America's next cardinal: Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego

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They're known as the “princes of the Church.”

Cardinals come from every corner of the world to help the pope guide the world's 1.3 billion Catholics, and most importantly, elect his successor. 

Among the 20 cardinals most recently named by Pope Francis, only one comes from the United States: Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego.

He says his nomination is a chance to bring the American Catholic community closer to the global Church.

Diocese of San Diego

We in the United States tend to be very focused on the United States, we in our own diocese tend to be focused on our own diocese, and one of the contributions which in the role of Cardinals we can make is to point with some constancy to that idea that we are a part of a universal community of faith and part of a universal human family.

A native of San Francisco, McElroy became bishop of San Diego in 2015, where he has attempted to apply the focus of Pope Francis' pontificate on caring for migrants and the environment into his own community. 

Diocese of San Diego

We as a community of faith in San Diego have tried to sow some of the seeds of the renewal that he talks about, and has tried to move the Church toward the idea of missionary discipleship. The emphasis on pastoral theology has been exceedingly important in the life of the Church alongside of doctrine and biblical theology.

Pope Francis has said that he would consider stepping down from the papacy if he felt unable to govern the Church. In that case, Cardinal-designate McElroy will be one of the electors who select the next pope. 

He says that whoever fills the Pope Francis' shoes should aim to more fully implement his efforts to build a more inclusive Church attentive to the needs of the forgotten.

Diocese of San Diego

I would hope the trajectories of the renewal Pope Francis has begun would be a high priority in seeking the next pope. I hope that would be many years down the road, but it'll still be important to try to bring those currents more fully into the life of the Church at all levels.

Bishop McElroy will become one of 16 Americans in the College of Cardinals, and at 68-years-old, he will be one of the 132 cardinals under 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a papal conclave. 


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