On Sunday, Pope Francis has named 13 new cardinals including Washington DC Archbishop Wilton Gregory, becoming the first Black American to become a cardinal. This came as a surprise announcement made from his studio window looking out to St Peter’s Square. All of these churchmen will earn a red hat on November 28.
Gregory, 73, was born in Chicago and had been ordained as a priest in the city in 1973. Last spring, Gregory was named as the archbishop of D.C. and became the first Black American to take a position with such a level of influence in the US Church. D.C. archbishops typically become cardinals, according to Post. But Gregory will become the first Black American to step into the role which marks a symbolic first for church leadership.
The selection of Mr Gregory won praise from LGBTQ advocates in the US, days after the pontiff voiced support for civil unions for gay couples. When Mr Gregory headed the Atlanta diocese earlier in his career, he wrote positively in a column about his conversations with Catholic parents of LGBTQ children.
This summer, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd , Gregory joined eight bishops in writing a letter acknowledging the Church’s “sins and failings” as it pertains to racial justice. The letter said “prayer and dialogue, alone, are not enough,” and affirmed the Bishops’ support of policies including access to health care, prison reforms, housing anti-discrimination reforms, and juvenile justice reforms.