SAN DIEGO — Pope Francis has elevated 21 new Cardinals, with one of those bishops is a San Diegan.

Bishop Robert McElroy has been the head of the San Diego Diocese for decades, and he is now being elevated into the college of Cardinals.

“I’m deeply honored by this appointment, I’m particularly pleased that I’m remaining here in San Diego,” McElroy said.

The liberal-leaning Catholic leader says he was extremely surprised by the elevation and shares the pope’s vision for the future of the softer church.

“More inclusion and outreach to people who have been alienated from the church in the past,” McElroy said. “It’s care for the environment in a particular way and a broad range of social issues in the life of the church and society. And it’s for a more pastoral orientation rather than a strict doctrinal orientation.”

The Cardinal designate spoke about what needs to happen in terms of healing from the sex scandals inside the church.

“We can’t put it behind us, because then we will lose sight of our own sinfulness in this regard in our history and we can only forge real security and safety for young people and a renewal of the church if we keep those in the forefront of our memory,” he said.

McElroy was also asked if he would ever consider being pope.

“I don’t think an American should be pope and I’ll tell you why: In the universal community of the church, the United States still has so much power on so many levels economically, politically, internationally, and to have the pope be American too seems to me a counterpoint to the witness that the church has to continually be giving. So, I would oppose any American being elected pope,” McElroy said.