“That just isn’t the pattern anymore with Francis; he appoints people from places that never had cardinals before, and that is revolutionary,” the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a senior analyst for Religion News Service who has written books about the Roman Catholic hierarchy, said in a telephone interview. “He looks for the person that he thinks will contribute the best to the church and that supports his vision of where the church should go.”
On Sunday, Francis named prelates from far-flung places, including the Franciscan archbishop of Manaus, Brazil, Leonardo Ulrich Steiner; Peter Ebere Okpaleke, who in 2020 became the first bishop of Ekwulobia, a new diocese in Nigeria; and Filipe Neri António Sebastião do Rosário Ferrão, archbishop of Goa and Daman, India.
Bishop McElroy will be the first cardinal for the Diocese of San Diego and is a longtime supporter of Francis’ pastoral agenda, according to Catholic media. He has also expressed support for allowing women to be deacons and for improved ministry toward gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, an advocacy group for gay Catholics, welcomed the appointment of Bishop McElroy, saying in a statement, “He represents the kind of prelate our church needs, one who will stretch out a hand, not a fist, to the L.G.B.T.Q. community.”
On Sunday, Francis also announced that he would convene all of the church’s cardinals on Aug. 29 and 30 to “reflect on” the constitution that he introduced this year to govern the bureaucracy that runs the Roman Catholic Church.