be at Holy Cross Cemetery immediately following the Funeral Mass. 

 

Statement 


 

SAN DIEGO, July 29, 2016 – The Most Rev. Robert McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, today issued the following statement concerning the shooting of two police officers in San Diego on Thursday night, one fatally.

“The Catholic community of San Diego and Imperial Counties weeps with the family of  San Diego Police Officer Jonathan DeGuzman, who was killed last night, and prays for the swift recovery of his partner, Officer Wade Irwin. We recognize the great personal risk the men and women in uniform take as they work tirelessly to enforce our laws. As we await to learn the circumstances of this heart-breaking crime, it’s up to each one of us to work to prevent violence and to promote justice and peace in our communities, our cities and our nation.”
 

Statement 


 

Bishop Robert McElroy is leading a delegation of around 150 young Catholics, priests and chaperones from the San Diego Diocese who are in Krakow, Poland, through July 31 for World Youth Day. An estimated 2 million young pilgrims from 187 countries are attending the triennial conference. The bishop shared the group’s activities on July 26.
 

Bishop McElroy in Krakow for World Youth Day 2016

Bishop Robert McElroy is leading a delegation that includes Luke Maxwell, of ucantberased.com (standing next to him), Father Martin Latiff, MC, and about 150 young faithful from the San Diego Diocese in Krakow for World Youth Day.

KRAKOW, Poland – In the afternoon I celebrated Mass with 150 teenagers and young adults from the Diocese of San Diego. It was a moment of great faith and joy.  The young pilgrims shared their greatest experiences of God' grace on this trip:

  -  A young woman had not been to confession for many years, and with much trepidation she entered the confessional in the Krakow cathedral, presented her sins and received forgiveness with a rush of grace that ran through her soul. Only afterward did she learn that this particular confessional was the one that Saint John Paul Il used regularly to hear confessions when he was a priest and bishop here.

  -  The young woman who encountered the ultimate face of evil in her visit to the death camp at Auschwitz, and ultimately found hope in a Jewish prayer etched on the wall there;

  -  The young man who described the sense of oneness with millions of pilgrims from every land and race and way of life who have journeyed to Poland to encounter God and witness the face of Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit;

  -  The elderly chaperone who wept as she described the depth of faith of the young people in her group and her happiness in finding a home decades ago in the Catholic Church.

After the Mass, a group of pilgrims from San Marcos and Oceanside performed the San Diego World Youth Day dance and anthem that they had created.

In the evening, a dozen teenagers and young adults from San Diego spoke to a gathering of 20,000 American pilgrims, telling how they were caught in the lockdown and trauma of the Munich shooting, and yet continued on their pilgrimage to Krakow in unity, faith and in prayer.  They led all the American pilgrims with hundreds of American flags waving in the auditorium, in prayer for our nation, the victims of the violence around us, and for the renewal of faith and hope in our world.

At tonight's prayer service, the Gospel spoke of the Transfiguration. In today's events the grace of God and the faith, joy and energy of the young have pointed overwhelmingly to the transfiguring power of the Lord in our midst.

SD Bishop Supports Prop. 62 to Eliminate Death Penalty
Also opposes Prop. 66 that would expedite executions

SAN DIEGO, Calif., July 14, 2016 – The Most Rev. Robert McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, today issued the following statement about Props. 62 and 66, which deal with the state’s death penalty: 

“This fall, voters in California will be asked to decide on two propositions regarding the death penalty. Proposition 62, which would eliminate the death penalty in California and Proposition 66, which would expedite the death penalty process and make it easier to carry out executions.
 
“The Catholic Bishops of California are strongly united in opposing the death penalty and are urging voters to join us in supporting Proposition 62 and opposing Proposition 66.
 
“I am proud to lend my voice to this effort.
 
“State sponsored killing perpetuates the very cycle of violence that it professes to end.  It applies the ultimate sanction of death in a manner that is racially and economically biased. Most chillingly of all, in recent years more than 100 individuals on death row in the United States have been released from prison because they were innocent of the crime for which they were convicted; thus even here in America the death penalty inevitably brings with it the reality of killing innocent people.
 
“It is for is these reasons that Pope Francis has called upon the world to recognize that the death penalty ‘is an offense against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person which contradicts God's plan for man and society....It does not render justice to the victims but rather fosters vengeance.’
 
“For us as Catholics, there could be few greater contradictions to God's mercy than to have California reaffirm or even increase the use of the death penalty in this Year of Mercy.  It is essential that we, as a society, follow the counsel of Pope Francis to guarantee vigorously the security of our citizens, but to do so in a manner designed to foster respect for human life rather than to undercut it.

“In November, as we come to the end of the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, I urge Californians to embrace both justice and mercy to support Prop. 62 and oppose Prop. 66.”
 


 

The Most Rev. Robert McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, tonight delivered the following statement during the San Diego Latino/Latina/Latinx  Memorial at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral for victims of the shooting in Orlando. 

     “Our Lady of Guadalupe occupies a pivotal role in Hispanic spirituality and culture, and as we gather to mourn the Latino men and women whose precious lives were ended by cruelty, hatred and violence in Orlando, it is particularly appropriate that we point to the figure of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, the Mother of the Lord, who symbolizes on so many levels the sadness of this night.

     “In the Catholic tradition, Mary, as the Mother of Jesus, experienced seven profound sorrows, beginning with having to flee her homeland with her husband and son as refugees, and culminating in the profound suffering of watching as her son Jesus was tortured, crucified and buried.  Over the past four weeks, I have no doubt that our Lady of Guadalupe has wept for us all as a people, as our nation has experienced seven enormous sorrows that strike at the very heart of  our peacefulness, our security, our identity, our unity.

     “The sorrow of 49 women and men, filled with graces, talents and hope, targeted and killed in Orlando because of a vile prejudice against their sexual orientation.

      “The sorrow of their families and friends, who awoke to a horror of deep and unimaginable loss that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

      “The sorrow of guns and violence continually pointing to our national inability to eradicate the brutal convulsions which tear at our nation’s sense of safety and its social fabric.

     “The sorrow of the Muslim community, once again targeted not because of their religious beliefs, but by the distortion of those beliefs or the political gain which that distortion can bring.

     “The sorrow of young black men and their families and young people of color who must live in a world where racial prejudice ends the lives of even those who follow every rule.

     “The sorrow of police who are murdered because they are white or because they are blue, and the terrible toll that takes upon the families of all who dedicate their lives to enforcing justice in our nation.

     “The sorrow of recognizing that these events are not random in our nation, but constitute a profound crisis of our national soul which calls us to choose between our unity and our prejudices, our hatreds and our peace.

     “This terrible time of sorrow calls us to see one another as God sees us. There are no children of a lesser god and there are no lesser children of the one God who is the father of us all. Our failure to recognize this simple reality is the greatest sorrow of all.

     “Let us pray this night in union with Mary, mother of sorrows and mother of the Lord:

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe,
Ore para que nuestro país
That we might rebuild hope on foundations of rock
That we may come to see every life as precious and equal to our own
That we can eliminate the barriers of hatred and the terrible wounds they produce
That this cycle of violence might yield to a pathway of compassion and mutual accompaniment 
Ayúdenos, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Ayúdenos a todos. Amen.
 

 

Bishop's Statement at Latino Service

 


SAN DIEGO, July 8, 2016 – The Most Rev. Robert McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, today issued the following statement concerning the attack in Dallas, Texas, that left five police officers dead and two civilians injured:

       “The Catholic community of San Diego and Imperial Counties stands in sorrowful solidarity with the people of Dallas, and particularly with the victims of the violent and brutal attack upon the men and women who dedicate their lives to enforcing the law, often at great personal risk.

“We weep with the families of those who were shot and especially those who were killed, and we are renewed in our gratitude to officers of the law who undertake the enormously complex and difficult task of attaining justice in our society. It is a profoundly tragic irony that these officers were killed precisely at a moment when they were safeguarding citizens who were peacefully pointing to shortcomings in our criminal justice system.

“May this irony be a spur to us all to work together to end the scourge of violence which plagues our nation, to deepen the justice and unity which our Founders sought to erect in the United States for our criminal system, and to support the countless men and women who serve our society with fairness and effectiveness as officers of the law.”

 

Statement on Deadly Attack in Dallas 


 

SAN DIEGO – The Most Rev. Robert McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, today issued the following statement concerning separate decisions by the US Supreme Court striking down legislation intended to regulate abortion in Texas, Mississippi and Wisconsin.

“A series of decisions by the Supreme Court this week striking down abortion statutes in Texas, Mississippi and Wisconsin is another sign of the failure of our national legal and political system to protect human life at its most vulnerable. It is also an ominous signal that even the most modest legal steps to protect the life of the unborn are likely to be blocked by a judicial philosophy and political culture which effectively annihilate the human identity of the unborn child while pretending to accord presumptive recognition to the stark reality which both morality and science attest – that a preborn child is indeed a human life.

“Let us pray and work together to create a society in which children in the womb might be accorded the most fundamental human right of life which is the heritage of us all.”


BISHOP'S STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT RULING 


 

Once again our nation has been murderously rent by hatred and violence, rooted in a counterfeit notion of religious faith and magnified by our gun culture.  The shootings in Orlando are a wound to our entire society, and this time the LGBT community has been specifically targeted and victimized.

It is all too easy when faced with such wanton slaughter and human suffering to reach for a solution which is itself founded in hatred, prejudice and recrimination.

But our Catholic faith demands that we reject such a pathway and embrace with ever greater strength the solidarity of all people who stand as the one family of the God who is Father of us all.

We pray for the many victims in Orlando who were targeted for death simply because of their sexual orientation, and we grieve with their loving families and friends.  This tragedy is a call for us as Catholics to combat ever more vigorously the anti-gay prejudice which exists in our Catholic community and in our country. We pray for the Muslim community in our nation, who have acted in unanimity to deplore this act of violence and to reject hatred rooted in a distortion of Muslim faith.  We pray for the first responders whose courage and suffering are a witness to the spirit of sacrifice that ennobles American society.   And we commit ourselves to a pathway which seeks true security for our nation not only in efforts to identify those who would do us harm, but far more importantly in building a culture which truly embodies and fortifies the equal dignity of every woman and man. ​


 

Letter to Priests  English   Spanish


 

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