SAN DIEGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - San Diego Bp. Robert McElroy has announced his backing for women deacons — an apparent first for a U.S. prelate since Pope Francis launched a commission to study the question of creating a female diaconate in 2016.
As the Amazon Synod drew to a close on Sunday, McElroy told the National Catholic Reporter that he hopes the commission will eventually reach "a conclusion that it is not prohibited to ordain women to the diaconate."
"I'm in favor of it," he said. "My view on it is [that] women should be invited into every ministry or activity we have that's not doctrinally precluded."
"I've talked with a couple of bishops I know who are very careful on these questions, but have done some research on it, who believe it's not precluded," he added. "I think if it's not precluded, it would be good to do."
On Saturday, Pope Francis announced that in response to the recommendation of the synod's final document, he will reconvene his commission on women deacons for further study.
Reflecting on the pope's pledge, McElroy told Catholic News Service "that signals to me there's new life to that proposal."
Among synod fathers "there was tremendous visceral support for the work women are doing in the Amazon," the bishop observed, suggesting "that's why the support was so strong on the diaconate question."
"My hope would be that they would find a pathway to make that a reality," said McElroy. "I think there's a good possibility that's the direction it's going to head into. The Pope added his comments yesterday. The fact he did that, makes me think there's a good chance that some positive action will come out of that."
McElroy noted that in their discussion, the bishops did not confine the possibility of women deacons to the Amazon.
"I think the role of women and the question of the diaconate is an important one to follow up on," he said, suggesting he could imagine them in San Diego.
Along with Boston Cdl. Seán O'Malley, Bp. McElroy was one of just two U.S. Church representatives handpicked by Pope Francis to attend the synod.
While in Rome, investigative journalist George Neumayr encountered McElroy enjoying a night on the town with O'Malley and Newark Cdl. Joseph Tobin. Challenging Tobin's recent assertion that the Church must "rethink human sexuality," Neumayr was met with nervous laughter from the New Jersey prelate.
Meanwhile, as O'Malley tried to deflect Neumayr's questions, McElroy responded by walking, head down, in silence.
A journalist asks serious questions — and gets silence in response. Cardinal Tobin rushes off in silence, with a smirk on his face, while Bp. McElroy keeps his head down hoping George Neumayr won't ask him anything. Cardinal O'Malley is the only one... https://t.co/d3EVkFRDjX— Christine Niles (@ChristineNiles1) October 6, 2019
A leading Church liberal, McElroy has made headlines in recent years with his attempt to chart a new, liberal course for his diocese.
In August 2018, Vatican whistleblower Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò, former papal nuncio to the United States, claimed that McElroy was specially chosen to orchestrate the homosexual infiltration of the San Diego diocese.
According to Viganò, McElroy's appointment came at the order of Vatican Secretary of State Cdl. Pietro Parolin who, along with Pope Francis and several of his advisors, covered up former Cdl. Theodore McCarrick's history as a serial sexual predator.
"The appointment of McElroy in San Diego was also orchestrated from above," Viganò wrote, "with an encrypted peremptory order to me as Nuncio, by Cardinal Parolin: 'Reserve the See of San Diego for McElroy'" [emphasis in original].
Once in power, McElroy promoted — and protected — the growing gay network in his own diocese and beyond. In August 2016, renowned clerical sex abuse investigator Richard Sipe informed McElroy that McCarrick had been sexually abusing young men and minors for decades. The bishop said and did nothing in response to Sipe's warning.