An auxiliary bishop in the Roman Catholic archdiocese in San Francisco will become the bishop of the San Diego diocese, the Vatican announced Tuesday.
Robert McElroy, 61, a native Northern Californian with a doctorate in political science from Stanford, will succeed Bishop Cirilo Flores, who died in September of cancer.
Born in San Francisco, McElroy grew up in Daly City and Burlingame in San Mateo County. He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard and then a master's in history and a doctorate in political science, both from Stanford.
He also received a master's in divinity from St. Patrick's Seminary and University in 1979 and was ordained into the priesthood in 1980. He served at parishes in San Francisco, Redwood City and San Mateo before becoming auxiliary bishop in 2010.
The San Diego diocese covers San Diego and Imperial counties, with nearly 1 million Catholics. The diocese has 98 parishes, 46 elementary schools, six high schools and 14 missions. It has more than 200 priests and 200 nuns.
In an article Tuesday in the National Catholic Reporter, which is independent of the Vatican, journalist and author Michael Sean Winters said San Diego has "hit the jackpot" with McElroy, describing him as having a "brilliant mind and the heart of a pastor."
The selection of McElroy, Winters wrote, shows something "about Pope Francis and the process of selecting bishops. An affectation for the traditional Latin Mass may no longer get one into the express lane. An intransigent, culture-war approach to the public square is no longer weighed on the plus side of the ledger, and a pastoral sensibility is no longer seen as a deficit."
McElroy understands income inequality, which is becoming "the defining issue of our political life," Winters wrote.
But on the issue of the church's pro-life stance, "anyone who thinks McElroy is out to downplay the pro-life cause has never had a conversation with him."
For more San Diego news, follow @LATSanDiego.