VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis has named one of America's most radical pro-LGBT bishops a synod father at October's Pan-Amazon Synod, and someone who has been accused of covering up Theodore McCarrick's crimes.
The Vatican released its list of attendees over the weekend, with two U.S. prelates named: Cdl. Sean O'Malley, head of the Boston archdiocese and chair of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and Bp. Robert McElroy of the diocese of San Diego, California.
McElroy caused scandal in his diocese last year when he defended the employment of a same-sex married staffer at one of his parishes. Aaron Bianco, former pastoral associate at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, was in a gay marriage, a fact known by McElroy and other parish staff, who defended his continued employment in spite of complaints from parishioners.
Bianco introduced pro-abortion pamphlets in the vestibule and promoted New Ways Ministry, a dissident LGBT group that rejects Church teaching on chastity. The group of faithful Catholics who complained — members of a group that met regularly to pray the Rosary — were targeted by Bianco, who locked the parish doors, forcing them to pray in the parking lot.
An inside source told Church Militant at the time, "St. John the Evangelist was deemed the main test church in the U.S. to focus on the LGBT community."
The test case was a failure, as outcry ensued after Church Militant, LifeSiteNews and The Lepanto Institute reported on the scandal and Bianco eventually resigned and left the parish — but not before falsely accusing Church Militant and other Catholic sites of committing acts of vandalism in his office and slashing his tires (allegations Bianco has never proven and which Church Militant has vigorously denied).
Even so, McElroy remained unrepentant, defending Bianco when the topic was raised at one of McElroy's "listening sessions" last year, berating the woman who brought it up. "[T]he Bishop cut her off, saying, 'Alright, you've gone far enough now. You're not going to stand here and disparage an employee of the diocese," going on to accuse her of "calumny."
Guards rushed her and tried to throw her out — a scene that played out at multiple listening sessions, which were heavily guarded, attendees searched before entering the room and armed security quick to act against anyone who spoke out of turn, forcibly removing faithful Catholics who challenged the bishop, including a 15-year-old girl.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò singled out McElroy in his explosive August 2018 testimony, confirming that Francis had specifically reserved the see of San Diego for one of his own picks — someone Viganò himself had never recommended.
"The appointment of McElroy in San Diego was also orchestrated from above, with an encrypted peremptory order to me as Nuncio, by Cardinal Parolin: 'Reserve the See of San Diego for McElroy,'" wrote Viganò.
"McElroy was also well aware of McCarrick's abuses, as can be seen from a letter sent to him by Richard Sipe on July 28, 2016," the former nuncio added.
McElroy was accused of covering up Theodore McCarrick's crimes when it came to light that the late sex abuse expert Sipe met with him in 2016 and detailed the cardinal's serial sex abuse.
The 13-page letter, dated July 28, 2016 — which Sipe notes was "hand delivered" on August 30 — began: "It was clear to me during our last meeting in your office, although cordial, that you had no interest in any further personal contact. It was only after that I sent you a letter copied to my contacts in DC and Rome."
The letter graphically details McCarrick's years of homosexual predation on priests and seminarians, and the blowback victims suffer who try to go public with the abuse.
One priest was told by the chancery office, "if you speak with the press we will crush you."
Priests or seminarians who speak up about a sexually active superior are threatened with the loss of everything — employment, status, etc. Those who report are greeted with disbelief or even derision if they know but were not personally involved. If they were a partner in the sexual activity and "come out" they become a pariah and labeled a traitor.
I have interviewed twelve seminarians and priests who attest to propositions, harassment, or sex with McCarrick, who has stated, "I do not like to sleep alone."
Sipe noted, "The system protects its impenetrability with intimidation, secrecy and threat. Clergy and laity are complicit."
In spite of these detailed allegations, McElroy said and did nothing. After the revelations about McCarrick were made public in June 2018 and media exposed McElroy's silence and inaction, the bishop issued a statement claiming he failed to follow up because he considered the claims unsubstantiated rumors.
McElroy has close ties to another McCarrick appointee, Chicago's Cdl. Blase Cupich (voted America's worst bishop), who invited McElroy to give the 2018 priest convocation in his archdiocese.
McElroy has proposed that the term "intrinsic evils" be dropped from the vocabulary of the Church, claiming the notion of intrinsic evils is an ineffective guide for Catholic voters. The comments came during the 2016 presidential election, when he stated that bishops should refrain from directing the faithful how to vote.
Instead, McElroy has said climate change should be a "central priority" among Catholics, making the plea in his keynote address June 27 at the "Laudato Si' and the U.S. Catholic Church" conference.
Father Richard Perozich, a San Diego priest who in 2016 published a bulletin making clear Catholics could not vote in good conscience in line with the Democratic Party, was quickly marginalized by the bishop, who forbade the priest from publishing further columns in the parish bulletin.
"I had put other theological opinions in on Islam, sexuality," Perozich, now retired, explained to Church Militant at the time. "He [the bishop] said that these were anti-gay, anti-Muslim."
Consistent with this approach, McElroy was the first U.S. bishop to declare that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics could start receiving the Eucharist, contradicting longstanding Catholic teaching. The move followed a diocesan synod held in spring of 2016 to implement the pope's apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
At the San Diego synod's closing Mass, the bishop said that sometimes "God is asking me to do the opposite" of Church teaching. He also stressed the primacy of conscience as the main factor in making moral decisions.
"Many Catholics tend to think of our moral life as being rule-oriented," McElroy said. "Rules are important primarily as a check on rationalization. The real core of Catholic teaching is and always was a decision of conscience."
And in 2017, McElroy was slammed for calling faithful Catholics a "cancer" in the Church, in an article defending Fr. James Martin, one of the most notorious pro-LGBT advocates in the Church today.
After a rash of speaking cancellations for Martin, McElroy lamented, "This campaign of distortion must be challenged and exposed for what it is, not primarily for Father Martin's sake but because this cancer of vilification is seeping into the institutional life of the church."
"The concerted attack on Father Martin's work has been driven by three impulses," McElroy continued in his opinion piece, "homophobia, a distortion of fundamental Catholic moral theology and a veiled attack on Pope Francis and his campaign against judgmentalism in the church" — thus painting critics of Fr. Martin as enemies of the pope.
The San Diego bishop also dismissed what he sees as an overwrought focus on chastity: "[C]hastity is not the central virtue in the Christian moral life."
McElroy was among a handful of U.S. prelates who endorsed Martin's book Building a Bridge. Others include alleged McCarrick appointees Cdl. Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey and Cdl. Cupich of Chicago, among others.
In spite of overabundant evidence of a homosexual culture in his diocese, which he himself has fostered and promoted, McElroy issued findings after his listening sessions denying any gay subculture.
"I have not witnessed the presence of such a [homosexual] subculture in my three years as bishop of San Diego," McElroy wrote in his column in January, where he also dismissed the notion that homosexuality is linked to clerical sex abuse.
"In 2003, the bishops of the United States asked the John Jay College of the Law, one of the most eminent institutions in our country undertaking research on legal justice issues, to analyze the data on clergy sexual abuse in the Church," McElroy wrote. "Their findings clearly stated that homosexuality was not the substantive source of the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. This is consistent with numerous studies across the spectrum that have concluded that a homosexual orientation does not predispose a man or woman to abuse minors."
McElroy does not cite the "numerous studies" referenced, nor does he cite the statistics revealed in the 2004 John Jay study to which he refers, which revealed that approximately 80 percent of all clerical sex abuse is homosexual in nature. This statistic was corroborated by the U.S. bishops' annual report on sex abuse in 2011, and again in 2016, confirming that victims of priestly abuse are largely post-adolescent males.
A study by the Ruth Institute released last fall shows a near-perfect correlation between the rise of self-identified homosexual priests and the rise in priestly sex abuse. The study was mentioned by Abp. Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, California during his remarks to fellow bishops at their annual meeting in Baltimore in November.
Echoing his friend Cupich, McElroy blamed "clericalism" for the abuse crisis.
"The combination of a misplaced desire to forgive, ties of friendship and a common vocation, and a desire to avoid scandal for the Church are at the core of the sinfulness that has brought us to this moment," McElroy wrote.