Washington’s new archbishop pledges new era of openness

At his installation mass as the seventh Archbishop of Washington, Wilton Gregory pledged a new era of openness in the Washington, DC diocese.

“I want to be a welcoming shepherd who laughs with you whenever we can, who cries with you whenever we must, and who honestly confesses his faults and failings before you when I commit them, not when they are revealed,” Gregory said.

“We stand at a defining moment for this local faith community.

“Our recent sorrow and shame [in relation to clergy sex abuse] do not define us; rather, they serve to chasten and strengthen us to face tomorrow with spirits undeterred.”

Acknowledging the scandals that have rocked the world Church, Gregory said, “We have been tossed about by an unusually turbulent moment in our own faith journeys recently and for far too long.

“We clerics and hierarchs have irrefutably been the source of the current tempest.”

However, drawing on the image of the apostles’ fear on stormy seas, Gregory said true peace is found by remembering Christ was in the apostles’ boat.

“He invites us to place our trust in Him – not in trite and easy programmes – but in Him and Him alone.”

Despite the pressure of recent scandals, Gregory said he had already received an “affectionate and embarrassingly gracious welcome”.

“The example I wish to set forth for you is that of a man filled with the faith, hope and joy of knowing Jesus Christ is in the boat.”

Gregory thanked Pope Francis for the “righteous challenge – more an opportunity” to carry the Gospel message to the poor, the marginalised and the neglected.

The Archbishop of Washington is considered one of the most influential Churchmen in the United States.

While Gregory, 71, is widely expected to be named a cardinal in the future, it is usual for the pope to wait until the previous cardinal archbishop from the same diocese turns 80 years old and becomes ineligible to vote in a conclave.

The diocese’s former cardinal, Donald Wuerl, will turn 79 in November this year.

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News category: World.

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