Pope names D.C. Archbishop Gregory as first Black cardinal in US

Wilton Gregory, the archbishop in Washington, D.C., will become a cardinal on Nov. 28, Pope Francis announced Sunday. Photo courtesy Vatican News

Oct. 26 (UPI) — Pope Francis plans to elevate 13 men as cardinals, including Wilton Gregory, 72, of Washington, D.C., becoming the first Black American prelate to wear the red hat.

Francis made the announcement Sunday morning from his studio window to faithful in St. Peter’s Square. The men will be installed on Nov. 28 in a ceremony.

Gregory, who was born in Chicago in 1947, became archbishop in May 2019 in Washington after serving as archbishop in Atlanta from 2005 to 2019. He served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001 to 2004.

Nine of the newly named cardinals are younger than 80, meaning they can participate in a future conclave.

Two of the cardinals work in the Roman Curia: Maltese Mario Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, and Italian Marcello Semeraro, former Bishop of Albano and the new prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints.

Five other pastors are: the archbishop of Kilgali, Rwanda, Antoine Kambanda; the archbishop of Capiz, in the Philippines, Jose Fuerte Advincula; the archbishop of Santiago, Chile, Celestino Aós Braco; the apostolic vicar of Brunei, Cornelius Sim; and the archbishop of Siena, Italia, Augusto Paolo Lojudice.

Francis also has appointed the current guardian of the Franciscan Sacro Convento in Assisi, Mauro Gambetti.

The four who are at least 80 are: Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, archbishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas in Mexico; former Apostolic Nuncio Silvano Tomasi, the former permanent observer at the United Nations in Geneva, who then worked in the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development; Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal Household; and the pastor of the Shrine of Divine Love, Father Enrico Feroci.

Cardinals wear the color red, which indicates their willingness to sacrifice themselves.

In June, Gregory strongly criticized President Donald Trump’s visit to the John Paul II Shrine in Washington during clashes between police and protesters.

“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree,” he said.

“St. Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings. His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth. He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace,” he added.


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