PopeWatch: Cupich of the West



Christ told us by our fruits he shall know us.  In regard to Popes it is by their appointments that they tend to be known:


It’s being called the “Cupich appointment of the West,” and not without reason – resolving the highest-profile vacancy on the current US docket, at Roman Noon tomorrow the Pope is slated to name Bishop Robert McElroy, the 61 year-old auxiliary of San Francisco known as one of the Stateside bench’s most outspoken progressives, as the sixth bishop of San Diego and its 1 million Catholics in the nation’s seventh-largest city.

As reports of the appointment quietly circulated for much of last week, three Whispers ops appraised of the move confirmed the news over the weekend. Coming just shy of six months since the premature death of Bishop Cirilo Flores after a brief struggle with cancer, as reports here at the time indicated, the succession was indeed fast-tracked given both the relative freshness of the consultations leading up to Flores’ own selection in early 2012 and the diocese’s still-unsettled state from its 2007 bankruptcy amid a torrent of sex-abuse lawsuits, which was settled for $197 million.

Go here to read the rest.  Robert McElroy is no stranger to PopeWatch.  This from October 21, 2013:


We have a prime example of the Francis Effect from Nancy Pelosi’s pet Bishop:  Robert W. McElroy.  Appointed by Pope Benedict for some inexplicable reason as an auxiliary bishop of San Francisco in 2010, McElroy wrote a piece for the Jesuit rag America in 2005 in which he rode to the rescue of pro-abort Catholic politicians facing a potential risk of being denied the Eucharist for voting in favor of child murder in utero:

1. The denial of the Eucharist to political leaders who support abortion legislation will inevitably be perceived by Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, as coercive. The church has presented itself to American society as a witness to the values of the Gospel in the social order, seeking to convert minds and hearts to defend the dignity of the human person. Eucharistic sanctions will be seen as a repudiation of this role in the public square and the adoption of a radically new stance based upon the coercion of minds rather than the conversion of minds. It does not matter that eucharistic sanctions would be fully within the legitimate moral and civil rights of the church to adopt, and that those who have attacked them as a violation of the separation of church and state are totally in error in their understanding of the constitutional tradition of the United States. What does matter enormously is that Americans will in general recoil from the use of the Eucharist as a political weapon, and will reassess their overall opinion of the church’s role in the political order. Not only will sanctions not increase support for pro-life legislation; they will also undermine support for the church’s entire effort to bring Gospel values to the structures and policies of American government and society.

2. Eucharistic sanctions will further identify abortion as a sectarian Catholic issue and thus play into the hands of those who falsely accuse the pro-life movement of imposing specifically religious tenets upon the American people. One of the most damaging and mistaken charges leveled against pro-life political leaders and groups is the assertion that the commitment to protect human life from the moment of conception is a specifically religious principle and should not be enshrined in law in a religiously free society. The pro-life movement has worked arduously to refute this assertion and to build a coalition that crosses religious boundaries, embracing men and women of all religions and no religion. The imposition of eucharistic sanctions will cripple this effort.

3. The use of eucharistic sanctions for political action will inevitably breed a reductionist outlook in defining the church’s social agenda. One of the greatest strengths of the church’s teaching in the social and political orders has been the breadth of vision the Catholic tradition brings to the monumental problems of our times. Repeatedly, the church has refused to countenance any effort to reduce this social teaching to fit categories imposed by particular political systems or structures. In its Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life (November 2002), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith powerfully attested to the full spectrum of these moral imperatives for Catholics. Yet the sanctions movement has already made clear that it advances a two-tier notion of political imperatives for Catholics, one that centers upon life issues and another for all other political and social questions. The life issues will be deemed essential to the fullness of Catholic faith and thus to participation in the Eucharist; all other issues–including war and issues of economic justice, over which the United States exercises unparalleled influence because of its political and economic power—will be relegated to secondary status.

4. The imposition of eucharistic sanctions will cast the church as a partisan actor in the American political system. One of the great tragedies of American politics in the present day is that the Democratic and Republican parties have evolved in a way that makes it virtually impossible for candidates who follow Catholic social teaching in its major elements to win party primaries and thus to be elected to office. In the main, this means that Republican political leaders in the United States are more reflective of the church’s stance on abortion, euthanasia, cloning and marriage, while Democratic political leaders are more likely to reflect Catholic values on issues pertaining to war and peace, the poor, the death penalty and the environment. Such a schism in our political culture places Catholic voters who wish to follow church teaching in a very difficult position. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has handled this dilemma by emphasizing the importance of the wide spectrum of critical social issues, while simultaneously pointing to the particularly critical role that abortion has in the present day. The imposition of eucharistic sanctions solely on candidates who support abortion legislation will inevitably transform the church in the United States, in the minds of many, into a partisan, Republican-oriented institution  and thus sacrifice the role that the church has played almost alone in American society in advocating a moral agenda that transcends the political divide.

Now, as an example of the Francis Effect, he has struck again in America, and citing Pope Francis, he declares that the fight against poverty should be on the same footing as the fight against abortion for the Church in America:

Within the United States, we also turn our eyes away from the growing domestic inequality that ruins lives and breaks spirits. Pope Francis speaks directly to this: “While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing for the common good.” The United States, which for so much of its great history has stood for economic mobility and a broad, comfortable middle class, now reflects gross disparities in income and wealth and barriers to mobility. The poor suffer a “benign neglect” in our political conversations, and absorb brutal cuts in governmental aid, especially at the state level.

If the Catholic Church is truly to be a “church for the poor” in the United States, it must elevate the issue of poverty to the very top of its political agenda, establishing poverty alongside abortion as the pre-eminent moral issues the Catholic community pursues at this moment in our nation’s history. Both abortion and poverty countenance the deaths of millions of children in a world where government action could end the slaughter. Both abortion and poverty, each in its own way and to its own degree, constitute an assault on the very core of the dignity of the human person, instrumentalizing life as part of a throwaway culture. The cry of the unborn and the cry of the poor must be at the core of Catholic political conversation in the coming years because these realities dwarf other threats to human life and dignity that confront us today.

So, it is the seamless, and moth-eaten, garment back with a vengeance.  McElroy of course is as transparent as glass.  This is an attempt to neuter the Church in the struggle against abortion and to give political cover to the party of abortion:  the Democrat Party.  Ironically, if Bishop McElroy were truly interested in combating poverty, the very last party he would support is the Democrat Party, with its ossified commitment to a manifestly dying welfare state that traps generation after generation in government dependence an poverty.  Of course this attempt to put poverty and abortion on the same moral footing is directly contrary to Church teaching, or at least that was the opinion of then Cardinal Ratzinger when he wrote to Cardinal  McCarrick in 2004:

1. Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision,  based on a reasoned judgment regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to  the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: “Am I in full  communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a  penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy  Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?” The practice  of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a  consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (cf.  Instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” nos. 81, 83).

2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical  Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that  authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and  clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of  an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it  is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign  in favour of such a law or vote for it’” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave  obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if  permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the  moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This  cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of  others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it”  (no. 74).

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.  For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the  application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not  for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy  Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war,  and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may  still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse  to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among  Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with  regard to abortion and euthanasia.

4. Apart from an individual’s judgment about his worthiness to present himself  to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself  in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone,  such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an  obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).

5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal  cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician,  as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and  euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the  Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy  Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning  him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

Perhaps Bishop McElroy never has read the letter?  Perhaps he read it and it has slipped his mind?  Perhaps he read it and doesn’t give a d–n?  If nothing else, PopeWatch expects the current papacy to be amusing in watching the antics of born again ultramontanes, who had little but contempt for prior Church teaching when it diverged from their preferred politics.

Go here to read the comments.


One can be forgiven for assuming that what Pope Francis is saying by this appointment is that the pro-life movement in this country can go pound sand for all that he cares.

More to explorer


  1. Oh, come on now, Don–the Pope says plenty of fine sounding words on life. It’s just that when the rubber hits the road, he tosses you a bunch of Bernardins who undercut your efforts. In other words, if you want lip service, he’ll give it to you. But if you want action…well, that would send the wrong message to the wider world. Have to meet people where they are, and all that.

    In fact, he’s a lot like the GOP in that respect.

  2. What a puzzle! What is he thinking!? Just like Obama… I think he is doing this stuff on purpose (or is he inept? )
    Really can one be a Liberal and be Catholic? Isn’t that sort of an oxymoron?

  3. Ironic that those who are partaking of the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ unworthily are unaware that their doing so….and trying to defend others that shouldn’t be receiving Jesus until they truly reconcile.

    This is the problem. Bishops Cardinals and whole segments of Catholicity are placing themselves in ruin, AND then trying to ruin other souls by defending their error. They are either oblivious or cruel in their reception of the Eucharist.

    God help us.

  4. Pope Leo X hated making appointments and always tried to delegate the task to others. He claimed that, whenever he made one, he created ten malcontents and one ingrate.

  5. An ironic appointment, given that Cordileone’s auxillary, and ideological opposite, is being sent to San Diego, which is Cordileone’s home town (and wasn’t he bishop there as well?)

  6. Michael Paterson-Seymour: “Pope Leo X hated making appointments and always tried to delegate the task to others. He claimed that, whenever he made one, he created ten malcontents and one ingrate.”
    Well said.

  7. Almost equally as jaw-dropping: NYC just swore in FDNY’s first openly gay female chaplain. Talk about a lib two-bagger: female and hemale! Imagine herself providing spiritual direction to burnt firefighters.

    I was going to address McElroy’s Ragmerica piece line-by-line. But, brevity is the soul of wit. To wit: everything that guy wrote is false. NB: I refrained from employing Bronx vernacular for “false.” Thank you.

  8. This is gravely disturbing on so many levels that it is impossible to unwind. McElroy’s comments about the states suggests the abolition of federalism and subsidiarity. He makes no mention that the main antidote to “poverty” is the family. Those policies which support the family include lower taxes, the need to end debt spending, the encouragement of free enterprise (as opposed to crony capitalism), the moral support for local communities and much more. In other words, to hell with subsidiarity. He fails to understand that our obligations to love and for charity are not satisfied by an all powerful federal and/or global government handing out goodies. Then there are his equally depressing moral relativism arguments. Drivel, pure drivel.

  9. The appointment of +McElroy to be in charge of the San Diego Diocese has the fingerprints of Cardinal Donald Wuerl all over it.

    Cardinal Wuerl, as we all know, favors giving out Holy Communion to anybody who shows up in line and will pour out his wrath upon any poor priest who believes in actual Catholic teaching about Holy Communion and attempts to put it in practice.
    Pope Benedict should have left +Wuerl in Pittsburgh, where, if he had stayed, we would not have a personal Extraordinary Form Parish. Notice that +Wuerl did NOT get promoted two of the bishops, +Tobion of Providence and +Zubik of Pittsburgh, who are a LOT more observant of the rules than Cardinal Wuerl.

    +Wuerl isn’t done yet. Expect more mushmouths to get made bishop, archbishop and cardinal until the current Roman Pontiff hangs ’em up and heads back to Argentina.

  10. I see Pope Francis supporting Orthodoxy one minute and then supporting liberal leftism the next. I truly do not know what to think.

    I suspect the reason for that is that he says whatever is convenient at that moment. See Msgr. George Kelley on foxes and lions in the Church. The appointments are the real show. Personnel is policy.

  11. I belong to our parish MMP group – Marian Movement for Priests. The readings from Fr. Gobbi given to him by locutions from Our Lady have been talking about this type of betrayal- and have been going on – since the 1970’s ,and yet the appointments of this type continue.
    Are our pontiffs deliberately given false information, or kept in the dark, or do their appointments reflect their own understandings ? One has to wonder. The main weapon is prayer and vigilance, and speaking out when we can.

  12. The media will have a field day with this appointment, as well they should. Right when they thought the Pope was an actual Catholic because of his recent statements on marriage, he lets them know he’ll meet the cafeteria Catholics half way and not really pay any attention to the Holy Eucharist, because after all no one should be “punished” and not be allowed in the presence of God during Mass. Nancy Pelosi is giggling as she walks into Mass and crosses herself with holy water. Her favorite pope of all time has just appointed her favorite bishop. All is well in cafeteria Catholic land. Jesus weeps.

  13. Paul:

    The problem with Peters’ take is that he misses a crucial fact: the early Francis appointments were already in the pipeline from Benedict when Francis placed them in their sees.

    Then the Pope reshuffled the Congregation of Bishops, jettisoning Burke and importing Wuerl. Then we started seeing progressives going into high-profile positions. The stream has changed, and now the progs are marching in. He’s whistling past the graveyard, which is a consistent flaw in his writing.

    I am unfamiliar with what Mr. Armstrong wrote, so I can’t comment on that.

  14. Almost equally as jaw-dropping: NYC just swore in FDNY’s first openly gay female chaplain. Talk about a lib two-bagger: female and hemale! Imagine herself providing spiritual direction to burnt firefighters.

    Another insult to public safety personnel courtesy Bilge di Blasio’s camarilla.

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