First black American cardinal appointed

first black American cardinal

Washington D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory will be the first black American cardinal.

He was one of 13 new cardinals announced by Pope Francis at the end of his Angelus address on October 25th.

Nine of the new appointees are under the age of 80. They will be eligible to vote in a papal conclave along with 119 other cardinals. The other four churchmen will wear their red hats as a sign of esteem and honour.

Along with Gregory from the USA, the pope chose as cardinal electors two officials of the Roman Curia and bishops from Italy, Rwanda, the Philippines, Chile and Brunei.

The 72-year-old Gregory, ordained in his native Chicago in 1973, took over leadership of the capital’s archdiocese last year after serving as archbishop of Atlanta since 2005.

Gregory has been praised for his handling of the sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the church.

He helped shape the church’s “zero tolerance” response to the sexual abuse scandal while serving as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001 to 2004.

Gregory has also spoken recently about the importance of Catholic leaders working to combat the sin of racial discrimination. The Washington D.C. archdiocese has created an anti-racism initiative under his leadership, offering focused prayer and listening sessions.

Additionally, Gregory has drawn notice for his more inclusive treatment of LGBTQ Catholics. In 2014, he wrote an encouraging column about his conversations with a group of Catholic parents of LGBTQ children.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which represents LGBTQ Catholics, said his group is “very excited” to see Gregory’s elevation and connected it back to Francis’ recently reported comments supporting civil unions for same-sex couples.

Recently the outspoken Gregory made headlines for issuing a statement critical of President Donald Trump’s visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine.

That visit came just one day after the president made his controversial visit to an Episcopal church in Washington. This is where demonstrators were forcefully cleared to facilitate Trump’s photo opportunity.

Gregory commented that he considered “it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated.”

The consistory confirming the appointments will be held in late November. The details of the event are yet to be announced.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions on travel and gatherings, a non-traditional consistory may be organised.

The full list of the new cardinals, in the order named by the pope:

  • Bishop Mario Grech, 63, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.
  • Bishop Marcello Semeraro, 72, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.
  • Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda, who will turn 62 Nov. 10.
  • Archbishop Gregory, 72.
  • Archbishop Jose F. Advincula of Capiz, Philippines, 68.
  • Archbishop Celestino Aos Braco of Santiago, Chile, 75.
  • Bishop Cornelius Sim, apostolic vicar of Brunei, 69.
  • Archbishop Paolo Lojudice of Siena, 56.
  • Father Mauro Gambetti, custos of the Sacred Convent of Assisi in Assisi, who was to celebrate his 55th birthday Oct. 27.
  • Retired Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, 80.
  • Retired Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, a former nuncio, 80.
  • Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, 86.
  • Father Enrico Feroci, 80, former director of Rome’s Caritas.



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