During his recent visit to Rome, Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego gave a wide-ranging, exclusive interview to America’s Vatican correspondent.
In Part II of this exclusive interview, Bishop McElroy says he believes “abortion, climate change and racism constitute the three greatest claims on the consciences of [U.S.] Catholics” today. Responding to a question about Pope Francis’ remarks on EWTN, he said, “It is essential for the leadership of the network to decide whether or not it truly wishes to pursue its mission cum Petro et sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter).”
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Read Part I of Bishop McElroy’s interview here: Bishop McElroy: When bishops increase barriers to Communion, we are not being the pastors Pope Francis called us to be
Gerard O’Connell: We’re moving toward the U.N. conference on climate change, called COP26, in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12. In California, you’ve had fires; elsewhere in the United States there have been hurricanes, floods and so on. All of this highlights the urgent need to address climate change. Do you think the Catholic Church in the United States is adequately involved in this question?
Bishop Robert McElroy: I think we have to have a massive new initiative within the church in the United States on the question of climate change. This means engaging the church at the national level but also at the local levels, too. These national disasters—the fires, the hurricanes, the floods, the earthquakes, the changes in the amplitude and frequency of these events—are signs to us of the reckoning that is coming, and I think the church needs to be on the cutting edge of these questions. And we’re not there. In the United States, we’re not there in terms of effectively witnessing to it as a central element of the Gospel at this moment in terms of public policy.
The continuing failure of the church in the United States to devote concentrated attention to climate change is a tragic reflection of the power of our national culture of climate denial to mute the mandate of the Gospel to care for our common home with a sense of urgency and depth.
I believe that abortion, climate change and racism constitute the three greatest claims on the consciences of Catholics at this moment. Climate change because it involves the future of humanity itself; abortion because of the massive number of human lives involved; and racism because it is the unending wound in American culture and history that continually tears us asunder.
To continue reading this interview with Bishop McElroy, click here.
Gerard O’Connell is America’s Vatican correspondent and author of Inside the Election of Pope Francis. He has been covering the Vatican since 1985.
With thanks to America Magazine and Gerard O’Connell, where this article originally appeared.