Orange County auxiliary bishop named Catholic bishop of San Diego
Cirilo Flores, auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Orange County, will become bishop in San Diego next year upon the retirement of Bishop Robert Brom, church officials announced Wednesday.
Flores, 63, who has been auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Orange for three years, will become coadjutor bishop in San Diego immediately.
The decision to elevate Flores was made by Pope Benedict XVI. The announcement was made by the Vatican and the Diocese of San Diego, which spans Imperial and San Diego counties. The diocese is responsible for a Catholic population of 982,000, 99 parishes and 53 Catholic schools.
Flores was born in Corona and graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Stanford Law School. He practiced law for a decade before entering St. John's Seminary in Camarillo in 1986. He was ordained a priest in the diocese of Orange in 1991.
He has served on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' subcommittees on Latin America and Latino affairs. He is chairman of the California Conference of Catholic Bishops' committee on religious liberty.
"I ask God's grace that I may be a good shepherd sharing the good news of God's mercy and love," Flores said in a statement released by the church. "As I begin my ministry in the diocese of San Diego, I ask for your prayers; I assure you of mine."
Brom, who will be 74 in September, was named San Diego bishop in 1990 after a year as coadjutor to Bishop Leo Maher. From 1983 to 1989, he was bishop of the Diocese of Duluth in Minnesota.
Unlike Maher, Brom has kept a low profile, rarely making public pronouncements on controversial topics. During protracted negotiations with lawyers for victims of sexual abuse by priests, the San Diego diocese filed for bankruptcy.
In 2007 the diocese agreed to a $198 million settlement with 144 victims. The settlement was second only to a $764-million settlement made by the Los Angeles Archdiocese to settle similar claims.
"Once again, I apologize to victims of abuse by ministers of the church in the diocese of San Diego," Brom said in a written statement when the settlement was announced. "I apologize, as well, to their families and friends who have been affected by these crimes and this abuse of power.
"I am very, very sorry for the suffering we have caused them, and I pray that they will walk with God for a renewed life."
--Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Cirilo Flores, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange, at an All Souls Day Mass at the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in 2010. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times