On the hot seat in El Cajon

Crowd peppers San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy with tough questions at "listening session" held at Our Lady of Grace Church

Our Lady of Grace in El Cajon, CA (image from OLG-church.org)

On October 4th, San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy held the third in a series of eight “listening sessions” that he said would “focus on seeking input from people in the pews” regarding the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church and the actions required to heal from the scandal.

A crowd of roughly 300 people filled the parish hall of Our Lady of Grace in El Cajon. The hall was renamed last week after being originally named in honor of Monsignor Thomas Moloney, a former pastor at Our Lady of Grace who was named in the diocese’ 2007 list of priests against whom “credible allegations” of sexual abuse have been raised. 

The evening brought challenging questions for McElroy, several of which addressed the letter written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former papal nuncio to the United States, regarding ex-Cardinal McCarrick and Pope Francis’ handling of the crisis.

One table asked, “You appear to dismiss Viganò’s claims based on your opinion of his character. However, Cardinal DiNardo and some of your brother bishops have called for an investigation of these claims. Will you support this investigation, and what specifically are you going to do to support it?”

McElroy replied that there were two major themes to Viganó’s letter: the first concerned McCarrick and the question of how he came to a position of such power in the Church despite his long history of sexual abuses. The second, said McElroy, was “crafted in a way that was designed to focus all the responsibility on Pope Francis and anyone affiliated with him and to hide responsibility of other people because there was a political agenda.” 

Catholic Bishop Robert Walter McElroy speaks at another “listening session” with the congregation at Our Mother of Confidence in University City. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

An audience member cut McElroy off, saying, “So you’re willing to dismiss the entire rest of [Vigano’s] letter based on what you think his motives were?” McElroy chided the audience member, saying that the session’s format called for one question per table. But the next table stayed with the subject, asking, “How is it that 80 bishops have said we needed an investigation since this latest information came to light…and five were opposed, named in Archbishop Viganó’s testimony. And one of them was yourself. So we ask: why is this?”

McElroy replied that he agrees there needs to be an investigation in the dioceses in which McCarrick had served. Upon hearing this, another attendee shouted, “That’s not true! That is not true that you’re in favor of the investigation. That has not been your statement.” McElroy answered, “I have consistently said in all of these sessions, I’ve said many times before, I think these questions have to be answered. But I’ve also said that that is not a fair-minded statement of Archbishop Viganó; it had an agenda to it which is ideological and aimed at undermining Pope Francis.” An audience member retorted, “Why would he be in hiding if it’s an agenda? He’s in hiding! It’s not an agenda, he’s telling the truth!” Her comment received hearty applause.

McElroy downplays chastity amidst abuse crisis 

The conversation then shifted away from Viganó and toward the role that homosexuality has played in the sexual abuse scandal.  “What is the Church doing to address the issue of homosexuality, specifically active homosexual activity, in clergy?” asked one participant.

Speaking about the importance of priests faithfully living their call to celibacy, McElroy responded, “If I come across an instance where [chastity is not being lived out], then I have to deal very strongly with that; whether it’s homosexual or heterosexual.”

Another table asked, “Could you affirm the church’s teaching that all are loved and welcome, but homosexual actions are sinful?” McElroy affirmed that we’re all called to live out the virtue of chastity, but added — echoing a sentiment he previously expressed in America magazine — “Chastity is not the only virtue, nor is it the most important virtue. The most important virtue Christ tells us is to love our God with all our heart and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And sometimes people reduce individual men and women to one dimension of their life.” McElroy concluded by reaffirming Church teaching that “sexual activity takes place morally only within the context of marriage between a man and a woman.” and that “no person who is homosexual should suffer unjust discrimination because of that – or violence.”

Interrupting the next questioner, a woman interjected, “Bishop McElroy, the reason that we think that you are promoting LGBT is because you use that nomenclature…You use the nomenclature of the homosexual activist agenda…You’re advocating for removing the term ‘intrinsically disordered’ from the catechism with regards to homosexual acts. You’re supporting what’s going on down at St. John the Evangelist, because you came and concelebrated at the ‘Always our Children’ mass last October with Auxiliary Bishop Dolan, and all of the homosexual activists from San Diego were given front row seats.” 

After the woman alleged that the parish of St John the Evangelist had an openly homosexual man “running the show,” the Bishop cut her off, saying, “Alright, you’ve gone far enough now. You’re not going to stand here and disparage an employee of the diocese. You can leave if you’re going to do that. The other things you can say—you cannot attack an employee of the diocese…I owe it to the employees of the Archdiocese [sic] not to let those calumnies be said.”

When asked for his thoughts following the event, participant Chris Sawaya, a parishioner at St. Kieran, said, “[The bishop] clearly doesn’t consider sexual activity among adults to be any of his business, which is disconcerting, considering the elephant in the room is homosexual predation and unchastity among clergy. I think this whole conflict is still missing the real fight. We are seeing the fruit of a 50-year-old rebellion against church teaching on human sexuality. He mentioned that chastity is not the most important virtue. Now that’s a hell of thing to say in the context of this scandal.”

Full story at LifeSiteNews.


  1. Anonymous says:

    It seems obvious that more is needed from the bishop. It sounds like the format is not really allowing everyone to get their questions answered. If you click the link you can read what happened before the meeting.
    There is so much confusion over the Vigano letter.
    I’ve been to these kinds of things and the people who are mad and belligerent take over and the less assertive people never get heard.

  2. If Msgr Moloney was on a 2007 list of credibly accused priests, I have to wonder why it took eleven years to change the name of the parish hall.

  3. St. Christopher says:

    “Calumnies” is it, B. McElroy? The women who asked the question deserved an answer, not a bawling out about your protecting an employee of yours. Your cutting off discussion is precise proof why no Catholic trusts you, or the USCCB, or the Pope.

    • Joan of El Cajon says:

      I’m the one McElroy yelled at. He didn’t like the fact that I mentioned that Aaron Bianco, who is openly homosexual and a member of the dissident group Call to Action, seems to be running the show at St. John the Evangelist in Hillcrest. Other news outlets have reported on the problems at SJE under Bianco, and McElroy’s support for him. See https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/homosexualist-cabal-persecutes-faithful-san-diego-catholics and https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/san-diego-bishop-praises-pro-gay-parish-for-being-welcoming. There was much more I wanted to say to McElroy, but then the guards rushed me and tried to throw me out.

      • Anonymous says:

        Those websites are ‘bad apples”. Not bad people, not bad Catholics, but the way some people react to what they write makes them a bad influence on people. It is not always their fault, but sometimes they write things that aren’t true and they do try to inflame people because they see themselves as warriors and that they are informing other warriors of the battle lines.
        Truth be told, bishops like Cardinal Burke get a lot more outrage than bishops like Cupich or McElroy. Not many Catholics care if a homosexual is employed by a parish. They have a lot more support than criticism.

      • Anonymous says:

        Over 10 years ago, I was in a meeting at Church when the subject of the bishop who would not give communion to those with rainbow sashes came up. No one agreed with his decision and they were honestly disgusted by it. I don’t live in California; we have no gay activism here at all. I’ve never even seen a rainbow flag flown here. For these people, it was simply the issue of how people should be treated.

        • Mchicha Wacheza says:

          How could one approach the Holy Eucharist celebrating a grave and immoral act and expect the Bishop to assist them with Christ in their sin?
          I would be disgusted if they were ‘accompanied’ in their sinful celebration by the Holy Eucharist and a Bishop

        • Did your Lord and Master criticize SIN? Of course. Educate yourself in the Catholic faith, not Cultural Catholicism.

      • Anonymous says:

        How did this work at the listening session? Did you seat yourselves? How does each table decide who asks the question? Is the question agreed on by everyone at the table?

      • Charles Teachout says:

        Thank you for your direct question of the bishop. I see that he side-stepped the issue altogether and chose to attack you for attacking an employee of the parish. Disingenius.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are a brave woman! I congratulate you! This is all a shame! We Catholics must be attentive and alert and must confront these wolves whenever we have the opportunity. They should leave the Church and do no more harm!

      • Blaine Smith says:

        Good on you Joan. The bishop CLEARLY has an agenda he is trying to hide. He doesn’t want to address the truth. He should be removed but with the current liberal pope it will never happen.

  4. Bp. McElroy is the “hapless dupe” who is part of the process which has “rigged” the entire process:


  5. This “brilliant” “Ivy League educated” bishop seems to step deeper and deeper into it with every listening session. By the time we get to #8, he might just give us enough to get him removed.

    When, when, when will our diocese finally get an authentic Catholic bishop?

  6. V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Franciscum.
    R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. [Ps 40:3]

    V. Let us pray for Francis, our Pope.
    R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. [Ps 40:3]

  7. Anonymous says:

    The elephant in the room is homosexuality.
    In San Diego, the elephant in the room is Bishop McElroy + his homo promo agenda.
    There was a lady who attended the “listening session” at St. Joseph (Cathedral) where she asked a question about the homosexuality problem. This lady then attended the “listening session” at Our Lady of Grace. But at the Our Lady of Grace meeting, after she had sat down at a table, she was recognized by one of McElroy’s goons who grabbed her forcefully by the arm, + escorted her out, because “she had already attended a meeting.” She said the meetings were highly controlled. At Our Lady of Grace, the doors where closed at 6:30 (30 minutes before the 7 pm start time) in an attempt to limit attendance…

  8. St. Christopher says:

    Excellent question, “Horace.” The fish rots from the head. Go to the Vatican to begin; good bishops will follow.

  9. Anonymous says:

    All that was missing was a call to make him step down.

  10. Lou Cumming says:

    Talk about censorship – one question per table. That’s outrageous. McElroy really isn’t interested in what the
    laity has to say, period. Good for the folks in East County.

  11. Sienna Sam says:

    Maybe Bp. McElroy should read the following article in this morning’s edition of Life Site news, encouraging the laity to continue their justified anger:


  12. Gary Holtey says:

    I strongly suggest that at the next “listening” session, several people call for him to step down. We need an entire crowd.

    Signs should be prepared to hold up when security starts trying to strong-arm people out of the room.

    Expose these frauds for what they are.

  13. Stella Bella says:

    The thing that is both deeply sad, as well as totally infuriating, is that McElroy, the USCCB, and the Holy See actually believe that the lay faithful are mindless masses, who have no capacity to think for themselves. Moreover, the hierarchy continues to be evasive.

  14. At the next session would someone please ask the bishop if he thinks homosexuality ,whether one is chaste or unchaste, is compatible with the priesthood? Thank you.


  15. Anonymous says:

    The diocese will soon hire Fr. James Martin to do PR damage control.

  16. Here is advice from Msgr. Charles Pope whose advice about the proper channel8ng of anger is quoted in the following article:


  17. Hippo Gus says:

    A lesson for the laity so as not to be fooled by McElroy’s double-talk, deception and misdirection. This applies equally to all clerics, particularly the prelates:


  18. McElroy misnamed the session as “listening session”. He should have called it “Shut up and listen to me” session.

  19. The credibility of our bishops has never been lower as many seek to politicize the collective handling of the decay of Christ’s Church in the U.S. Until the USCCB has a credible spokesman and a credible plan for correcting the many failures of the U.S. Catholic Church, they will not have the support of the laity.

    Right now, the bishops sound like they are “running for office” just like the members of Congress who are trying to get reelected. They are not credible.

    • You ate correct. They sound like they are seeking approval for political expediency, even if their teachings and guidance is direvtly inconsistent with the Catechism and the deposit of faith.


  20. “The appointment of (Bishop Robert) McElroy in San Diego was also orchestrated from above,” says Viganò, “with an encrypted peremptory order to me as Nuncio, by Cardinal Parolin: “Reserve the See of San Diego for McElroy“. McElroy is the fruit of the Homoheresy.

    • Anonymous says:

      What does that even mean? The Apostolic Nuncio does not appoint bishops.

      • No, but normally consults with people in the diocese and sends name to the congregation for the bishops in Rome, which then makes a recommendation to the Pope. In this case, somebody in Rome bypassed the whole process.

  21. Clairassisi says:

    While Bishop McElroy believes that he can dodge bullets, he might be better off in the Chicago Archdiocese, where he might be more comfortable supporting this individual:


  22. Eagle Tom says:

    Has there been any effect as a result of withholding financial support from the diocese?

    • Anonymous says:

      My former pastor said to people who tried to pressure him or show him their anger with threats to withhold contributions- “We don’t want your money.”
      No bishop should allow donors to influence his decisions. You can’t serve God and money.

  23. I used to occasionally make contributions to the Diocese of San Diego, because I had been brought into the Church there and felt I owed them something, although I have lived on the other side of the country for over fifty years. I will no longer so contribute. The Church is still the Church, but there was a lot I didn’t know about its administration way back when.

  24. Mchicha Wacheza says:

    These listening sessions were meant to promote the homosexual agenda if you ask me.

  25. Jim Hazard says:

    The Bishop is correct concerning Vagano’s letters. Much of what Vagano claims with regard to covering up sexual abuse allegations at high levels of the Church are true. What he is exposing with regard to Bishops covering up sexual abuse allegations is righteous but he is letting his dislike of Pope Francis color his judgment.

  26. This Bishop does not deserve to be leading people – we deserve better. People intuitively know in their gut that something is not right here. He cannot properly acknowledge that homosexuality is the root cause of all this heartache, even though its obvious to all. As such, nobody will follow him, and his flock will eventually disappear through a lack of nourishment and care. We will have to suffer this purification for a generation (or several) and perhaps out of the ashes, something good and right will rise.

  27. How can you deal with theological and spiritual issues when you main preoccupation is climate change and immigration? The problem is that this would require going back to Scripture to figure out what went wrong, and to acknowledge that developed doctrine has not developed things.

    • Anonymous says:

      Theological and spiritual issues are what lead to the teachings on climate change and immigration. They stem from the moral teachings of the Church which are based on the 10 Commandments and the teaching of Jesus Christ.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Stop donating to The Annual Catholic Appeal or any collection for the Diocese and when the Bishop runs out of money he’ll get the message. Money talks

  29. Lumping Msgr Moloney with other abusive priests based on one disgruntled woman is wrong. She wrote a bitter letter after his death. It doesn’t make sense. Msgr Moloney wouldn’t care because he is resting in peace

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.