Bishop Robert McElroy tapped to be the newest U.S. Cardinal; SNAP reacts
(For Immediate Release May 31, 2022)
We hope that Bishop Robert McElroy’s elevation to Cardinal signals a change in the California Catholic landscape. The current archbishops of Los Angeles and San Francisco, whose seniority is now usurped by the new Cardinal, have resisted transparency on behalf of sexual abuse survivors. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone alienates many by refusing to do the bare minimum of publishing a list of abusers from San Francisco. At least San Diego has a list and adds to it.
To be sure, Bishop McElroy has work to do to gain credibility; he ignored the advice of Richard Sipe, an esteemed clergy sexual abuse expert regarding Sipe’s warnings about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In the end, Sipe was right, and McElroy was mistaken. His list is short, as being proven by the lawsuits now piling up.
Now that Cardinal-elect McElroy has been given the red hat, we hope he asserts himself by resolving to do all that he can to bring transparency about the abuse crisis forward: news reports say that nearly 100 new cases have been filed against his diocese and that Southern California now is facing over 500 new cases.
McElroy was ordained in 1979, 43 years ago. It is poetic to us that the typical survivor needs about forty years to report the abuse that occurred. That means that souls damaged around his ordination, as he began his climb to power, were slowly making their way to speaking out. Those voices are just now being heard.
In 1985 Fr. Tom Doyle’s earliest warnings were made to the Vatican and ignored. McElroy himself, while in San Francisco, was the Vicar General and lived with priests who, it turned out, were abusing kids. As Vicar General under the Archbishop (and later Cardinal) William Levada, he surely was dealing with reports of sexual abuse by clergy, and doing the bidding of Levada, a renowned suppresser of the truth who eventually worked for Pope Benedict as the head of the Vatican office in charge of investigating abuse. Benedict himself is now directly implicated in covering up abuse.
Given Cardinal-elect McElroy’s direct experience, we believe and hope that as a Cardinal, a cleric empowered to vote for the next pope, he will use his enhanced power and position to fight for survivors, even if that means exposing earlier secrets, he may have guarded because of his obedience to more powerful bishops and cardinals. He now is among the most powerful voices in the worldwide Catholic church. He should use this opportunity to right some wrongs, including those which he handled. The church's central, ongoing crisis is not too many conservative or non-conservative prelates or too few prelates, it is the continuing clergy sex abuse and cover-up crisis.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)