Pope Francis on May 29 named 16 new cardinal electors, including Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, California, along with three Vatican officials and a number of bishops from the global south.

The pope made the announcement at the end of his weekly Sunday Regina Coeli prayer from a window in the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square. Francis said he would install the new cardinals during a consistory at the Vatican on Saturday, August 27.

McElroy, 68, will become the seventh residential U.S. cardinal under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a papal conclave and the fifth U.S. cardinal named by Pope Francis, joining the ranks of Blase Cupich of Chicago; Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey; Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C.; and Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

The other cardinal electors of the United States are Sean O’Malley of Boston; Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston; and Timothy Dolan of New York, all of whom were named by Pope Benedict XVI.

Among the other new cardinal-desigates are Vatican officials Archbishop Arthur Roche, head of the Vatican’s liturgy office; Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, head of the Vatican’s clergy office; and Spanish Archbishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, who governs the Vatican City-State.

Prelates from eight archdioceses around the world will also receive the cardinals’ red hat from Francis, along with five dioceses that are not traditional cardinal sees.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego in October 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

McElroy, who was first made an auxiliary bishop of San Francisco in 2010 and then named bishop of San Diego by Pope Francis in 2015, will be the first cardinal for the Diocese of San Diego.

He has been among the most vocal champions of Pope Francis’ pastoral agenda among the U.S. hierarchy, frequently echoing the pope’s prioritization of environmental concerns, migration and a more welcoming approach to LGBTQ persons.

In 2019, McElroy was one of two Americans to be named by Francis to participate in the Vatican’s Synod on the Amazon region, which opened up discussions on celibacy requirements for the priesthood and the possibility of restoring the ministry of women to the diaconate.

“I’m in favor of it,” McElroy told NCR at the time on the question of women deacons. “My view on it is [that] women should be invited into every ministry or activity we have that’s not doctrinally precluded,” he said.

McElroy’s selection by Francis also comes at a time when the U.S. church has been roiled by debates over whether pro-choice Catholic politicians should be denied Communion, most recently led by Archbishop Salvatore Cordielone of San Francisco, California who earlier this month announced he would bar U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from receiving the sacrament. McElroy, by contrast, has warned against the “weaponization” of the Eucharist for political ends.

His elevation to cardinal means that Francis has once again chosen to pass over the more conservative leaning Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, who heads an archdiocese that has normally been led by a cardinal. Gomez is also currently the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

Cupich, one of Francis’ closest U.S. allies, told NCR that he is “both happy and yet not really surprised,” by the pope’s decision to name McElroy to the College of Cardinals.”He is one of the most gifted bishops in the United States, and I think that his nomination today is a sign of the esteem that he has in the life of the church, which is held by the Holy Father,” Cupich said….

The above comes from a May 29 story in the National Catholic Reporter.