Pope Francis Appoints LGBT-Positive Priest as Auxiliary Bishop in San Diego

Pope Francis Appoints LGBT-Positive Priest as Auxiliary Bishop in San Diego

[Hat-tip to PewSitter and Canon212: “CreepChurch: Gay New Prays praises the Francis for adding a San Diego auxiliary ‘with an LGBT-positive record'” (Is LGBT-positive related to HIV-positive?) How will Church Militant spin this?]

May 27, 2017
Robert Shine

Fr. John Dolan, a priest with an LGBT-positive record, has been appointed by the Vatican to be an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of San Diego.

Announcements about Dolan’s appointment repeatedly noted his pastoral work with marginalized people. In the past few years, this work has included ministry with LGBT Catholics and their families.

Dolan has been the diocesan vicar for clergy and pastored two churches, including the welcoming St. John the Evangelist parish in the Hillcrest neighborhood where many of San Diego’s LGBT residents live. Bishop Robert McElroy last year acknowledged the parish as a place where LGBT people have said they “feel particularly welcome” and, according to McElroy, “that’s a very good thing.”

Dolan has described his experiences with LGBT communities at St. John the Evangelist as “an eye-opening experience. . .but also a joyful experience.” These experiences led him to suggest LGBT issues were the “elephant in the room” at San Diego’s 2016 diocesan synod. Highlighting problems in how the church approaches younger Catholics, Dolan commented:

” ‘There are two different forms of doing church. . .One is very dialogical, from a dialogical sense, and the other is from a monological sense. And we have dealt with that monological world: Things come from on high, they get shelved in some pastor’s corner, then there’s some thought that comes down, but ultimately it’s all ‘We’re going to tell you what to think.’ . . .

” ‘Young adults have an acceptance of the LGBT experience. It is simply a part of their world, and they look at us, and say, “What is the problem?” ‘ “

Notably, Bishop McElroy also affirmed the need to address such issues, saying he was surprised at “where the LGBT question would come up” in the discussion section on the spirituality of marriage.” McElroy is himself a Francis appointee.

The pope’s influence on the U.S. episcopate is continuing to grow. Among the “Francis Bishops,” Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky offered scriptural reflections at New Ways Ministry’s national Symposium, and Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich has made repeated positive comments about LGBT people. There are presently eight vacant dioceses, and several dozen bishops approaching the age of mandatory retirement.

The Times of San Diego reported that in addition to his episcopal duties, Dolan will remain at the two parishes he now oversees. He will likely continue to learn from and be moved by the many faithful LGBT Catholics and their families whom he encounters. Hopefully, his new position will enable him to help open wider doors of welcome to LGBT people in San Diego.

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2 comments on “Pope Francis Appoints LGBT-Positive Priest as Auxiliary Bishop in San Diego

  1. Pope Francis names pro-LGBT priest as auxiliary bishop in San Diego

    Dorothy Cummings McLean

    SAN DIEGO, California, May 29, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Last month, Pope Francis named the pastor of an avowedly pro-LGBT Catholic parish as San Diego’s newest auxiliary bishop, to serve under prominent liberal Bishop Robert McElroy.

    Father John P. Dolan, 54, expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis in a statement to the Times of San Diego, and said he looked forward to “accompanying” Bishop McElroy in his ministry to the diocese.

    In November 2016, Bishop McElroy praised Fr. Dolan’s parish, St. John the Evangelist in Hillcrest, for its “welcoming” attitude towards “LGBT worshippers.”

    According to the Times of San Diego, Dolan will continue to serve as pastor at St. John the Evangelist. He will also continue to serve as Vicar for Clergy and as pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish.

    In December, LifeSiteNews reported that the director of young adult ministry at the St. John the Evangelist was an openly gay man who worked for the radical dissident group Call to Action. At the time St. John’s pictured a cross superimposed on a rainbow flag in its social media pages.

    The LGBT activist group New Ways Ministry celebrated Fr Dolan’s appointment on its blog on Wednesday. Associate Editor Robert Shine quotes the bishop-elect as saying, “There are two different forms of doing church… One is very dialogical, from a dialogical sense, and the other is from a monological sense. And we have dealt with that monological world: Things come from on high, they get shelved in some pastor’s corner, then there’s some thought that comes down, but ultimately it’s all ‘We’re going to tell you what to think…’”

    “Young adults have an acceptance of the LGBT experience. It is simply a part of their world, and they look at us, and say, ‘What is the problem?’”

    Bishop McElroy told the San Diego Herald Tribune that Dolan’s appointment is in line with Pope Francis’ emphasis on appointing “pastors” rather than theologians.

    “Less abstraction, and more knowledge of the nitty, gritty of life,” McElroy said.

    Fr. Dolan had the first clue to his appointment when he checked his cell phone in the confessional and saw that he had missed a call from the papal nuncio in Washington D.C.

    “Then I heard, ‘Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” Dolan told the Herald Tribune. “Let me just say, that was the longest hour of confessions I’ve ever had.”

    A lifelong resident of San Diego, the future auxiliary bishop went to local Catholic schools before attending St. Francis Seminary and the University of San Diego. He earned both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology degree at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. He was ordained a priest in 1989 by Bishop Leo T. Maher.

    Bishop Maher was an early critic of pro-LGBT Catholic “Dignity” and forbade his priests from celebrating Masses for the group. Nevertheless during his episcopacy, San Diego was rocked by scandals, including allegations by former seminarian Mark Brooks of homosexual orgies in St. Francis Seminary and his own eventual rape in 1982 by Father Nicholas Reveles. Reveles, who left the priesthood, always denied the story.

    According to New Ways Ministry, the “Francis Effect” can be seen in recent episcopal appointments: Francis appointee Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky participated in the organization’s national symposium, and Francis appointee Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago has said both that LGBT people must “follow their consciences” and that the Church must be open to “new avenues and creativity when it comes to accompanying [non-traditional] families.”

    Stating that “the pope’s influence on the U.S. episcopate is continuing to grow,” New Ways Ministry observes, hopefully, that “there are presently eight vacant dioceses, and several dozen bishops approaching the age of mandatory retirement.”

  2. [Comment from a “conservative” Lutheran Church Missouri Synod pastor]

    Pro LBGTQUEER Priest Appointed Bishop

    Posted by Pastor Peters on 7/21/17

    Sooooo. . . does anyone have any real doubts about the intentions of Pope Francis? It seems that he is moving to change the way the Roman Catholic Church deals with gay Roman Catholics and their families but it is not only a matter of a change in practice. Furthermore, the LBGTQUEER community is not about to be contented with images and wants concrete change — from the regular communion of gay Roman Catholics who are married according to secular rules to the outright approval of same-sex marriages within the Church. Wait and see. . .

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