For the first time since 2002, what’s now a 1.3 million-member fold in San Diego has a new auxiliary bishop. But if anyone’s expecting a clone of the last one, well, have we got news for you.
Six weeks since Bishop Robert McElroy electrified progressive activists (and infuriated conservatives) with a fiery address at a national summit on social justice, at Roman Noon this Wednesday, the Pope bolstered the SoCal prelate’s arsenal with the appointment of Fr John Dolan, 54 – the “pastor to the priests” as McElroy’s vicar for clergy, likewise serving at the helm of two city parishes – as the first of two requested deputies for the border diocese.
According to Whispers ops, the choice of a second San Diego assistant prelate remains in process. As previously reported here, the Padres’ Country picks are just part of a flood of auxiliaries to be named across the Stateside church over the next year.
Dolan’s appointment marks the second time a SoCal clergy chief with an extensive history in parishes has been named a hometown auxiliary in recent months. Much like the first, Orange’s Bishop Tim Freyer, today’s pick is widely regarded among the brothers as a warm, dedicated pastor with a fluency in Spanish and an overtime work-ethic that extends to a number of other ministries – in Dolan’s case, a longtime commitment to refugees and the church’s outreach on mental health issues among others. Yet where the celebrated “Mini-Vann” to the north is more laid-back in terms of the spotlight, McElroy’s protege has already taken to making a splash on the wider scene.
After last October’s opening round of a newly-devised San Diego Synod – a Francis-inspired consultation on family life and its optimal accompaniment in a post-Amoris church – Bishop-elect Dolan sketched two kinds of of ecclesial life in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter….
“There are two different forms of doing church,” he said. “One is very dialogical, from a dialogical sense, and the other is from a monological sense. And we have dealt with that monological world: Things come from on high, they get shelved in some pastor’s corner, then there’s some thought that comes down, but ultimately it’s all ‘We’re going to tell you what to think.'”
Given his current experience as pastor of a “welcoming parish” in the city’s gay and lesbian district, the incoming auxiliary (right) likewise remarked that “Young adults have an acceptance of the LGBT experience. It is simply a part of their world, and they look at [the church], and say, ‘What is the problem?’”
Of course, it’s one thing when zingers of the kind are made by a parish priest or even a diocesan official. Yet with today’s nod, it’s a whole new ballgame – put another way, the US’ episcopal discourse is further set a-Blase.
Far from any burning issues, however, behind the scenes in this shop, Dolan is simply known as one of us – a donor to [Whispers in the Loggia] through the years, and someone to whose kindness and generosity of time and encouragement this scribe can gladly (and gratefully) attest.
Full story at Whispers in the Loggia.