Cardinal McElroy’s elevation has ‘enormous significance’ for U.S. church / National Catholic Reporter

The Catholics whose hearts have been warmed and encouraged by (Cardinal Robert) McElroy’s leadership for many years were among those ‘ecstatic’ at the appointment.

Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

“As you can imagine, I am not often speechless. But when I finally reached the end of the receiving line at the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See’s residence to greet Cardinal Robert McElroy on Aug. 26, I couldn’t find the words. It has been three months since the news of his elevation to the cardinalate arrived — three months for it to sink in — and I was still not sure what to say.

“Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, knew what to say. ‘Ecstatic’ was how he described what so many Catholics were feeling at this moment. Wester spoke at a dinner for McElroy’s family and friends after the Mass of thanksgiving on Aug. 28. In discussions with pilgrims from San Diego, friends of McElroy’s from San Francisco or from college and seminary, and his brother bishops, ‘ecstatic’ was the exact word.  

“For progressive Catholics, McElroy has been one of a handful of bishops who would go the extra mile, make statements of support for gay Catholics, push back against conservative efforts to hijack church teaching for political ends and participate in conferences on climate change. The Catholics whose hearts have been warmed and encouraged by McElroy’s leadership for many years were among those ‘ecstatic’ at the appointment.

“For Catholic intellectual leaders, ‘ecstatic’ was the right word too. ‘It is something of a truism that theologians and bishops live in different bubbles,’ Jesuit Fr. Mark Massa, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, told me. ‘The person who was best able to burst those bubbles was John Courtney Murray. Well before Vatican II, Murray saw the complexities and the promise of being a faithful Catholic in America. Most intellectuals I talk to, are delighted that McElroy is now a cardinal because he did serious intellectual work on Murray at the beginning of his ecclesiastical career.'”

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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