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Bishop McElroy Elected President of California Catholic Conference

By Aida Bustos

SAN DIEGO — His brother bishops have elected Bishop Robert W. McElroy from the Diocese of San Diego as the new president of the California Catholic Conference. 

Based in Sacramento, the Conference is the official voice of the Catholic community in California’s public policy arena. It’s composed of the state’s 12 dioceses, representing nearly 11 million Catholics, around 29 percent of California’s population.

The Conference advocates before legislators and the public to advance the Catholic vision of human life and dignity, religious freedom and a concern for those most vulnerable. It empowers Catholics to put their faith into action consistent with Catholic teaching.

The president serves as the principal spokesman for the state’s bishops, and sets the Conference’s priorities working with the executive committee.

The bishops issue frequent statements in support of the state’s most vulnerable populations, including immigrant families and impoverished children.

In the last two years, the Conference has mobilized against a bill that would have required priests to break the seal of confession and one that mandated that all public college campus health centers provide chemical abortion pills at taxpayer expense, among other legislative efforts.

The bishops issued pastoral letters to California’s Catholics on “Caring for our Common Home” and “Hope and Healing, caring for those who suffer from mental illness.”

And the Conference launched a multi-year project called the “Whole Person Care Initiative” to foster an environment where the ill and dying feel loved, worthy and cared for. It was developed in partnership with the state’s Catholic health care systems. The Conference has hired regional directors to implement this initiative, including one that will serve the San Diego Diocese, and has developed a curriculum for healthcare providers and parish leaders to respond to end-of-life issues.

In the last year, the Conference coordinated the Independent Compensation Program for victim-survivors of sexual abuse by clergy from six (arch)dioceses in the state, including San Diego. Bilingual information about this program, and how to file a claim for free, is available at californiadiocesesicp.com.

In their meeting in October, the bishops also elected as the Conference’s vice president Bishop Kevin Vann, of the Diocese of Orange, who previously served as the secretary-treasurer.

Bishop Oscar Cantú succeeds him in the role of secretary-treasurer.  Bishop Cantú was installed to lead the Diocese of San Jose in September 2018.

Officers of the Conference serve three-year terms, renewable once.  Bishop McElroy succeeded Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto, who completed two terms as president.

More information is available at cacatholic.org, and on Facebook and Twitter @CACathConf.

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