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SAN DIEGO – San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy issued the following statement after the recent legislation in New York.

The abortion law recently passed in the state of New York constitutes a new and frightening chapter in our nation's searing ongoing debate about how to balance the God-given rights of unborn children with the legitimate effort to mitigate the suffering of pregnant women in very difficult circumstances. The exuberant celebrations that accompanied the signing of the New York legislation signified the radical nature of this turning point in American law and public policy, and the language surrounding those celebrations emphasized the three threats to the sacredness of human life that the New York statute embodies.

The first of three threats is direct: the individual lives that will be lost because in its concrete effects the new legislation more fully authorizes truly viable unborn children to be put to death. It is impossible to believe that our society has come to a point where states are willing to kill even those unborn children closest to the moment of their birth. In past decades, this horrific reality was consensually recognized to be inhuman and inhumane; the thought of killing such children was a source of repugnance, not celebration. Now we live in a time when the argument for the autonomy of the mother has even legitimated discussion about whether children immediately after birth have the right to life-sustaining measures.

This transformation points to the second dimension of the threat posed by the New York abortion law and its proponents: its assault upon the basic moral sensitivity of the American public. Pioneering psychological researcher James Rest established that the first stage of moral development rests upon moral sensitivity, the ability to recognize that a situation has an ethical dimension which affects multiple actors. Throughout the last five decades of intense debate about abortion in the United States, the broad American public has continuously recognized that the unborn child possesses an ethical identity with ethical claims. This basic insight of moral sensitivity arises from the public recognition that in abortion we are dealing with human life.

The New York legislation and its proponents have launched a frontal assault upon that fundamental premise. For the legal and ethical calculus which underlies this new legislation absolutely and forthrightly extinguishes the human and moral identity of the unborn child. The New York statute in its real world application approaches the question of late-term abortion not as a question of the competing moral claims of a mother and child, but simply the claim of the mother in isolation. The child has been eliminated, both conceptually and in fact. It is this de facto extinction of the moral claim of the unborn child that is the most damaging and chilling effect of this new legislation. For it seeks to be a prelude to a broad reimaging of the issue of abortion in the national consciousness in which the primary moral insight which the broad American public has always had about the humanity of the unborn child is simply swept away. It is hard to think of a more debilitating attack upon our nation's moral sensitivity.

The third threat to our national well-being posed by the New York statute is that this new law points toward an ever more radical legal split in our nation that will leave many states in total denial regarding the most basic protections for unborn children. This is the great problem with a state-based solution for our inability to dialogue meaningfully on a national level. The New York abortion law stands as a firebell in the night, calling for us to advocate on an urgent basis for federal legislative and judicial protections for unborn human life in the coming years so that our country does not become a house divided, state by state, on this most volatile issue of human life and human dignity.


Link to PDF version of this statement


SAN DIEGO – San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy issued the following statement after the Board of Supervisors voted to address the urgent need for a temporary shelter for families applying for asylum:

“On behalf of the Diocese of San Diego and Catholic Charities of San Diego, I want to express my thanks to the Board of Supervisors for their vote approving the use of the former family court building as a way station for families seeking asylum in the United States.

“All of these people have been processed by federal immigration authorities and are legally in the United States pending the outcome of their application for asylum.  They don’t need a permanent place to stay, just a safe place to rest and make arrangements to meet family or friends as they move on to their final destination.

"As people of faith, all of us are called to 'welcome the stranger.'  With their action, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has done just that.  Thank you for heeding that call.”


SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Catholic Diocese released the text of the letter sent by Jeff Saavedra, the principal of St. Rose of Lima School in Chula Vista, to its families on Oct. 31 after the parish received a death threat the previous day. 


Dear Families,

I am happy to inform you that I was notified by the parish office that the individual who made the threatening call was apprehended by the police and is in custody.

I thank God for the quick work Chula Vista police did in handling this situation and for the quick thinking the parish staff did to alert CVPD.

Due to the late notice of this news, and not to cause any further confusion, school will remain closed tomorrow and re-open on Friday, November 2.

Thank you for your prayers and support.


Jeff Saavedra




SAN DIEGO – The Most Rev. Robert W. McElroy released the following statement today condemning the murder of 11 people in an anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“The Catholic Community of San Diego stands in solidarity and love with the Jewish community of our nation.

“The shock and horror of the Pittsburgh shooting confront us with the reality that hatred and violence abound in the country that we all cherish.And the targets of that hatred and violence remind us of the virulence of anti-Semitism, an unforgivable sin against God for which our own Catholic Church bears grave historic responsibility.

“We pledge to keep the Jewish communities of Pittsburgh and of San Diego and Imperial counties in our prayers, and to redouble our efforts to fight the evil of anti-Semitism wherever it emerges.”


SAN DIEGO – San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy issued the following statement about the resignation of the pastoral associate of St. John the Evangelist parish in Hillcrest:

“There is nothing Christian or Catholic about the hateful and vile people whose persecution of Aaron Bianco drove him from his ministry and who continue to threaten him, his family and the staff and community at St. John the Evangelist parish.

“These reprehensible acts are utterly contrary to Catholic teaching and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The hatred that lies behind them constitutes a dark and vicious corner in the life of our Church that every member of the Catholic community must reject.

“I support and stand in solidarity with the staff and community of St. John’s parish at this pivotal moment.”


SAN DIEGO – Fr. Justin Langille, a priest of the San Diego diocese, has been removed from ministry and had his faculties revoked by Bishop Robert McElroy following a determination by the Diocesan Independent Review Board that Fr. Langille had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a female teen in an incident dating from the early-1990’s.   

Fr. Langille’s case was brought before the Independent Review Board as part of the process of reviewing files pertaining to the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the Diocese of San Diego. That effort was initiated two months ago, when Bp. McElroy asked the board to review allegations against current priests that had been evaluated before the diocese formed the board in 2004. 

“I felt strongly that even older, previously decided cases involving currently serving priests would benefit from being examined by the Independent Review Board,” said Bp. McElroy.  “The voice of the laity needs to be heard on these matters and the independent board, with members that include attorneys, criminal investigators, psychologists and a clergy abuse victim, provides the diocese with exceptionally valuable guidance and expertise.”

If the Independent Review Board reviews an allegation and determines that the accusation is not credible, the priest may be returned to ministry.  However, if the board advises the bishop that the accusation is credible, and the bishop accepts those findings, then under the zero-tolerance policies followed by the diocese, the priest will be suspended, his faculties will be removed, and he will no longer be allowed to publicly function as a priest in San Diego or any other Catholic diocese around the world. 

The case involving Fr. Langille was one of those cases.  The original allegation against Fr. Langille came to the diocese in the mid-1990’s for an alleged act of sexual abuse against a female teen that had taken place in the early 1990’s.  The case was examined in 1995 and again in 2002, but the diocese concluded at the time that the allegation could not be substantiated.

 In 2002, Fr. Langille was given and passed a polygraph test, which was a major determining factor at the time.

When the Review Board took up this case last month, it commissioned a new search for corroborating evidence by a professional investigator.  Significant new information emerged that substantially undermined the credibility of Fr. Langille in his denials. 

“The Independent Review Board subsequently concluded overwhelmingly that Fr. Langille had violated the standards of the Charter for the Protection of Young People in his actions, and for this reason I removed Fr. Langille from public ministry,” explained Bp. McElroy.

     Fr. Langille, 65, has not had a full-time assignment in the diocese since 2013, but he has assisted on weekends at St. Therese and Ascension parishes.  An announcement about Fr. Langille will be made in both parishes this weekend.  In addition, Fr. Langille’s name will be added to the list of credibly accused priests maintained by the diocese at

The diocese urges any victim of abuse by clergy to contact the Victim Assistance Office at 858-490-8353 to report such abuse and for support in healing.


A new executive director for Catholic Charities of San Diego will begin on Oct. 1, 2018. He is Appaswamy "Vino" Pajanor, a non-profit housing executive formerly with the Housing Opportunities Collaborative, an organization dedicated to promoting equal access to housing for all persons in the region, especially low-income and underprivileged individuals and families. 

In that role, Pajanor was also a community leader, serving on the board of the California Reinvestment Coalition, San Diego’s City-County Reinvestment Task Force and a volunteer at many other organizations, including the St. Vincent de Paul Legal Clinic.

A native of India, he received his undergraduate degree in Law from the University of Madras and his Master of Law Degree from the University of San Diego.  He also pursued advanced studies at Harvard University in Community Development.


In response to a letter published on Aug. 25 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Papal representative to the United States, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy has released the following statement:

“This is a moment when the bishops of our nation, in union with the Holy Father, should be focused solely on comprehensively revealing the truth about the patterns of the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy in our Church, so that deep reform can be enacted.

“Unfortunately, in recent weeks ideological warriors within the Church on both sides of the spectrum have utilized the tragedy of victims of abuse to promote their goals. The dedication to comprehensive truth has been subordinated to selective targeting of enemies and tendentious distortions of the truth.

“Archbishop Vigano’s statement constitutes just such a distortion. It is not an attempt to comprehensively convey the truth. In its ideologically-driven selection of bishops who are attacked, in its clear efforts to settle old personal scores, in its omission of any reference to Archbishop Vigano’s own massive personal participation in the covering up of sexual abuse by bishops, and most profoundly in its hatred for Pope Francis and all that he has taught, Archbishop Viganò consistently subordinates the pursuit of comprehensive truth to partisanship, division and distortion.

“We as bishops cannot allow the pathway of partisanship to divide us or to divert us from the searing mission that Christ calls us to at this moment. We must make public our sinful past. We must engage and help heal the survivors of abuse. We must develop new, lay-governed instruments of oversight and investigation in every element of how we confront sexual abuse by clergy at all levels in the life of the Church. And we must reject all attempts to subordinate these goals to ideological or personal projects. For if we do not, we will have betrayed the victims of abuse once again.”


En respuesta a la carta publicada el 25 de agosto por el Arzobispo Carlo Maria Viganò, ex representante papal en Estados Unidos, el Obispo de la Diócesis de San Diego Robert McElroy emitió esta declaración:

"Nos encontramos en un momento en que los obispos de nuestra nación, en unión con el Santo Padre, deberían estar enfocados únicamente en revelar de forma exhaustiva la verdad sobre los patrones de abuso sexual a menores y adultos vulnerables en nuestra Iglesia para poder implementar una profunda reforma.

"Lamentablemente, en las últimas semanas guerreros ideológicos dentro de la Iglesia en ambos lados del espectro han utilizado la tragedia de las víctimas de abuso para promover sus propias metas. La dedicación a la verdad absoluta se ha subordinado a la selección de enemigos y distorsiones tendenciosas de la verdad.

"La carta del Arzobispo Viganò constituye tal distorsión. No es un esfuerzo de completamente comunicar la verdad. En su selección ideológicamente impulsada de obispos atacados, en su claro esfuerzo de llevar a cabo un ajuste de cuentas, en su omisión de cualquier referencia a la propia participación personal masiva del Arzobispo Vigano en el encubrimiento del abuso sexual por obispos, y más profundamente en su odio por el Papa Francisco y todo lo que él ha enseñado, el Arzobispo Viganò consistentemente subordina la búsqueda de la verdad absoluta por el partidismo, y la división y distorsión.

"Nosotros como obispos no debemos permitir que el camino al partidismo nos divida o distraiga de la misión ardiente a la que Cristo nos llama en este momento. Debemos revelar públicamente nuestro pasado pecador. Debemos acercarnos a los sobrevivientes de abuso y ayudarlos a sanar. Debemos desarrollar nuevos instrumentos de vigilancia e investigación dirigidos por laicos en cada uno de los elementos que utilizamos para enfrentar el abuso sexual por el clero en todos los niveles de la vida de la Iglesia. Y debemos rechazar todo intento de subordinar estas metas por proyectos ideológicos o personales. Si no lo hacemos, habremos traicionado a las víctimas de abuso una vez más”.



(The following letter was distributed at this weekend's Masses. )

My brothers and sisters in Christ:

I am writing to the entire Catholic community of San Diego and Imperial Counties this week to speak about the unspeakable — the sexual abuse of minors by priests which was detailed in the report of the grand jury in Pennsylvania. The individual stories of abuse that robbed the souls and violated the bodies of so many innocent children and young people during the past seventy years are shattering. For me as a bishop there is an additional level of shame, because in many instances, this abuse was magnified by the leadership of the Church that placed fear of scandal and the culture of clericalism ahead of the protection of young people.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report demands action and also points the way toward reform in the life of our Church. That report reveals that the imposition of the zero tolerance policy in 2002 substantially worked. It ushered in a period in which sexual abuse of minors by priests fell dramatically through consistent reporting to civil authorities, the creation of lay boards to evaluate the truth of allegations, and the education of children about abuse.

The additional reforms that we must undertake at this moment must be based on the principles that produced positive change after 2002 — an unswerving focus on protecting minors and vulnerable adults and a binding voice for the laity in determining whether an allegation is true. Any genuine reform must forcefully integrate these principles in a framework of accountability that applies to bishops in their personal lives and administrative actions.

I have already begun a process of consultation with priestly and lay leadership in the diocese of San Diego focusing on the steps we need to take locally and nationally to accomplish genuine reform. During October and early November, I will hold eight listening sessions throughout the diocese. (See schedule below.) These meetings will focus on seeking input from people in the pews on the pathway to such reform, listening to those who have been victimized by clerical sexual abuse either directly or in their families, and praying for God's grace to be our only guide. I invite you to be part of this effort by your presence or your prayers.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy
Bishop of San Diego

Schedule of Listening Sessions

Oct. 1, Monday, 7 p.m., Our Mother of Confidence Parish, 3131 Governor Drive, San Diego, 92122

Oct. 3, Wednesday, 7 p.m., St. Joseph Cathedral, 1535 Third Ave., San Diego, 92101

Oct. 4, Thursday, 7 p.m., Our Lady of Grace Parish, 2766 Navajo Road, El Cajon, 92020, Parish Center

Oct. 5, Friday, 7 p.m., St. Charles Parish, 990 Saturn Blvd., San Diego, 92154

Oct. 6, Saturday, 9 a.m., St. Mary Parish, 795 La Brucherie Road, El Centro, 92243

Oct. 17, Wednesday, 7 p.m., Church of the Nativity, 6309 El Apajo Road, Rancho Santa Fe, 92067

Oct. 18, Thursday, 7 p.m., St. Gabriel Parish, 13734 Twin Peaks Road, Poway, 92064, Msgr. Charles Dollen Hall

Nov. 5, Monday, 10 a.m., USD-Joan B. Kroc Institute, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, 92110




(Esta carta se distribuyó a los fieles este fin de semana.)

Hermanos y hermanas en Cristo,

Esta semana, estoy escribiendo a la comunidad católica de los Condados de San Diego e Imperial para hablar de lo innombrable – el abuso sexual de menores por sacerdotes que fue revelado en el reporte del gran jurado en Pensilvania. Estos hechos que robaron el alma y violaron el cuerpo de tantos niños inocentes y jóvenes durante los últimos 70 años son devastadores. Yo, como obispo, siento más pena y responsabilidad porque en muchos casos los líderes de la Iglesia incrementaron el abuso al colocar el miedo al escándalo y una cultura clerical por encima de la protección de jóvenes.  

El reporte del gran jurado de Pensilvania exige acción y además apunta a una reforma en la vida de nuestra Iglesia. Ese reporte muestra que la aplicación de la política de cero tolerancia del 2002 funcionó. Marcó el inicio de un periodo en el cual el abuso sexual de menores por sacerdotes disminuyó drásticamente gracias a la consistente denuncia a las autoridades civiles, la creación de comités laicos para evaluar la verdad de los alegatos, y la educación a niños y familias sobre el abuso sexual.

Las reformas adicionales que debemos adoptar en este momento deben tener como fundamento los principios que produjeron el cambio positivo después del 2002 – un inquebrantable enfoque en la protección de menores y adultos vulnerables y una voz obligatoria de los laicos que determinen si una alegación es verdadera y qué castigo se debe aplicar. Cualquier reforma auténtica debe integrar contundentemente estos principios en un marco de responsabilidad que se aplica a la vida personal y a las acciones pastorales de los obispos.

Ya inicié un proceso de consulta con el liderazgo sacerdotal y laico en la diócesis de San Diego enfocada en los pasos que debemos tomar a nivel local y nacional para lograr una reforma real. Durante los meses de octubre y noviembre, llevaré a cabo ocho juntas a lo largo de la diócesis. (Vea fechas más abajo.) Estas juntas bilingües se enfocarán en recibir puntos de vista de los fieles sobre el camino a la reforma, escuchando a las víctimas de abuso sexual por el clero directamente o a sus familias, y orando para que la gracia de Dios sea nuestra única guía. Los invito a que se unan a este esfuerzo con su presencia u oración.

Sinceramente en Cristo,
Obispo Robert W. McElroy
Diócesis de San Diego


Programa de Juntas 

Oct. 1, Lunes, 7 p.m., Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Confianza, 3131 Governor Drive, San Diego, 92122

Oct. 3, Miércoles, 7 p.m., Catedral de San José, 1535 Third Ave., San Diego, 92101

Oct. 4, Jueves, 7 p.m., Parroquia Nuestra Señora de Gracia, 2766 Navajo Road, El Cajon, 92020, Parish Center

Oct. 5, Viernes, 7 p.m., Parroquia San Carlos, 990 Saturn Blvd., San Diego, 92154

Oct. 6, Sábado, 9 a.m., Parroquia Santa María, 795 La Brucherie Road, El Centro, 92243

Oct. 17, Miércoles, 7 p.m., Iglesia de la Natividad, 6309 El Apajo Road, Rancho Santa Fe, 92067

Oct. 18, Jueves, 7 p.m., Parroquia San Gabriel, 13734 Twin Peaks Road, Poway, 92064, Salón Mons. Charles Dollen

Nov. 5, Lunes, 10 a.m., USD-Instituto Joan B. Kroc, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, 92110




SAN DIEGO – Dr. Richard Sipe was a controversial but committed advocate on behalf of sex abuse victims and reform in the Catholic Church.  A psychoanalyst and a former priest, his research on the roots of sex abuse in the Church goes back more than 25 years and played an important role in shaping the national conversation and the Church’s response to the sex abuse scandal.

Dr. Sipe passed away last week at his home in La Jolla, CA.  He was 85.  Before his death, he met twice with Bishop McElroy to discuss the abuse crisis and the Church’s ongoing response.  Since those conversations have been referenced in news stories and on social media, Bishop McElroy wanted to make sure the nature and context of those conversations was properly understood.

Here is Bishop McElroy’s statement:

“Shortly after I was appointed Bishop of San Diego, back in early 2016, Dr. Richard Sipe requested that I meet with him to discuss the clergy abuse crisis.  We had two long, substantive, cordial and frank discussions about the history of clergy sexual abuse in the United States.  In those conversations, Dr. Sipe made allegations against several past and present bishops.  He stated that he was in conversation with colleagues and was going to approach the new nuncio, Archbishop Pierre, to discuss these issues and the broader questions involved.  

“I shared with Dr. Sipe my concern that some of his information might not be accurate.  In two instances we discussed, I had certain knowledge of individuals being investigated and cleared yet he still leveled accusations against them.  Dr. Sipe stated that he was making many of his allegations against existing bishops based on information that he had received from his work in legal cases on behalf of survivors of abuse.  I asked if he could share this information with me, especially since some of his accusations involved persons still active in the life of the Church and Dr. Sipe was making substantive allegations about their personal misconduct.  Dr. Sipe said that he was precluded from sharing specific documentary information that corroborated his claims.

 “Two weeks later, in July 2016, Dr. Sipe called and asked for a third meeting.  My assistant returned the call and said that I could not meet with him that month.  Dr. Sipe subsequently hired a process server to come to my office pretending to be a major donor who would hand his check only to me.  I was not in the office that day and the process server eventually turned the package over to my assistant.  It contained a letter to me (which has since been published).  After I read it, I wrote to Dr. Sipe and told him that his decision to engage a process server who operated under false pretenses, and his decision to copy his letter to me to a wide audience, made further conversations at a level of trust impossible.

“Dr. Sipe made many significant contributions to understanding the dimensions of clergy sexual abuse in the United States and to the assistance of victims.  But the limitations on his willingness to share corroborating information made it impossible to know what was real and what was rumor.  

“Nevertheless, Dr. Sipe fought for what he believed in and dedicated himself to the service of others.  May his soul and souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”


SAN DIEGO – After a 33-year career with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of San Diego (CCDSD), Dr. Robert Moser will be retiring as executive director, effective July 31.  Rodrigo “Rod” Valdivia will fill the position on an interim basis while the CCDSD Board conducts a search for Dr. Moser’s permanent replacement.

Valdivia currently serves as Vice Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of San Diego and is the senior lay executive at the diocese.

“Bob leaves behind a legacy for which any professional can be proud,” said Dr. Mary Lyons, chair of the CCDSD Board of Directors.  “His enduring commitment to the poor and vulnerable can be seen today among the thousands of former refugee and immigrant families that he helped settle and care for who now enjoy the safety and security of a home among us.”

Dr. Moser rose through the ranks at CCDSD, eventually becoming the deputy executive director and head of Immigrant Services before being named executive director last year.

“As executive director, Bob achieved one of the main things he set out to do, which was having the organization more strongly embrace its Catholic identity and integrate more fully into the life of the diocese and its parishes,” said Bishop Robert McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.  “I am deeply grateful for all that he was able to accomplish.

About Catholic Charities of San Diego

Catholic Charities of San Diego was started in 1919 to witness the scriptural values of mercy and justice and to advocate for the poor and vulnerable within the diocese.  For nearly 100 years, the organization has remained faithful to that original mandate, working with private donors, public agencies and myriad volunteers in San Diego and Imperial Counties to provide assistance to people and families of all faiths in their time of need.  With an annual budget of $16 million and more than 100,000 clients receiving assistance, Catholic Charities of San Diego is one of the largest social service agencies in California.


San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy delivered this keynote address at the annual assembly of the Association of  U.S. Catholic Priests on June 26, 2018, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


We are living in a wonderful moment in the life of the Church.

The authentic renewal of the Second Vatican Council remains the foundation and the challenge for those who seek to deepen the theology of the Church and bring it into the life of the world.

The call of Pope John Paul II for the Church to constantly witness to Christ and the challenge of Pope Benedict to confirm the truth in an age of relativism guide the Catholic community in its discernment and its action. The call of missionary discipleship frames the vocation for every Christian woman and man.   And the depth and the mystery of God’s continuing presence in all of the created order assures humanity that the final note of our existence is not pain, suffering and despair, but the fullness of joy and peace which lies in the love of a God who has brought to us every blessing that exists.

We are privileged to witness this moment in the Church’s life, and to recognize that it is a moment of explicit theological renewal that will contribute enormously to the spread of the Gospel in this new millennium. For we are seeing an emerging pastoral theology at the very heart of the life of the Church which both links us to the pastoral action and ethos of the Lord himself and yet is highly attuned to the challenges and cultures of the 21st century.  This pastoral theology calls for pastoral action to take its rightful place in framing the life and belief of the Universal Church, in concert with the traditional theological enterprises of dogma, scriptural studies, moral theology, ecclesiology, and liturgical and spiritual theology.

Indeed, the emergence of this pastoral theology in the present pontificate bears striking resemblance to the renewal of theology in the years preceding the Second Vatican Council. During the postwar period, the growth of scripture studies informed by the historical-critical method, the recovery of the historic liturgical life of the Church as a font for the deepening of contemporary sacramental celebrations, and the sustained reflection on the nature of the Church itself were part of a broad theological inquiry that allowed the bishops of the Council to reflect upon the challenges of the Church in the modern world armed with robust insights central to the proclamation of the Gospel in the 20th Century.

Similarly, the growth of a comprehensive pastoral theology that we are witnessing today echoes the flourishing of ecumenical and moral theology in the post-conciliar period, and the continuing expansion of the Church’s social doctrine formed within a truly global Church.  These were movements of intense theological richness for the Catholic community in the 20th Century, and continue to yield crucial insights about the fullness of the salvation that has been bestowed upon us by the Lord Jesus Christ.

But in a very real way, the pastoral moment that we are witnessing today in the life of the Church is different from any of these prior theological renewals, for each of them took place within a recognized field of specific theological reflection.  The challenge of pastoral theology is not only to delineate the substance of its insights into the Gospel and the life of the Church, but also the challenge to demonstrate that it is a significant branch of theology at all.

For most of the history of the Church, pastoral theology did not exist as a distinct branch of theology.  There were splendid pastoral teachings in the Catholic theological tradition in every age, of course, but these writings were not considered a distinct branch of theology.  It was in the period after the Reformation that a specific Catholic pastoral theology emerged as a major element of the reform of the priesthood and ecclesial life.   

But the nature of even this post-Reformation pastoral theology was very limited.  It was to a significant degree a derivative branch of theology, confined to the application of the fruits of the other branches of theology to the practice of the salvation of souls.  Moreover, pastoral theology was envisioned as primarily the work of priests.  It was also instrumental in nature.

In his teachings, Pope Francis points to an understanding of pastoral theology that is far more robust.  This pastoral outlook demands that all of the other branches of theology attend to the concrete reality of human life and human suffering in a much more substantial way in forming doctrine.  It states that the lived experience of human sinfulness and human conversion are vital to understanding the central attribute of God in relation to us, which is mercy.  It demands that moral theology proceed from the actual pastoral action of Jesus Christ, which does not first demand a change of life, but begins with an embrace of divine love, proceeds to the action of healing and only then requires a conversion of action in responsible conscience.  The pastoral theology of Pope Francis requires that the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church be formed in compassionate embrace with the often overwhelming life challenges that prevent men and women at periods of their life from conforming adequately with important Gospel challenges.  And the pastoral theology of Pope Francis rejects a notion of law that can be blind to the uniqueness of concrete human situations, human suffering and human limitation.  In these enormously important ways the vision of pastoral theology embraced by Pope Francis is a rejection of the tradition that sees pastoral theology as primarily derivative and the application of the other branches of theology.   Rather, the use of pastoral theology in the teachings of Pope Francis points to an interactive role between pastoral theology and the historic disciplines of the Catholic theological tradition.  In this way, pastoral realities are a significant font for theological reflection and development in all areas of our doctrinal life.

Just as importantly, the pastoral theology of Pope Francis rejects the traditional prism that focused pastoral theology on the work of priests, or even on a more generalized notion of pastoral ministry in the internal life of the Church.  In a very real way, the architects of pastoral theology in the writings of Pope Francis include the whole body of the faithful in relationship with God, and the datum of pastoral theology is the lived experience of the faithful in the concrete call of their discipleship.

There are three fundamental foundations for this pastoral theology.

The first foundation is the assertion that not only the activity, but the very nature of the Church involves at its heart pastoral action to heal the hearts of men and women who are suffering.  

Pope Francis outlined this ecclesiological assertion in his beautiful description of the Church itself as a field hospital: “I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity.  I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars.  You have to heal his wounds.  Then we can talk about everything else.  Heal the wounds.  And you have to start from the ground up.”

“This is the mission of the Church: the Church heals, it cures …. The mission of the Church is to heal wounds of the heart, to open doors, to free people, to say that God is good, God forgives all, God is the Father.”

One of the most beautiful elements of the Second Vatican Council was its magnificent theological images of the Church: the Church as the salvific sacrament of Christ’s unity and mission, the Church as the pilgrim people of God journeying together in this earthly life, the Church as the mystical body, with its complementarity among members and headship in Christ.  Each of these images conveys powerfully key elements of the sacred identity and ministry of the community which Jesus founded to sanctify the world.

So too the image of the Church as a field hospital stands as a powerful testimony to the nature and role of the community of faith in the world.  It speaks to the centrality of God’s action in the life of the Church, an action which begins as Jesus did, by healing women and men in their brokenness, thus opening them up to receiving the grace of God in their hearts even as that grace is made manifest.  The image of the Church as a field hospital points to the reality that the Church is never remote from the human experience, never self-referential if it is to be faithful to its mission.  Rather, the Church must always be enmeshed in the real lives and sufferings and challenges and joys of the people of God and the whole of humanity.

The image of the pilgrim people of God emphasized the common journey in grace of those in the Church.  The image of the Church as sacrament emphasized the nature of the Church as a reflection of the transforming power of God in the world.  The image of the mystical body emphasized the complementarity of all within the life of the Church, and the subjection of all to the person of Jesus Christ.  The image of the field hospital emphasizes the explicitly pastoral identity of the Church reaching into the lives of men and women precisely in their greatest suffering to reveal the multiple dimensions of the saving love that comes from God.  The image of the Church as a field hospital has none of the elegance or beauty of the image of the mystical body or Church as sacrament.  The image of the field hospital is earthy, rough-hewn, much like the stable in Bethlehem where our Lord revealed himself to the world.  Most importantly, the image of the Church as a field hospital testifies vividly to the pastoral dimension that lies at the heart of the Church’s identity and its mission in the world.

The second foundation for the pastoral theology that Pope Francis is pointing to lies in the recognition that the Church should mirror the pastoral action of the Lord himself.  It is the pattern of Jesus Christ who walked the earth which we are to incorporate into every element of ecclesial life.  This enduring truth is the foundation for a series of pastoral imperatives that Pope Francis has presented to the Church during the last five years.

One of the most important of these imperatives is the call to accompaniment.  In the “Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis beautifully expresses both the depth of commitment and the openness that must suffuse pastoral life and action in the Church:  “We will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this art of accompaniment which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other.”  When the Lord encountered Zacchaeus in the tree, he was encountering a man despised for his theft and victimization of others.  But Christ’s piercing compassionate embrace, conveyed in the call to eat at the house of this sinner, was sufficient to transform this hardened sinner.  In patterning the Church’s life after the ministry of Jesus Christ, the starting point is the drive to see and treat every human person as God sees them, an incredibly precious soul, individual in its nature and identity, yet equally treasured by the Lord.

A second pastoral imperative of the pastoral theology of Pope Francis urges us to model our pastoral action on the three steps that formed Jesus’ encounter with those who were suffering or estranged in the Gospel.  First, the Lord embraces the person, then he heals them. Then he calls them to reform. Each of these elements of the saving encounter with the Lord is essential.  But their order is also essential.  Christ first reveals the overwhelmingly merciful and limitless love of God.  Then he moves to heal the particular form of suffering that the person is experiencing.  And only then does he call the person specifically to a change in their life.

This pattern must become ever more deeply the model for the Church’s proclamation of the faith and healing action in the world.  This must be the Imitatio Christi for a pastoral Church in an age that rejects formalism, authority and tradition.  The call to change one’s life to conform more fully with the Gospel is essential to Christian conversion and the achievement of true happiness in this world and the next. But that call must be encased in the tender, healing face of a Church that ministers as Christ did, in order to take root in the present age.

As a consequence, the pastoral Church must be a non-judgmental Church.  There is no sin which Jesus mentions more frequently in the Gospels than the sin of judgmentalism.  For it is a sin so easy for all of us in our humanity to fall into.  It is a mystery of the human soul why men and women feel better about themselves when they can point to the faults of others.  It is a mystery, but also a reality, both for our humanity and the life of the Church.  Thus we must imitate Christ, who consistently spoke of the standards of the Gospel without compromise, but did not reject men and women for their inability to live the fullness of that Gospel.  We must banish judgmentalism from the life of the Church, and replace it with the constantly affirming love of Jesus Christ.  And in doing so, we will become the truly inclusive community that the Church, both by its charter and its intrinsic mission, was always called to be.

The final foundation for the pastoral theology that Pope Francis is delineating for the life of the Church is the assertion that the Church’s pastoral identity and action must be rooted in the life situations that men and women actually experience in the world today.  It is impossible to build up a pastoral Church without explicitly investigating the signs of the times and then integrating the results of that investigation into the very core of the Church’s mission today.  Thus it is essential that pastoral theology be explicitly and thoroughly inductive in its method.

The Church of Latin America has contributed enormously to this dimension of the Church’s life by its adoption of the see-judge-act methodology as a pathway for understanding every element of the life and work of the Church in the world. This method is rooted in the world as it is, rather than in the world as it is imagined to be.  The see-judge-act methodology begins theological reflection with the reality that confronts us, then ponders the implications of that reality for faith and the Gospel, and finally promotes action in concert with those implications.  As the final document of the Latin American bishops at Aparecida states, “This method enables us to combine successfully a faithful perspective for viewing reality, incorporating criteria from faith and reason for discerning and appraising it critically, and accordingly acting as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.”

It is this commitment to inductive method informed by faith and theological reflection that was at the heart of “Amoris Laetitia” and “Laudato Si.”  The lived reality of men and women and children and families was the starting point for the Church’s reflection on marriage and family life, not merely the application point for pre-made theological reflections.

Similarly, the degradation of the planet that undermines so many elements of human dignity and the future of the Earth itself, was the starting point for a Catholic theology of the environment, not merely an insertion point for the rich Catholic tradition on creation.  

It is through this inductive pathway that the whole of the Catholic community becomes in an active sense architects of pastoral theology.  For the sphere of pastoral theology is the very encounter of God with men and women in their ordinary lives, their dreams and hopes, their sufferings and wounds, their joys and accomplishments.  Pastoral theology seeks to recapitulate and replicate the saving encounter of Jesus Christ with the saint and the sinner that resides in every human soul, touching every dimension of human existence in the real world.

We are privileged to be living in the pastoral moment of the post-conciliar Church.  We are gifted with the image of the Church as a field hospital, focused precisely on the specific wounds that weigh down the men and women of our age, as well as ourselves.  We are called in our identity as priests of the Church and disciples of Jesus Christ to form an ecclesial community patterned on the pastoral action of our Lord and savior when he walked on our earth.  And we are called always, always to root our mission of healing and conversion in the lived experience of those whom we love as our sisters and brothers in Christ.

It is frequently said by those who have opposed elements of the pastoral mission of Pope Francis that doctrine cannot be superseded by the pastoral.  It is equally important to recognize that the pastoral cannot be eclipsed by doctrine.  For the pastoral ministry of Jesus Christ stands at the heart of any balanced understanding of the Church that we are called to be. And pastoral authenticity is as important as philosophical authenticity or authenticity in law in contouring the life of the Church to the charter that our Lord himself has given to us.


In response to announcements regarding deploying the U.S. National Guard to the U.S./Mexico Border, the U.S. Catholic Bishops of the U.S.-Mexico Border, including San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, issued the following statement: 


“We are deeply concerned by the announcement that the National Guard will be deployed on the U.S./Mexico Border. The continued militarization of the U.S./Mexico Border distorts the reality of life on the border; this is not a war zone but instead is comprised of many peaceful and law-abiding communities that are also generous in their response to human suffering.  

“We recognize the right of nations to control and secure their borders; we also recognize the need of nations to respect the rule of law. Current law in the United States rightly provides that those arriving to our country fleeing persecution are entitled to due-process as their claims are reviewed. Seeking refuge from persecution and violence in search of a peaceful life for oneself and one’s family is not a crime. Our faith calls us to respond with compassion to those who suffer, and to live in a spirit of solidarity with all human beings. 

“We remain hopeful that our local, state and federal officials will work collaboratively and prudently in the implementation of this deployment, ensuring that the presence of the National Guard is measured and not disruptive to community life. We are also deeply concerned that at this time divisive rhetoric often promotes the dehumanization of immigrants, as if all were threats and criminals. 

“We urge Catholics and people of good will to look past the dehumanizing rhetoric regarding immigrants and remember that they are a vulnerable population, our neighbors, and our sisters and brothers in Christ.”


En respuesta al anuncio sobre el despliegue de la Guardia Nacional de Estados Unidos a la frontera de EEUU/México, los obispos católicos que sirven a lo largo de la frontera emitieron la siguiente declaración:


“Estamos profundamente preocupados por el anuncio que la Guardia Nacional se enviará a la frontera de Estados Unidos-México. La constante militarización de la frontera Estados Unidos-México distorsiona la realidad de la frontera; esta no es una zona de guerra sino consta de muchas comunidades pacíficas que obedecen la ley además de ser generosas en su respuesta al sufrimiento humano.

“Nosotros reconocemos el derecho que países tienen para controlar y proteger sus fronteras; también reconocemos la necesidad de respetar la ley. La ley actual de Estados Unidos correctamente provee que aquellos que llegan a nuestro país huyendo de persecución tienen el derecho del debido proceso mientras sus peticiones son revisadas. El buscar refugio de la persecución y violencia en busca de una vida en paz para uno y la familia de uno no es un delito. Nuestra fe nos llama a responder con compasión a aquellos que sufren, y a vivir en el espíritu de solidaridad con todos los seres humanos.

“Mantenemos la esperanza que nuestros funcionarios locales, estatales y federales trabajen colaborativamente y prudentemente en la implementación de este despliegue, asegurando que la presencia de la Guardia Nacional sea moderada y no perjudique la vida comunitaria. También estamos profundamente preocupados que en estos tiempos la retórica divisoria frecuentemente promueve la deshumanización de los inmigrantes, como si todos fueran una amenaza y delincuentes.  

“Instamos a los católicos y a la gente de buena voluntad que vean más allá de la retórica deshumanizante sobre los inmigrantes y recuerden que son una población vulnerable, nuestros vecinos, y nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Cristo.”



(SAN DIEGO) – The Most Rev. Robert McElroy, Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego, released the following statement in reaction to President Donald Trump’s visit to San Diego to tour prototypes of the proposed new border wall:

“It is a sad day for our country when we trade the majestic, hope-filled symbolism of the Statue of Liberty for an ineffective and grotesque wall which both displays and inflames the ethnic and cultural divisions that have long been the underside of our national history. Our faith is in the God who is the Father of us all, and who urges us to see Jesus himself in the immigrants and refugees who seek safety and freedom.”


San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy delivered the following Homily at the ordination to transitional diaconate of Oscar Lopez and Antonio Morales on Dec. 9, 2017, at St. Mary parish, El Centro.


Antonio and Oscar, we gather today in this great Imperial Valley that so powerfully represents the bonds between Mexico and California that have consistently framed your lives and the life of our entire local Church in the Diocese of San Diego. The faith, devotion to family and sacrifice that lie at the very heart of the Mexican culture are a wonderful foundation for the diaconal service that you undertake this day, and they speak to the ministry that  ultimately lies before you in your priesthood.

As deacons of the Church, you will pour yourself out, preaching the  Gospel of Jesus  Christ  in  its  fullness, its vibrancy and its integrity.You will have a special obligation to serve the poor and the marginalized in the recognition that our Lord always found a special place in his heart and ministry for the men, women and children whom society has labeled outcasts. And you will begin to form within your lives the contours of the priestly service through which you will seek to transform hearts, and ennoble the world in which we live.

The first reading from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah reminds us today with a special poignancy that God has marked you both out from the first moments in your mother's womb for diaconal and priestly service. To you at this moment the Lord speaks with a palpable missionary focus, echoing the words he addressed to Jeremiah: “I place my words in your mouth.”

For the rest of your lives you will know the awesome challenge and privilege of speaking God's word to the Christian community, always seeking with humility, dedication and unwavering zeal to preach the Gospel of him who is our Lord, and to bring it to life in the souls of the women and men entrusted to your care. Treasure this gift of God's grace. See in it truly the action of the God who brought the whole of Creation into being. Know of the personal tenderness the Lord has for you as you approach this ministry of service and wonder. And see in all who have brought you to this moment of commitment the embrace of God who will accompany you in every moment of your lives in service to the Church.

As the letter of St. Paul underscores for us today, the awesome mission of proclaiming the word of God is entrusted to you precisely as earthen vessels, men who bear within yourselves failings and limitations that are both a spur to continuing humility in the ministry and a pathway through which your ministry in parish communities will be enhanced. For in the mutual recognition that each of us who seeks to be a disciple of Jesus Christ bears the scars of sinfulness and moral failings, we find the foundation for encountering the overwhelming mercy of  God.

Always be preeminently a minister of God's mercy, always reach out to the estranged, the despairing, the excluded, and bring to them the hope that lies in the God who in his earthly ministry embraced men and women precisely in their brokenness.

Oscar and Antonio, we surround the altar of the Eucharist in the same way in which Jesus and the apostles surrounded the table of the last supper, recognizing that a marvelous work of God is being accomplished in our midst.

Today's Gospel testifies to that reality. It speaks to the joy that the Lord has in your commitment to service in the Church for the whole of your lives. It points to the central role that sacrifice will play in your diaconal and priestly lives, recognizing both the personal cost of that sacrifice and the magnificent bounty that it can produce. And most importantly, the Gospel of John makes clear that for each of the Apostles -- and for you -- it is the Lord who has chosen you and brought you to this moment.

You have come here by different pathways, but you are now united in the same lifelong mission: go forth and bear fruit that will remain, fruit more precious than any earthly harvest in this valley of harvests, the fruit of God's love taking root in the human heart.


SAN DIEGO – Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy asked for prayers for the region’s residents affected by the Lilac Fire  in North County and first responders risking their lives:

 "Today, as Catholics attend Mass to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we must also keep in mind the thousands of our neighbors who have been evacuated and the hundreds of First Responders risking their life and safety to help them. All of us need to keep them in our prayers. May God protect them and give them comfort in these trying days."

 Meanwhile, the diocese closed five schools for the day as a response to the fire, either because they faced imminent threat or as a precaution.

The schools are St. Peter the Apostle School (Fallbrook), St. Francis of Assisi School (Vista), St. Mary School (Escondido), St. Mary, Star of the Sea School (Oceanside) and St. Patrick School (Carlsbad).


San Diego Catholic Diocese Auxiliary Bishop John Dolan delivered the following Homily during the Mass today at St. John the Evangelist parish to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the "Always Our Children" message from the U.S. Bishops:

Parents and family members of LGBT children – God’s children – and to all of you gathered today:

It is a joy to be with you this morning as we commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishop’s document, “Always Our Children.” This document was written then as “an outstretched hand of the bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family to parents and other family members” of LGBT children.

On this Day, we also celebrate the Catholic Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

 Here, we beg Mary, who is a mother and parent herself, to accompany with her prayers parents of children in the LGBT  community and all of us gathered here as we seek to find a welcoming place for all within the Body of Christ, the Church.

Now, as we prepare to celebrate this Eucharist, let us turn to Mary’s Son, Jesus our Savior and Advocate. As we do so, let us call to mind our sins and ask our Lord for pardon and peace.

Today we recall a document written by the U.S. Bishops and presented 20 years ago to the parents of LGBT children. “Always Our Children” was written at a time when good and faithful church-going Catholics were witnessing society quickly change before their eyes and the Church seemed – in their eyes – to stand still. At that time, some parents who were faced with their children “coming out,” courageously reached out to religious leaders – including Catholic priests – for guidance. Though courageous, the sense of guilt and shame – coupled with tears – was a part of their conversation.

Other parents preferred to not talk about it with their pastors, while others would even dismiss their children in order to avoid conflict with other members of their faith. In many of these encounters with pastors, parents were met with love and compassion as they discussed their children’s “new way of life,” while – sadly – others were met with words of condemnation; even if the hard words of their pastors were meant to express truths regarding their children.

Today, we also celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Admittedly, this Feast Day is very important to me and the Rosary itself is my favorite form of prayer. (It doesn’t look like it, but I walk nearly every day and pray two rosaries out and two rosaries back. This way, I can take care of both my physical and spiritual exercises at the same time. I recommend it. It’s good for the body and the soul.)

As we consider this Feast Day, I am reminded of St. Pope John Paul II’s Pastoral Letter in 2002 on the Holy Rosary. In his letter, Saint John Paul urged Catholics to see the rosary as “a treasure to be rediscovered” in our lives. He reminded us to approach the Rosary as a way of going to the “School of Mary” in order to discover the mysteries of Jesus her Son. By meditating on the five Joyful mysteries of Jesus’ birth and childhood, or the five Luminous mysteries of the Lord’s Ministry on earth, the five Sorrowful mysteries of Jesus’ passion and death, and finally the five Glorious mysteries of His resurrection and the bright promise that awaits us all, we were encouraged to assimilate the mysteries of Christ as we discovered the mystery of our own being.

As I re-read his pastoral letter on the Rosary, I was struck by these words: “The mysteries of Christ are also in some sense the mysteries of his Mother, even when they do not involve her directly, for she lives from him and through him.”

These words, in light of our purpose here today, are particularly helpful as I speak to you parents. They need repeating: “Even when they do not involve her directly,” the “mysteries of Christ are the mysteries of His mother.” This is made perfectly clear in the annunciation account found in our Gospel today. Here, the Son of God becomes the Son of Mary. The mysteries of Christ are now incarnate within the Mother of the Lord.

Later, we read that Mary pondered these things in her heart. What parent doesn’t ponder the mystery of their child within their heart? What parent is not indirectly involved in the mystery of his or her child?

Returning to my earlier comments on those courageous parents who reached out to their pastors or faith leaders 20 years ago, and those who continue to seek guidance today, it is obvious to me that the words pastors choose to use when speaking of God’s children have an effect on their parents as well; even if indirectly. Again, the mysteries of Christ found in each child are the mysteries found in their parents.

This is why, in part, the pastoral letter, “Always Our Children,” was written for parents. For example, the bishops went to great lengths to include in the letter the following words for parents whose children were dying during the height of the AIDS epidemic: “Though HIV/AIDS is an epidemic affecting the whole human race, not just homosexual persons, it has had a devastating effect upon them and has brought great sorrow to many parents, families, and friends.”

 And, while some faith leaders, politicians, and celebrities were linking God’s wrath to this terrible disease, the bishops stated emphatically, “We reject the idea that HIV/AIDS is a direct punishment from God.” In some way, I hope these words offered some comfort to parents of those with HIV or who died from AIDS at the time. This is just one of the reasons for the pastoral letter.

It is true that “Always Our Children” was not warmly received by many Catholics in the U.S. It was too left-leaning for some; even though the bishops then made it clear that the letter was not breaking any new ground on sexual morality, chastity, and mature sexual development according to Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

The document was also too right-leaning for others; especially as the language used in the document regarding homosexuality seemed stilted and even offensive to many in the gay community. However, recall that the letter was “an outstretched hand of the bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family to parents and other family members.”  And, for this reason alone, it was a start. It became an opening for more fruitful dialogue and civil discourse.

Twenty years later, the dialogue and discourse continues, but it isn’t always fruitful or civil. The unshaking ideologies of people from those without and within the LGBT community are daily blogged, tweeted, and Facebooked in ad hominem, yellow-journalistic, fake-news style where now the Mysteries of Christ and the Good News are lost and good people are directly or indirectly hurt. Such rhetoric has to stop! It is for this reason that, while the Church’s teachings and truths are still defined, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) wrote:

“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.” 

More recently, Fr. James Martin, SJ, shared the same challenge for members within the LGBT community. In his book, Building a Bridge, Fr. Martin laid out the number of times LGBT members had spewed violent malice in speech. He argued that taking such a hurtful road is only “a perpetuation of a cycle of hatred.” Fr. Martin offered the alternative road: “Being respectful of people with whom you disagree is at the heart of the Christian way.”

Ad hominem attacks and lies about those with whom we disagree must always be avoided. As our Catechism states, “If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.” Civil discourse and fruitful dialogue cannot be forfeited by those who uphold the teachings of the Church and/or by those who struggle to incorporate our teachings within their personal lives.

The opposite of uttering falsehoods and deplorable verbal attacks is the Gospel of Truth. The Truth that begins with the Joyful Mystery of the Angel who spoke unto Mary. This Truth, the Son of God, became incarnate and now became Mary’s Son.

We read later that Mary pondered all of these things – the mysteries of Her Son – in her heart. And, like a good parent, she pondered these things as she accompanied her Son throughout his life; from the Joyful events of his childhood, throughout his mission to the sick, the sinners, and ultimately to the cross at Calvary. But, as we hear Jesus on the cross give Mary to the Beloved Disciple - the Church – we see that Mary accompanies us all. She stands by us all.

This is why, in our First Reading, we see Mary in the Upper Room with the apostles. And when the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, rushed upon Mary, he rushed upon her sons. Although many of these sons previously ran from the Lord and even denied Him, they were still her sons. Indeed, we will always be her sons and daughters, as well as brothers and sisters, of the Lord.  There is no denying this.

And, to you parents, there is no denying your own sons and daughters, whatever their walk in life. You, like Mary, stand in the middle of your own domestic church and within the wider Church. This is your vocation. And for this, I thank you.

Like Mary, we stand with all members of the Church. With those who live in the heart of Christ, or in his bosom, and even in the peripheries. It is for this reason, the U.S. bishops 20 years ago, offered these final words in their pastoral letter, directing them specifically to our children:

“This message has been an outstretched hand to your parents and families inviting them to accept God's grace present in their lives now and to trust in the unfailing mercy of Jesus our Lord. Now we stretch out our hands and invite you to do the same. We are called to become one body, one spirit in Christ. We need one another if we are to  . . . grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love" (Eph 4:15-16).

Though at times you may feel discouraged, hurt, or angry, do not walk away from your families, from the Christian community, from all those who love you. In you God's love is revealed. You are always our children."


My brothers and sisters, these words offered by the U.S. bishops 20 years ago are my sentiments exactly. Be assured of my prayers for you. The Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries of Christ abide in you. With Mary, with all the Saints, with Pope Francis, Bishop McElroy, our priests, your parents and families, and all who love you, we will accompany you. And as we do, we will ponder the mysteries of Christ within you.


The Most Rev. Robert McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, today issued the following statement concerning the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed at least 59 people and left more than 500 injured:

"The entire Catholic community of San Diego and Imperial Counties joins in deep prayer and solidarity with the victims of the shootings in Las Vegas and their families. This is another moment in our nation when we are stunned and silenced by the suffering that hate and violence can produce in our world.

"We pray for the peaceful repose of those who have been killed, the healing of those who are injured, and the consolation of their loved ones in the grace of Jesus Christ, who Himself endured physical, spiritual and emotional suffering on the Cross for us all.

"Let us be one in our solidarity, one in our hope amidst anguish, and one in building up peace in this country that we love so deeply."


The Most Rev. Robert McElroy, Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego, released the following statement in reaction to the announcement today in Washington that the Trump Administration is closing down the DACA (Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals) Program. DACA temporarily suspended deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as minors and raised in the United States, with little or no contact with their family’s home country. An estimated 800,000 people will be affected by this decision:


“Today the hope that our national policies will retain any shred of humanity in their treatment of undocumented immigrants has been extinguished.  The Trump Administration's decision to initiate the process of eradicating the rights of hundreds of thousands of young men and women to legally live and work and contribute in American society not only robs them of their security in remaining in the only homeland that many of them have ever known; it also robs our nation of some of the finest young people who seek to build up our country for the next generation. 

“Tonight across this great land, untold families will be weeping at such harshness.  Our Lord, who was both refugee and immigrant during his journey on this earth, will weep with them.  And the Church will stand in steadfast solidarity and action with them, no matter what is coming.  The Catholic community has encountered too many waves of nativism in the history of our country not to know that such prejudice and divisiveness must be resisted at its root.”


Mons. Robert McElroy, Obispo Católico de San Diego, emitió la siguiente declaración hoy tras el anuncio de la eliminación gradual del programa DACA (Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia) en Washington por el Gobierno del presidente Trump. Este programa suspendió temporalmente la deportación de inmigrantes que fueron traídos a este país cuando eran menores. Alrededor de 800,000 personas serán afectadas por esta decisión:

“Hoy, la esperanza que nuestras políticas nacionales conservaran un poquito de humanidad en el trato de los inmigrantes indocumentados ha sido extinguida. La decisión del Gobierno del presidente Trump de erradicar el derecho de cientos de miles de jóvenes, hombres y mujeres, de vivir y trabajar de manera legal y contribuir a la sociedad estadounidense no solamente les roba la seguridad de permanecer en la única patria que la mayoría de ellos han conocido; sino que también le roba a nuestro país algunos de los mejores jóvenes que buscan solamente construir nuestra nación para la próxima generación.

“Hoy, un sin número de familias estará lamentando tal dureza. Nuestro Señor, quien fue refugiado e inmigrante durante su camino por la tierra, llorará con ellos. Y la Iglesia se mantendrá firme en solidaridad y acción con ellos, sin importar lo que venga. A lo largo de la historia de los Estados Unidos, la comunidad católica ha enfrentado demasiadas olas de nativismo para saber qué tal prejuicio y conflicto debe ser resistido desde su raíz”.


The terrible suffering of the people of Texas and Louisiana this past week has been wrenching for the entire nation, as we have witnessed untold moments of devastation, heroism, desperation and sacrifice.For us as followers of Jesus Christ, our response must be two-fold: prayer and action.

We join in President Trump's heartfelt call for a National Day of Prayer this Sunday and will provide a fitting time of focus in all of the Masses in the Diocese of San Diego to pray for all of the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

We will also be taking up an emergency special collection this month for the provision of aid through Catholic Charities USA  and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops for disaster relief.

Finally we will continue to stand in solidarity with all Americans as we resolve to support in every possible manner the reconstruction effort that will be needed to restore Texas and Louisiana, knowing poignantly that many of the most important losses of these past days can never be restored.

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El profundo sufrimiento de la gente de Texas y Louisiana en estos últimos días ha sido desgarrador para el país entero al presenciar momentos de devastación, desesperación, heroísmo y sacrificio. Nuestra respuesta como seguidores de Jesucristo, debe tener doble intención: oración y acción.

Nos unimos al llamado sincero del presidente Trump de llevar a cabo el  Día Nacional de Oración este domingo y dedicaremos tiempo en todas las Misas de la Diócesis de San Diego para orar por las víctimas del Huracán Harvey.

También llevaremos a cabo una colecta especial este mes para proveerles ayuda a través de Caridades Católicas USA y el programa de asistencia de desastres de la Conferencia de Obispos de Estados Unidos.

Finalmente, continuaremos en solidaridad con todo el país para apoyar de cualquiera manera posible a la reconstrucción de Texas y Louisiana, sabiendo de antemano que muchas de las pérdidas más importantes de estos últimos días nunca se podrán recuperar.

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Homily for the Vigil of Archbishop John Quinn
July 9, 2017
Bishop Robert W McElroy

For two generations of priests, religious, lay leaders and deacons in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and across the United States, a retreat led by Archbishop John Quinn on the theme of discipleship and baptismal vocation would always end with the reading we have just heard from the 21st chapter of the Gospel of John.  For in its three central movements, the Johanine account of the encounter of the risen Christ with the Apostles by the seashore points to the essential relationship of Christian discipleship, the experience of the Resurrection, and the meaning of Eucharist.

     The first of these movements is the call of the disciples to a renewed missionary commitment to the person and the work of Jesus Christ.  The return of Peter and the Apostles to the act of fishing symbolizes the moment after the death of Jesus when the twelve felt abandoned by God and returned to their former way of life.  The call of Jesus from the seashore, the grace of the miraculous catch, and the heartfelt act of Peter diving into the sea symbolize the recommitment of the disciples to a life of mission which is reconstituted by and centered in the grace of the Resurrection.

     The second movement of tonight’s Gospel is the disciples’ gradual understanding of the Resurrection experience itself.  At first, the figure on the shore appears to be a stranger, radically different from the man Jesus whom they had accompanied every day for almost three years.  But then they comprehend it is the Lord.   The risen Jesus is both earthly and ethereal: He is translucent and yet eats with them. He prepares their meal.  Raymond Brown points to these dual realities of continuity and transformation as the essential elements of Christ’s Resurrection and of our own. In the fullness of the kingdom our identities will survive, yet we will be radically altered. The experience on the seashore conveys to the disciples that both their own life in eternity and their new life of discipleship and ministry must be radically interwoven with the experiences of continuity and transformation.

     Finally, the meal on the seashore points to the Eucharistic meal that embodies the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And it does so precisely as an act of continuous thanksgiving.  Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus at the moment of the breaking of the bread, when Jesus instructs the Apostles on the seashore “come and eat your breakfast,” they recognize clearly the presence of Jesus risen from the dead, Jesus who is their teacher, companion and friend.  And in that recognition they are overwhelmed with gratitude to God.

     In a very real way, these three themes of the Johanine encounter by the seashore -- the continuing call to discipleship and priesthood, the experience of continuity and transformation, and unceasing gratitude to God – formed the life of John Raphael Quinn at its core and are the surest comfort and consolation for us at this hour of his death.

     Priesthood, and the call to priesthood, lay at the very center of John’s earthly mission.  Every day he was profoundly grateful for the grace of his priesthood.  And as seminary professor, rector, bishop and spiritual director, Archbishop Quinn echoed the voice of the risen Jesus calling to the disciples from the shore.  At times this voice was one of exhortation and inspiration encouraging men to explore a vocation to the priesthood.  At other times, it was a voice of consolation and solace, reaching out to priests who had lost their way or were experiencing suffering which was overwhelming.  He understood both the heroic striving and the great vulnerabilities of the human heart and spirit, and he understood how both that heroism and those vulnerabilities could be magnified in the priestly life. When he came to San Francisco, the Archbishop told the gathered priests:  Everyone is this diocese has a pastor except you.  It is my hope that in some real measure I can be pastor to you.  And over the following 40 years, he became such a pastor, mentor, spiritual advisor and friend to so many of us who had been his priests and to a multitude of bishops across the country.

    Continuity and transformation – the contours of the resurrection we await in the next world and the contours of all discipleship which is lived faithfully and effectively on Earth.  Two days before he was stricken in Rome, I had a long conversation with Archbishop Quinn.  It was a poignant moment for the Archbishop:  participating in the consistory for his close friend, Cardinal Cupich, speaking with the Holy Father with whom he shared so many commitments regarding the life of the Church and the world, returning to the North American College which had played such a pivotal role in his formation.  That morning he had visited the room which he occupied as a young seminarian more than 60 years before.  The archbishop told me that this trip had been a time of recapitulation for him, embracing both the earliest foundations of his life and priesthood and the elements of growth and evolution which had emerged in his priestly life in a manner which he could never have dreamed of on the day of his ordination.

     John Quinn was unceasingly a man who combined continuity and transformation, and in that identity lays his greatness as a leader in the Church in the United States. 

     It was this dual commitment which led him to find in the death and funeral of Óscar Romero a shattering call to prophetic leadership in pursuit of justice for the poor and the oppressed in Central America and the United States.  It was John’s ability to grow and to risk which led him to challenge the morality of nuclear deterrence in the 1980s and to begin the first major diocesan outreach to victims of AIDS when fear and prejudice against this terrible scourge were at their height.  It was the ability to grow and change in deepest fidelity to the Gospel and the tradition of the Church which led Archbishop Quinn to find in his role as pontifical delegate for religious life both an opportunity to create new pathways for collaboration between bishops and women religious, and a new birth in his own life of effective mutual relationships with women. Finally, it was in his comprehension of both continuity and doctrinal development in the life of the Second Vatican Council and the writings of Cardinal Newman that John Quinn found the inspiration for his witness to synodality in Church structures, his call for an expansion of the role of the laity in Church governance, and the need for a re-articulation of Catholic teaching on responsible parenthood.

     Continuity and change.  It is the theme of our risen life in the Lord.  It is the theme of any life of discipleship which never ceases to listen attentively to the voice of the glorified Lord calling to us from the seashore.  It was a theme which animated and formed the discipleship of John Quinn every day that he lived on this Earth.

     The final great moment of the encounter of the disciples with the risen Christ at the seashore is the Eucharistic moment.  It symbolizes the glory which John now enjoys in the kingdom of God.  It symbolizes the unity of the Church rooted in baptism which John Quinn always considered the most important grace that he had received in the whole of his life.  It symbolizes the spirit of profound gratitude to God which continually characterized John’s appreciation for the gifts of his family, his vocation, his education, his friendships, and yes even these past five months of illness which were for him a genuine opportunity to bind himself more faithfully to the suffering of Jesus Christ, who had died on his behalf.

     It had been apparent for most of those past five months that Jesus was likely preparing the heavenly meal for Archbishop John Quinn, even to those of us who were desperately hoping that the Lord would bid John once more to take up his nets and launch back onto the sea in service to the Church. Now, John Quinn is embraced by his Lord and Savior. The Lord bids him “come and eat your breakfast.”  And John knows that he is truly home.


SAN DIEGO – The Vatican Press Office today announced that His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Fr. John P. Dolan, the current pastor of St. John the Evangelist parish in Hillcrest, as auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of San Diego. He will take up his duties June 8, following his episcopal ordination at St. Therese of Carmel in Del Mar.

Bishop Robert McElroy noted two central characteristics of Father Dolan's priesthood: the great love which he has for the priests and the people of God, and the intensely joyful spirit that permeates his life and mission.

"Our local church," Bishop McElroy said, "will be deeply blessed by these gifts in Bishop-Elect Dolan's new episcopal role of leadership, sacrifice and prayerful service."

McElroy’s comments came this morning during Bishop-Elect Dolan’s introduction to staff and family at the diocesan Pastoral Center.

As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop-Elect Dolan will assist Bishop McElroy in the operation and management of the diocese and in the performance of sacramental duties, such as confirmations. Bishop McElroy remains in charge of the diocese.

Bishop-Elect Dolan begins his new duties at a time when the Diocese is implementing innovative initiatives to strengthen local Catholic families and their communities. One of these grew out of a historic synod held last fall to develop ways to strengthen marriage and families and to welcome and support youth and young adults. Another offers leadership development opportunities for local Catholic school administrators, in partnership with the University of San Diego. And still another is providing vital resources to immigrants and refugees in light of changes at the federal level.

Dolan, 54, grew up in the Clairemont neighborhood of San Diego, and was ordained to the priesthood on July 1, 1989 by Bishop Leo T. Maher at San Rafael Parish in Rancho Bernardo. He is a near-fluent Spanish speaker. One of nine children born to Gerald and Catherine Dolan, he was educated in local Catholic schools at St. Mary Magdalene Parish and University High School, before attending St. Francis Seminary and the University of San Diego, where he received a B.A. in Philosophy. He continued his studies at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, CA, where he earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree, along with a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Theology.

“I am profoundly grateful to his Holiness Pope Francis for this honor,” said Bishop-Elect Dolan. “I look forward to accompanying Bishop McElroy in his ministry to this beautiful diocese in which I have witnessed the presence of God's love continually for the whole of my life.”

Dolan has served as a priest in the Diocese of San Diego for 27 years. He began as an associate at St. Michael’s Parish in Paradise Hills before going on to Santa Sophia Parish in Spring Valley. He served 12 years as pastor at St. Rose of Lima in Chula Vista and 5 years as pastor at St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Oceanside.

Most recently, he has served as Vicar for Clergy at the Pastoral Center, where he oversees the assignment of priests and clergy at the 98 parishes in the diocese and as Pastor at St. John the Evangelist and St. Vincent De Paul in Mission Hills/Hillcrest. He will continue in those roles.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego ( runs the length of California’s border with Mexico and serves more than 1.3 million Catholics in San Diego and Imperial Counties. It includes 98 parishes, 49 elementary and secondary schools, and, through Catholic Charities of the Diocese of San Diego (, various social service and family support organizations throughout the region. It also includes five historic sites, the most well known of which is the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, the first mission established in California by St. Junipero Serra in 1769.

A photo of Bishop-Elect Dolan is available on request.



From the Office of the Bishop

The joy of the Easter season is amplified for the diocese of San Diego today in Pope Francis' appointment of Father John Dolan as our new auxiliary bishop. Father Dolan was raised in Saint Mary Magdalene Parish and ordained for the diocese of San Diego in 1989 after studying theology at Saint Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California. The whole of his priestly ministry has been focused upon the life of the parish, and he has been pastor at Saint Mary Star of the Sea in Oceanside, Saint Michael Parish in San Diego, Saint Rose of Lima in Chula Vista, Saint Michael in Poway and Saint John and Saint Vincent Parishes in San Diego. He presently serves as the vicar for Clergy in the Diocese.

Bishop Robert McElroy noted two central characteristics of Father Dolan's priesthood: the great love which he has for the priests and the people of God, and the intensely joyful spirit that permeates his life and mission. "Our local church" Bishop McElroy said, "will be deeply blessed by these gifts in Bishop-elect Dolan's new episcopal role of leadership, sacrifice and prayerful service."

When told of his appointment, Bishop-elect Dolan said "I am profoundly grateful to his Holiness Pope Francis for this honor, and I look forward to accompanying Bishop McElroy in his ministry to this beautiful diocese in which I have witnessed the presence of God's love continually for the whole of my life."

The episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Dolan will take place on Thursday, June 8, at 2:00 p.m. at Saint Therese of Carmel Church in Del Mar.



SAN DIEGO, March 5, 2017 – Nearly 1,000 adults and children proclaimed themselves ready to profess their Catholic faith in a joyous Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion celebrated by Bishop Robert McElroy.

The annual Rite of Election is celebrated by the Catholic Church on the first Sunday of the Lenten season worldwide. A total of 69 parishes in the San Diego Diocese participated in the ceremony, as well as the Catholic communities at the University of San Diego, San Diego State University, UC San Diego and Camp Pendleton.

The Bishop welcomed 287 adult and 46 children Catechumens who will be ready to receive their Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) at Easter. In addition, 632 adults and three children Candidates, who already had been baptized, will now be able to complete their Sacraments of Initiation. 

The 968 Catechumens and Candidates reflected the diocese’s multicultural congregations in San Diego and Imperial Counties. They were joined by 913 sponsors, 299 parish teams and around 1,130 guests. In all, more than 3,300 people jammed Golden Hall for the vibrant ceremony, delivered in English and Spanish.
Each parish group witnessed the Bishop signing their Book of the Elect confirming the readiness of their Catechumens and Candidates to join the Church, then took photos with him. The groups included pastors, sponsors and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) teams, with some numbering more than 100 people. 

The ceremony was organized by the diocesan Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry. Bilingual information on the Office’s programs is available at (858) 490-8232.


Bishop McElroy at the Rite of Election on 3/5/2017



MODESTO,  Calif., Feb. 18, 2017 – El reverendo Robert W. McElroy, jefe de la Diócesis Católica de San Diego, dio el siguiente discurso en el Encuentro Mundial Regional de Movimientos Populares de los Estados Unidos durante un panel sobre las barreras que las personas marginadas enfrentan en la vivienda y el trabajo.

Durante el siglo pasado, desde los movimientos obreros de la acción católica en Francia, Bélgica e Italia hasta el llamado del Papa Juan XXIII a reestructurar las economías del mundo en "Mater et Magistra", y el penetrante mensaje misionero de la Iglesia latinoamericana, las palabras "ver", "juzgar" y "actuar" han proporcionado un camino poderoso para aquellos que buscan renovar el orden temporal, a la luz del Evangelio y la justicia.

Como señaló el Consejo Pontificio para la Justicia y la Paz, el camino consiste en "ver claramente la situación, juzgar con principios que promuevan el desarrollo integral de las personas y actuar de una manera que implemente estos principios a la luz de la situación única de cada uno".

No hay mayor constitución para esta reunión que se lleva a cabo aquí en Modesto en estos días que la arquitectura simple pero rica de estas tres palabras: "ver", "juzgar" y "actuar". Sin embargo, estas palabras - que llevan consigo una poderosa historia de transformación social en el mundo en servicio a la dignidad de la persona humana- debe ser renovada y reexaminada en cada época y vista en el contexto de las fuerzas sociales, económicas y políticas en cada momento histórico.

En los Estados Unidos estamos en un momento crucial como pueblo y como nación, en la que las amargas divisiones rajan a nuestro país y contaminan nuestro diálogo nacional.

En nuestras reflexiones en estos días debemos identificar las formas en que nuestra propia capacidad de ver, juzgar y actuar en nombre de la justicia está siendo puesta en peligro por las corrientes culturales que nos dejan aislados, amargados y enojados. Debemos abordar las cuestiones del empleo, la vivienda, la migración, las disparidades económicas y el medio ambiente, como fundamentos de esfuerzos comunes más que de la división. Debemos ver palabras proféticas y acciones proféticas que producen unidad y cohesión y debemos hacerlo en el espíritu de esperanza que es realista. Porque como dijo el Papa Francisco al Encuentro en Bolivia: "Sois sembradores del cambio", y los sembradores nunca pierden la esperanza.

Primero, “ver claramente la situación”. Uno de los elementos más llamativos de "Laudato Si" es su análisis claro y audaz de las realidades empíricas que amenazan a la Tierra, que es nuestro hogar común. "Ver claramente la situación" es el fundamento de toda esa encíclica. Es el punto de partida para la justicia transformadora. El Papa Francisco no temía aventurarse en este polémico conjunto de preguntas sobre el cambio climático y el medio ambiente, a pesar de que fuerzas sociales y económicas masivas, especialmente dentro de nuestro propio país, han conspirado para ocultar las realidades científicas del cambio climático y la degradación ambiental. De la misma manera que las tabacaleras escondieron durante décadas la ciencia médica referente al tabaquismo.

Como agentes de cambio y justicia, hay una lección para nosotros aquí. Nunca tengan miedo de decir la verdad. Siempre encuentren su fundamento para la reflexión y la acción en la plenitud de la realidad empírica. Diseñen estrategias para el cambio en una difusión cada vez más completa de las verdades, incluso cuando parezcan inconvenientes para la causa.

Este es un anclaje especialmente importante para nosotros, en una época en la que la verdad misma está bajo ataque.

El Papa Benedicto XVI lamentó la disminución de la atención a la importancia de la verdad objetiva en la vida pública y su discurso. Ahora llegamos a un momento en que los hechos alternos compiten con hechos reales, e industrias enteras han surgido para moldear la opinión pública en patrones destructivamente aislados y deshonestos. El dicho "ver claramente la situación" rara vez ha sido más difícil en nuestra sociedad en los Estados Unidos.

Sin embargo, las mismas realidades que los oradores de esta mañana han señalado para captar la profundidad de la marginación en la vivienda, el trabajo y la igualdad económica en los Estados Unidos nos dirigen hacia la clarificación y la humanización de la verdad, lo que conduce a una comprensión más profunda de las realidades de injusticia y marginación que enfrenta nuestra nación.

Como subrayó el Papa Francisco en sus palabras a los Movimientos Populares en Bolivia, "Cuando vemos a los ojos del sufrimiento, cuando vemos las caras del campesino en peligro de extinción, el pobre trabajador, el indígena oprimido, la familia sin hogar, el migrante perseguido, el joven desempleado y el niño explotado, hemos visto y oído no una estadística fría, sino el dolor de una humanidad sufriente, nuestro propio dolor, nuestra propia carne ".

Uno de los elementos más importantes de su trabajo como agentes de justicia en nuestro medio en este país hoy en día es ayudar a nuestra sociedad a estar más en sintonía con esta realidad de la verdad humanizada, a través de la narrativa y el testimonio, la escucha y la solidaridad. De esta manera, usted no sólo es testigo de la verdad a través de las vidas y experiencias de los marginados, sino que además nos ayuda a ver las realidades más poderosas de nuestro mundo con mayor profundidad.

Esas realidades abarcan tanto descubrimientos científicos como historias de tragedia, análisis económico y las lágrimas del corazón humano. "Ver claramente la situación" no es sólo un paso en su trabajo en nombre de la justicia, sino que da forma a todo lo que hace para transformar nuestro mundo.

En segundo lugar, "juzgar con principios para fomentar el desarrollo integral". La cuestión política fundamental de nuestra época es si nuestras estructuras y sistemas económicos en Estados Unidos gozarán de una libertad cada vez mayor o si se ubicarán efectivamente dentro de una estructura jurídica que busque salvaguardar la dignidad de la persona humana y el bien común de nuestra nación.

En esa batalla, la tradición de la enseñanza social católica está inequívocamente del lado de las fuertes protecciones gubernamentales y sociales para los impotentes, los trabajadores, los desamparados, los hambrientos, los que carecen de atención médica decente y los desempleados. Esta postura de la enseñanza de la Iglesia emana de la enseñanza del Libro del Génesis: La creación es el don de Dios a toda la humanidad. Así, de la manera más fundamental, hay un destino universal para todos los bienes materiales que existen en este mundo. La riqueza es una herencia común, no en su núcleo un derecho de linaje o adquisición.

Por esta razón, los mercados libres no constituyen un primer principio de justicia económica. Su valor moral es fundamental en la naturaleza y debe ser estructurado por el gobierno para lograr el bien común.

Los mismos derechos que se niegan en nuestra sociedad a un gran número de los que viven en nuestra nación son derechos humanos intrínsecos en la enseñanza católica: el derecho a la atención médica, una vivienda decente, a la protección de la vida humana, desde la concepción hasta la muerte natural; el derecho a la alimentación, el derecho al trabajo. La enseñanza católica ve estos derechos no meramente como puntos de negociación, que se deben proveer solamente si existe un exceso en la sociedad después de que el funcionamiento del sistema de libre mercado lograra su distribución de la riqueza de la nación. Más bien, estos derechos son reivindicaciones básicas que todo hombre, mujer y familia tiene sobre nuestra nación.

Estos son los principios fundamentales que la Iglesia señala como base para juzgar todo programa político y social que estructura la vida económica dentro de los Estados Unidos. Y se complementan en la enseñanza católica por una grave sospecha sobre los enormes niveles de desigualdad económica en la sociedad. El Papa Francisco dejó en claro la profundidad de esta sospecha hace dos años. "La desigualdad", dijo, "es la raíz del mal social".

En su encíclica "La Alegría del Evangelio", el Papa Francisco señaló la desigualdad como la principal causa de un proceso de exclusión que corta a inmensos sectores de la sociedad de una participación significativa en la vida social, política y económica, como todos hemos escuchado esta mañana. En cambio, da lugar a un sistema financiero que gobierna a la humanidad y un capitalismo que literalmente mata a aquellos que no tienen utilidad como consumidores.

Cuando cito al Papa y digo que "esta economía mata", a menudo la gente me dice “vamos, eso es una exageración; es solo una forma de hablar".

Quiero hacer un experimento con usted. Quiero que se sienta en su silla por un momento. Cierre los ojos, y quiero que piense en alguien que ha sabido que nuestra economía ha matado: un anciano que no pudo pagar la medicina o la renta; una madre o un padre que está muriendo, que trabaja dos y tres trabajos, y están verdaderamente muriendo porque ni siquiera ellos pueden proveer para sus hijos; jóvenes que no pueden encontrar su camino en el mundo en el que no hay trabajo para ellos, y recurren a las drogas, las pandillas y el suicidio. Piense en una persona que usted sabe que esta economía ha matado.

Ahora lloren.

Y ahora digan su nombre; que todo el mundo sepa que esta economía mata.

Para la enseñanza social católica, el camino más seguro hacia la justicia económica es la provisión de trabajo significativo y sostenible para todos los hombres y mujeres capaces de trabajar. El "Compendio de la Doctrina Social de la Iglesia" afirma: "Los desequilibrios económicos y sociales en el mundo del trabajo deben ser resueltos mediante el restablecimiento de una jerarquía justa de valores y la dignificación de los trabajadores antes que todo".

En el trabajo, proclama la Iglesia, los hombres y las mujeres encuentran no sólo el camino más sostenible hacia la seguridad económica, sino que también se convierten en co-creadores con Dios en el mundo en el que vivimos. El trabajo es, pues, profundamente una realidad sagrada. Protege la dignidad humana aun cuando enriquezca espiritualmente esa dignidad. Si realmente somos en nuestro trabajo co-creadores con Dios, ¿no creen que merecemos por lo menos $15 la hora?

En tercer lugar actuación. Después del panel de ayer, cuando se les preguntó a los panelistas que resumieran el mensaje en una palabra, pensé ¿cuál es el "acto" que resume cómo debemos actuar en este momento?

Y se me vinieron a la mente dos palabras. La primera, tristemente, ha sido provista por nuestra elección pasada. El presidente Trump fue el candidato de "perturbaciones”.

Ahora nos toca a todos nosotros ser perturbadores. Debemos perturbar a aquellos que buscan enviar tropas a nuestras calles para deportar a los indocumentados, para arrancar a madres y padres de sus familias. Debemos perturbar a quienes describen a los refugiados como enemigos en lugar de nuestros hermanos y hermanas en terrible necesidad. Debemos perturbar a aquellos que nos entrenan para ver a hombres, mujeres y niños musulmanes como fuerzas de temor más que como hijos de Dios. Debemos perturbar a aquellos que buscan robar nuestra atención médica, especialmente de los pobres. Debemos perturbar a aquellos que toman incluso cupones de alimentos y ayuda nutricional de la boca de los niños.

Pero nosotros, como personas de fe, como discípulos de Jesucristo, como hijos de Abraham, como seguidores del Profeta Muhammad, de personas de todas las creencias y sin fe, no podemos ser meramente perturbadores, también tenemos que ser reconstructores.

Tenemos que reconstruir esta nación para que pongamos en su meollo el servicio a la dignidad de la persona humana y afirmemos lo que la bandera estadounidense afirma es nuestra herencia: Cada hombre, mujer y niño es igual en esta nación y son llamados a ser igual.

Debemos reconstruir una nación en solidaridad, la enseñanza nos enseña que todos somos hijos de un solo Dios, no hay hijos de un dios menor entre nosotros. La enseñanza católica nos dice que todos estamos llamados a estar unidos y abrazarnos unos a otros y vernos a nosotros mismos como agraciados por Dios. Estamos llamados a reconstruir nuestra nación, que paga $15 por hora en salarios, y provee vivienda decente, ropa y comida para los más necesitados. Además, debemos reconstruir nuestro planeta, que está en peligro por nuestras propias industrias.

Así que veamos, juzguemos y actuemos.

Rompamos y reconstruyamos.

Y hagamos el trabajo del Señor.

MODESTO,  Calif., Feb. 18, 2017 – The Most Rev. Robert W. McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, today delivered the following comments at the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements during a panel discussion on the barriers marginalized people face in housing and work.

For the past century, from the worker movements of Catholic action in France, Belgium and Italy to Pope John XXIII’s call to re-structure the economies of the world in “Mater et Magistra,” to the piercing missionary message of the Latin American Church at Aparecida, the words “see,” “judge” and “act” have provided a powerful pathway for those who seek to renew the temporal order in the light of the Gospel and justice.

As the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace described this pathway, it lies in “seeing clearly the situation, judging with principles that foster the integral development of people and acting in a way which implements these principles in the light of everyone’s unique situation.”

There is no greater charter for this gathering taking place here in Modesto in these days than the simple but rich architecture of these three words: “see,” “judge” and “act.” Yet these words -- which carry with them such a powerful history of social transformation around the world in service to the dignity of the human person -- must be renewed and re-examined at every age and seen against the background of those social, economic and political forces in each historical moment.

In the United States we stand at a pivotal moment as a people and a nation, in which bitter divisions cleave our country and pollute our national dialogue.

In our reflections in these days, here, we must identify the ways in which our very ability to see, judge and act on behalf of justice is being endangered by cultural currents which leave us isolated, embittered and angry. We must make the issues of jobs, housing, immigration, economic disparities and the environment foundations for common efforts rather than of division.  We must see prophetic words and prophetic actions which produce unity and cohesion and we must do so in the spirit of hope which is realistic. For as Pope Francis stated to the meeting in Bolivia: “You are sowers of change,” and sowers never lose hope.

See Clearly the Situation

One of the most striking elements of “Laudato Si” is its clear and bold analysis of the empirical realities that threaten the Earth which is our common home. “Seeing the situation clearly” is the whole foundation for that encyclical. It is the starting point for transformative justice. Pope Francis was unafraid to venture into this controversial set of questions about climate change and the environment despite the fact that massive social and economic forces, especially within our own country, have conspired to obscure the scientific realities of climate change and environmental degradation, in the very same way that the tobacco companies obscured for decades the medical science pertaining to smoking.

There is a lesson for us here, as agents of change and justice. Never be afraid to speak the truth. Always find your foundation for reflection and action in the fullness of empirical reality. Design strategies for change upon ever fuller dissemination of truths, even when they seem inconvenient to the cause.

This is an especially important anchor for us, in an age in which truth itself is under attack.

Pope Benedict lamented the diminishment of attention to the importance of objective truth in public life and discourse.  Now we come to a time when alternate facts compete with real facts, and whole industries have arisen to shape public opinion in destructively isolated and dishonest patterns. The dictum “see clearly the situation” has seldom been more difficult in our society in the United States.

Yet the very realities which our speakers this morning have all pointed to in capturing the depth of marginalization in housing, work and economic equality within the United States point us toward the clarification and the humanization of truth, which leads to a deeper grasp of the realities of injustice and marginalization that confront our nation.

As Pope Francis underscored in his words to the Popular Movements in Bolivia, “When we look into the eyes of the suffering, when we see the faces of the endangered campesino, the poor laborer, the downtrodden native, the homeless family, the persecuted migrant, the unemployed young person and the exploited child, we have seen and heard not a cold statistic but the pain of a suffering humanity, our own pain, our own flesh.”

One of the most important elements of your work as agents of justice in our midst in this country in this moment, is to help our society as a whole become more attuned to this reality of humanized truth, through narrative and witness, listening and solidarity. In this way, you not only witness to the truth through the lives and experiences of the marginalized, you help us all to see the most powerful realities of our world in greater depth.

Those realities embrace both scientific findings and stories of tragedy, economic analysis and the tears of the human heart. “See clearly the situation” is not merely a step in your work on behalf of justice, it shapes everything that you do to transform our world.

Judging with Principles to Foster Integral Development

The fundamental political question of our age is whether our economic structures and systems in the United States will enjoy ever greater autonomy or whether they will be located effectively within a juridical structure which seeks to safeguard the dignity of the human person and the common good of our nation.

In that battle, the tradition of Catholic social teaching is unequivocally on the side of strong governmental and societal protections for the powerless, the worker, the homeless, the hungry, those without decent medical care, the unemployed. This stance of the Church’s teaching flows from the teaching of the Book of Genesis: The creation is the gift of God to all of humanity. Thus in the most fundamental way, there is a universal destination for all of the material goods that exist in this world. Wealth is a common heritage, not at its core a right of lineage or acquisition.

For this reason, free markets do not constitute a first principle of economic justice. Their moral worth is instrumental in nature and must be structured by government to accomplish the common good.

In Catholic teaching, the very rights which are being denied in our society to large numbers of those who live in our nation are intrinsic human rights in Catholic teaching: The right to medical care; to decent housing; to the protection of human life from conception to natural death; of the right to food; of the right to work. Catholic teaching sees these rights not merely as points for negotiation, provided only if there is excess in society after the workings of the free market system accomplished their distribution of the nation’s wealth. Rather, these rights are basic claims which every man, woman and family has upon our nation as a whole.

These are the fundamental principles which the Church points to as the basis for judgement for every political and social program that structures economic life within the United States. And they are supplemented in Catholic teaching by a grave suspicion about enormous levels of economic inequality in society. Pope Francis made clear the depth of this suspicion two years ago. “Inequality,” he said, “is the root of social evil.”

In his encyclical “The Joy of the Gospel,” Francis unmasked inequality as the foundation for a process of exclusion that cuts immense segments of society off from meaningful participation in social, political and economic life, as we have all heard this morning. It gives rise to a financial system that rules rather than serves humanity and a capitalism that literally kills those who have no utility as consumers.

Now, when I quote the Pope that “this economy kills,” people very often say to me, “Oh come on, that’s just an exaggeration; it’s a form of speech.”

I want to do an experiment with you. I want you to sit back in your chair for a moment. And close your eyes, and I want you to think of someone you have known that our economy has killed:  A senior who can’t afford medicine or rent; a mother or father who is dying, working two and three jobs, really dying because even then they can’t provide for their kids; young people who can’t find their way in the world in which there is no job for them, and they turn to drugs, or gangs or suicide. Think of one person you know that this economy has killed.

Now mourn them.

And now call out their name; let all the world know that this economy kills. 
For Catholic social teaching, the surest pathway to economic justice is the provision of meaningful and sustainable work for all men and women capable of work. The “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” states, “Economic and social imbalances in the world of work must be addressed by restoring a just hierarchy of values and placing the dignity of workers before all else.”

In work, the Church proclaims, men and women find not only the most sustainable avenue to economic security but also become co-creators with God in the world in which we live. Work is thus profoundly a sacred reality. It protects human dignity even as it spiritually enriches that dignity. If we truly are in our work co-creators with God, don’t we think that deserves at least $15 an hour?


After the panel yesterday, when the panelists were asked in one word how they would summarize their message, I tried to think, what is the “act” that summarizes how we must act in this moment?

And I came up with two words. The first has been provided in our past election. President Trump was the candidate of “disruption.” He was “the disruptor,” he said, challenging the operations of our government and society that need reform.

Well now, we must all become disruptors. We must disrupt those who would seek to send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families. We must disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need. We must disrupt those who train us to see Muslim men, women and children as forces of fear rather than as children of God. We must disrupt those who seek to rob our medical care, especially from the poor. We must disrupt those who would take even food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children.

But we, as people of faith, as disciples of Jesus Christ, as children of Abraham, as followers of the Prophet Muhammad, as people of all faiths and no faith, we cannot merely be disruptors, we also have to be rebuilders.

We have to rebuild this nation so that we place at its heart the service to the dignity of the human person and assert what the American flag behinds us asserts is our heritage: Every man, woman and child is equal in this nation and called to be equal.

We must rebuild a nation in solidarity, what Catholic teaching calls the sense that all of us are the children of the one God, there are no children of a lesser god in our midst. That all of us are called to be cohesive and embrace one another and see ourselves as graced by God. We are called to rebuild our nation which does pay $15 an hour in wages, and provides decent housing, clothing and food for those who are poorest. And we need to rebuild our Earth, which is so much in danger by our own industries.

So let us see and judge and act.

Let us disrupt and rebuild in solidarity and peace.

And let us do God’s work.



SAN DIEGO – Bishop Robert McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, issued a statement this afternoon critical of a controversial executive order signed by President Trump restricting the flow of travelers and refugees into the United States, as well as creating a new religious test for entry.


“For the Catholic community, the Gospel mandate to ‘welcome the stranger’ is a searing responsibility, not only in our personal lives, but also in guiding our efforts to create a just society in a world filled with suffering and turmoil.

“For this reason, the historic identity of the United States as a safe haven for refugees fleeing war and persecution is for American Catholics both a source of justifiable pride and an unswerving religious commitment, even as we recognize that at shameful moments in our national history prejudice, fear and ignorance have led our country to abandon that identity.

“This week is just such a shameful moment of abandonment for the United States.

“The executive order signed by President Trump on Friday professes to be a necessary step in securing the safety of Americans.   But the design of the order--and its chaotic implementation--unmask the reality that this Presidential order arose not from a careful effort to balance the needs of security with our commitment to welcome refugees amidst the greatest refugee crisis since World War II.  Rather, this executive order is the introduction into law of campaign sloganeering rooted in xenophobia and religious prejudice.  Its devastating consequences are already apparent for those suffering most in our world, for our standing among nations, and for the imperative of rebuilding unity within our country rather than tearing us further apart.

“This week the Statue of Liberty lowered its torch in a presidential action which repudiates our national heritage and ignores the reality that Our Lord and the Holy Family were themselves Middle Eastern refugees fleeing government oppression.  We cannot and will not stand silent.”

The Diocese of San Diego runs the length of California’s border with Mexico and serves more than 1.3 million Catholics in San Diego and Imperial Counties. It includes 98 parishes, 48 elementary and secondary schools, and various social service and family support organizations throughout the region.  It also includes five historic sites, the most well known of which is the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, the first mission established in California by St. Junipero Serra in 1769.



SD Catholic Bishop asks faithful to seize ‘moments of opportunities’ to pursue pro-life federal policies
Marches with families in Fifth Annual San Diego Walk for LifeBishop McElroy speaks at 2017 Walk for Life

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 21, 2017 – San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert McElroy delivered the following comments at the Fifth Annual San Diego Walk for Life, at Balboa Park, before an estimated 3,000 participants:

“It is a great joy to join with you all here today because what we’re doing is the work of God. What we’re doing is witnessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this great nation. What we’re doing is honoring the heroism of women and men like those we have just heard from; who in their lives have encountered challenges and tragedies and taken actions to preserve life, to enhance life and to give the gift of life in very difficult circumstances. 

“All of us are people who know what it means to fall, to encounter challenges, to work in our lives to come closer to God. I give thanks to all those who have chosen adoption. I give thanks to all of those women who understand that God forgives us. And I give thanks to all of those people who stand aside from abortion and choose life, even if it’s the greatest challenge. 

“Yesterday, I celebrated Mass at St. Patrick’s parish in Carlsbad. And it was a Mass for Life. And the sixth-graders at the school sang a very beautiful song, a song of the unborn child titled “I Can’t Wait.” And it was a song that took the stages of development from conception onward and personalized it. And the unborn child would speak to us. Here is human life. Here is a person God has already created, here is a child waiting to be born, joyous, filled with all the potential of life.

“As all of us listened to that song, to the poignancy of that song, those sixth-graders, in their youth, understood the simplicity of the truth of this matter: That life in the womb is human life, a life that needs to be protected, a life which needs all of our support.
“And it is only as we get older in the world that complexities in our society seem to get in the way of recognizing that simple truth. We are here today to testify to that simple truth. 

“We are here to call our nation to recognize it and to bring it, more and more, into the heart of our public policy. Now this year we do have moments of opportunities because we have a Congress and a President who have committed to rule on the issues of human life. And I think that gives us not only a new sense of solidarity on this issue but it also gives us a new challenge. All of us who are here, in the coming year, we have to speak to our representatives, speak with the White House, and help to get our country that to not only work on the eventual goal of overturning Roe v. Wade, but also, and more immediately, to make progress that is tangible on federal legislation on issues such as parental notification. We have tried that in our state time after time and failed. Federal legislation can achieve that for us. It’s time for us to move vigorously in the coming year.

“And I hope that I will be here next year, and I know you will be here next year also, and that our message will grow. And that we will have achieved some progress in this area, witnessing this core reality: The beauty of human life, symbolized in the life of Christ himself, born in a manger.  

“Thank you for being here. Thank you for your prayers. God bless us all.



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  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 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. 




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.”



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 (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.”



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


As Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego

SAN DIEGO – The Vatican Press Office today announced that His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Fr. John P. Dolan, the current pastor of St. John the Evangelist parish in Hillcrest, as auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of San Diego. He will take up his duties June 8, following his episcopal ordination at St. Therese of Carmel in Del Mar. Bishop Robert McElroy noted two central characteristics of Father Dolan's priesthood: the great love which he has for the priests and the people of God, and the intensely joyful spirit that permeates his life and mission. "Our local church," Bishop McElroy said, "will be deeply blessed by these gifts in Bishop-Elect Dolan's new episcopal role of leadership, sacrifice and prayerful service." McElroy’s comments came this morning during Bishop-Elect Dolan’s introduction to staff and family at the diocesan Pastoral Center. As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop-Elect Dolan will assist Bishop McElroy in the operation and management of the diocese and in the performance of sacramental duties, such as confirmations. Bishop McElroy remains in charge of the diocese. Bishop-Elect Dolan begins his new duties at a time when the Diocese is implementing innovative initiatives to strengthen local Catholic families and their communities. One of these grew out of a historic synod held last fall to develop ways to strengthen marriage and families and to welcome and support youth and young adults. Another offers leadership development opportunities for local Catholic school administrators, in partnership with the University of San Diego. And still another is providing vital resources to immigrants and refugees in light of changes at the federal level. Dolan, 54, grew up in the Clairemont neighborhood of San Diego, and was ordained to the priesthood on July 1, 1989 by Bishop Leo T. Maher at San Rafael Parish in Rancho Bernardo. He is a near-fluent Spanish speaker. One of nine children born to Gerald and Catherine Dolan, he was educated in local Catholic schools at St. Mary Magdalene Parish and University High School, before attending St. Francis Seminary and the University of San Diego, where he received a B.A. in Philosophy. He continued his studies at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, CA, where he earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree, along with a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Theology. “I am profoundly grateful to his Holiness Pope Francis for this honor,” said Bishop-Elect Dolan. “I look forward to accompanying Bishop McElroy in his ministry to this beautiful diocese in which I have witnessed the presence of God's love continually for the whole of my life.” Dolan has served as a priest in the Diocese of San Diego for 27 years. He began as an associate at St. Michael’s Parish in Paradise Hills before going on to Santa Sophia Parish in Spring Valley. He served 12 years as pastor at St. Rose of Lima in Chula Vista and 5 years as pastor at St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Oceanside. Most recently, he has served as Vicar for Clergy at the Pastoral Center, where he oversees the assignment of priests and clergy at the 98 parishes in the diocese and as Pastor at St. John the Evangelist and St. Vincent De Paul in Mission Hills/Hillcrest. He will continue in those roles. The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego ( runs the length of California’s border with Mexico and serves more than 1.3 million Catholics in San Diego and Imperial Counties. It includes 98 parishes, 49 elementary and secondary schools, and, through Catholic Charities of the Diocese of San Diego (, various social service and family support organizations throughout the region. It also includes five historic sites, the most well known of which is the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, the first mission established in California by St. Junipero Serra in 1769. A photo of Bishop-Elect Dolan is available on request.



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