ROME — The world’s press has a lot of questions for Cardinal Robert McElroy.
In the day before the consistory, the Vatican Press Office organized a two-hour “media availability” for reporters to talk to the 20 cardinals-designate.
By far, the largest group, about 25, wanted to interview Bishop McElroy. They included U.S.-based companies and foreign ones, and Catholic as well as secular media. Among them were American TV networks, Associated Press, Reuters, and news services from France, Spain, Argentina, Ireland and Al Jazeera.
The questions were similar.
What would the new cardinal do?
He would begin by stating that his main job was to serve as the bishop of San Diego, and that he expected to continue to spend most of his time in that role.
He said he expected to help build unity within the Universal Church, stressing that local dioceses needed to see their role not just through a parochial lens but a global one. He acknowledged that this view would be a particular challenge for the U.S. Church.
Many questions focused on the issue of polarization within the U.S. Church.
First, dioceses were experiencing it in different ways, he said. In San Diego, polarization was largely not an issue in the Latino, Filipino and Vietnamese communities, which constituted the majority of the faithful, he noted.
He said that polarization was a problem in society, not solely a Church problem, and that the Church had to listen to those who felt alienated and work to address their wounds.
“Everyone in the Church is wounded in some way,” he said, referring to Pope Francis’ image of the Church as a field hospital. “Everyone is needing the grace of God. And so, we are all healers and we are all being healed.”
How did he see the state of the Catholic Church?
“This is a wonderful moment in the life of the Church to be called to this ministry,” he said. “The Church is in the process of renewal, striving to listen to all voices, particularly those on the margins.”