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VA | Nov 29, 2020

Pope Francis appoints Wilton Gregory as first African-American cardinal

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

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At a ceremony held at the Vatican on Saturday (November 28), Pope Francis appointed Wilton Gregory as the first African-American cardinal.

The ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica saw the Pope confirming 13 new cardinals who will now wear the scarlett hat called a ‘Biretta’. They now join the College of Cardinals.

Wilton Gregory was the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington DC. Gregory, 72, became an ordained priest at 25. He holds a Doctor of Sacred Liturgy degree.

In 2014, Pope John Paul II appointed the then Bishop Gregory as the seventh Archbishop of Atlanta.

On his appointment by Pope Francis as a cardinal he said it is “an affirmation of black Catholics in the United States, the heritage of faith and fidelity that we represent.”

“There is awareness now of the need for racial reconciliation, an awareness that I have not seen at this level and at this intensity before,” Gregory continued.

Sexual abuses by Catholic priests have been particularly concerning and the cases in Boston brought the matter to the attention of the world.

Cardinal Gregory has been particularly critical of priests who engage in this behaviour. As early as the nineties, he has called for sanctions and condemned sexual abuses by the Catholic clergy.

Washington DC Archbishop Wilton Gregory, now a cardinal in the Vatican. (Photo: Star Tribune Magazine)

He called for and supported a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Raised in Chicago, Cardinal Gregory was scathing of President Trump earlier this year, when he ordered police to clear people away from a Catholic church used for a photo opportunity.

“It was baffling and reprehensible to see a Catholic facility allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated,” he remarked back in June.

“Saint Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings… 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,” Gregory further argued.


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