Ham-Handed Bishop McElroy–No Friend Of Pope Francis

Ham-Handed Bishop McElroy–No Friend Of Pope Francis November 14, 2019

A Dissonant Melody In The Catholic Pro-Life Symphony

At the USCCB meeting of the US bishops this week, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy injected unnecessary dissension into the conference and confusion into America’s Catholics.  A letter from the bishops accompanying a series of videos to help Catholics with the political process stated unequivocally that abortion was the “pre-eminent” social concern.  McElroy said this kind of language was “discordant with the pope’s  teaching, if not inconsistent…It is not Catholic teaching that abortion is the preeminent issue that we face as a world in Catholic social teaching. It is not.”

Bishop McElroy–Ham-handed or Simply Subversive?

Mmmm.  That certainly did not go over well with the bishops.  In fact, they disowned him and his viewpoint quite decisively, opting for retention of the original statement, highlighting the fight against abortion as the rallying cry for other areas of social concern.  Bishop McElroy’s ham-handed attempt to be more Catholic than the pope does a great deal of harm to the United States bishops’ attempts to mount a unanimous support for pro-life causes, but does even more damage to Pope Francis.  With friends like this, who needs enemies? At a time when the Pope is often criticized for not emphasizing Catholic doctrine enough, McElroy’s amazingly obtuse intervention hurts the Pope with his own critics.  Francis deserves better than this.

No Friend of the Pope or the Pope’s Pro-Life Views

It is absurd to think that the Pope would want to lessen the focus on abortion.  This is the pontiff who has attacked abortion many times with the strongest language possible.  He has compared abortionists to “hit men” and called abortion genocide “with white gloves.” McElroy has often looked like a climber in episcopal politics. His atrocious actions at the Bishop’s meeting this week didn’t do him any favors.  Besides that, he is behind the times.  More and more Catholics and non-Catholics are appalled at the perilous moral reasoning that has led to the pro-choice advocacy of abortion being expanded to infanticide.  McElroy shouldn’t sacrifice his moral teaching authority, such as it is, on the altar of his own ecclesiastical ladder climbing.

The Conference Slap Down–Not a Good Way to Climb the Ladder of Ecclesiastical Preferment

Apparently, the other bishops feel similarly.  Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia castigated the San Diego Bishop, earning a roomful of grateful applause from the rest of the episcopal attendees at the bi-annual gathering and a restatement of the strong pro-life view.  Bishop McElroy risks being named the successor to Bishop Thomas Gumbleton whose similarly vapid responses in the past led him to be seen as too liberal and doctrine-light to be truly Catholic.  Does the good Bishop really want to inherit that miter and be seen as the moral lightweight that will make him popular only with those secular alt-left proponents of easy morality and disdain for the voiceless?

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  • Maggie Sullivan

    One thing is for sure Msgr. Barr, you are one of the most interesting writes on the church today.

  • Sean

    True colors shining through.
    The Catholic Bishop of San Diego is no friend of the unborn.
    It’s all lip service. Bet on it.

  • Catechist Kev

    McElroy… claimed, “It is not Catholic teaching that abortion is the preeminent issue that we face as a world in Catholic social teaching. It is not.”


    So says a person who was actually *allowed* the fundamental right to life. [rolling eyes]

  • Andy

    I wish that the bishops would more fully address what it means to be pro-life. Stopping abortions means changing the minds and hearts of a culture – a culture that values money and prestige more than it values human life. We, if I deed we want to be pro-life, need to move beyond the partisan/political divide about a SCOTUS decision, no matter how badly decided, and move into the culture with open arms and support for families, children, mothers and fathers, and show those who claim to be “pro-choice” that the choice has to be life and that we are there for that choice. Rancorous attacks and condemnation will change few if any minds.m

  • jerseyboy62

    Andy, this has pretty much been Pope Francis’ argument from what I have read from him. He argues that you cannot address abortion to someone who does not even know God or the love and saving power of Christ. The only thing I object to in the Pope’s argument is that he downplays abortion (in that same document—I think it was Gaudium Evangelium, but I can’t recall or sure) at a time when the culture needs the Church to be strong on the subject more than ever, but as you say, not by “rancorous attacks”. Although, I am not sure I have ever heard the Church in its public teaching “rancorously” attack anyone who is pro-abortion, the position, of course, but not the person. That is, she is careful not to confuse the sinner with the sin. With a media that will jump on any softening of the Church’s position as blanket approval and a change in doctrine–confusing the faithful even further–I don’t think it is wise for the Church to ever not “condemn” abortion. She doesn’t do so to change minds. I think the Church is fully aware that her position doesn’t change minds, but rather she provides a clear choice steeped in God-given, human freedom to choose just as God gave the Israelites a choice in Deuteronomy 30:15-20. The context is whether the Israelites will follow God’s commandments or not. In v. 19 he says, “I call heaven and earth today to witness against you. I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.”

  • Maggie Sullivan

    The church has turned in on it self and is at war with it’s own teachings.

  • Andy

    JB62, I am not sure that he downplays, nor do I want the church to downplay the evil of abortion. I believe that to stop abortions we have to address all aspects of life – that we as a church must work to change the culture that values money, or I believe even more strongly devalues life. To change minds we must change not the message about abortion, but we must change how we see life; we must be open to life in all its intricate mysteries. This does not downplay nor water-down the message; rather it makes it more full and easier, if you will, to hear.

  • St JD George

    Are you forgetting the highly unusual circumstance behind this man being made a bishop and groomed by Uncle Ted, not to mention a few others?

  • Michael Eberl

    How do Bishop McElroy’s views differ from Cardinal Cupich or Bishop Stowe? They don’t, all three of them are promoting the Seamless Garment nonsense of Bernardin. They are actually pushing the Pope’s directives. They are the most trusted American allies of Pope Francis.

  • Michael Eberl

    How does one go about changing the culture that values money?

  • Andy

    We overvalue money at the expense of people, so I did not state me beliefs clearly, and I apologize for that. I believe that we must focus on valuing people. A quick example us the “gig economy”. Both of a set of parents with a 1 year old are employed in retail. They are called to come in whenever needed and are sent home when the store deems them superfluous- given the cost of housing, the cost food, medical costs, and childcare thus family at best struggles, more often the family fails. Is it any wonder that they see abortion as a viable alternative to having a baby? We need to establish a living wage, based on locale, not a national wage. We need to better find childcare, and indeed find ways to have childcare available when needed by families. We need to focus the least of us, and not the greatest of us. To do so means we must recognize that instead 99% profits, a business may only reap 80%.

  • St JD George

    Why are you afraid to post my comment about what satanic priests who were converted by the Holy Spirit have to say about their experience while possessed? Specifically how in their black mass they celebrated abortion and homosexuality.


    More like confused and confusing. Hires and fires communicate papal policy–not a few tough sounding statements that have the teeth ripped out of them.

  • Maggie Sullivan

    If we move past the politics then the baby killers will be the only political voice and slaughter will continue.

    Condemnation of murdering babies is a very important thing to do. We need to love and help people in need and condemn the politicians and cultural elites who promote child killing.

    As long as Dolan gives Biden Holy Communion we are a joke if we say the Church is pro-life.

  • Andy

    And maintaining shrill, divisive political rhetoric drives people to extreme positions and weakens any movement. By the way should we condemn those who promote birth, but deny the need to support families? As long as the Church does not call those folks out the church is not pro-life.

  • mad2002mad

    Andy you just broke the code. These so called pro-lifers are just pro birth. They believe life begins at conception and ends at birth. They oppose expanding Medicaid…CHIPS…SNAP..Sec 8 Housing…and a plethora of other items needed to raise children. In addition…they want to punish women who have abortions as well as miscarriages…at least 3-4 states have arrested women who have miscarriages…and several are in prison. In short…they are hypocrites…as are the bishops…