Robert McElroy
Robert McElroy. Photo courtesy of Archdiocese of San Francisco

Updated 3:20 p.m. March 3, 2015

An auxiliary bishop in San Francisco was named Tuesday to lead the Roman Catholic Church diocese in San Diego.

Robert McElroy, a leader in the Catholic Church’s social justice wing, will be the sixth bishop for San Diego, succeeding Bishop Cirilo Flores. McElroy will be installed April 15 at a Mass at St. Therese of Carmel Church.

McElroy has made economic inequality one of his signature issues, praising Pope Francis’ emphasis on poverty.

Flores died Sept. 6 at age 65 after suffering a series of medical setbacks that included a stroke and prostate cancer. He had taken over from longtime Bishop Robert Brom in 2013.

Msgr. Steven Callahan has been running the San Diego Diocese on an interim basis. He is also the pastor at Saint Brigid parish in Pacific Beach.

McElroy is a fifth-generation San Franciscan who graduated from Harvard University and received a master’s degree in American history from Stanford University.

He addressed the border and immigration issues at his introductory news conference.

“Immigration is the vitality of our nation,” McElroy said. “It’s the source of strength, and its diversity and all of the richness and beauty that make us a people.”

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez called McElroy “a brother and a friend.”

“I appreciate his leadership on issues of poverty and social justice, religious liberty, immigration reform and Catholic values in health care,” Gomez said. “I look forward to working with him to advance the church’s continental mission of the new evangelization here in Southern California.”

McElroy has been in his current position in the San Francisco Diocese since September 2010.

The San Diego diocese, established in 1936, consists of 98 parishes, 14 missions and 90 schools and preschools in San Diego and Imperial counties.

— City News Service