Pope Francis Appoints First Black Cardinal Chicago-Native Wilton Gregory

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Pope Francis appointed 13 new cardinals on Sunday, at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.  Archbishop of Washington D.C., Wilton Gregory,72, became the first-ever appointed to America’s Catholic Church’s highest governing body on Oct. 26, 2020.

Pope FrancisGregory was born in Chicago,  Illinois, and ordained a priest in 1972. He served as the associate pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glenview, a faculty member at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein and he was also a master of ceremonies to Cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernardin in 1973, that same year, he became an auxiliary bishop in Chicago.

In 1994, he worked as the bishop of Belleville. In early 2000, he guided the Catholic Church through its clergy sexual abuse crisis. Then in 2004, he was a bishop in Atlanta. In 2019, he went to Washinton D.C. to serve as a bishop.

He was the first American elected to the College of Cardinals since 2016. The Catholic Church has always excluded Blacks from positions of power.  Since he was among 13 chosen by Pope Francis and the first and only Black gives many people hope for racial equality.

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a Cardinal’s job consists of electing a new pope if he decides to step down. The red that they wear represents their willingness to sacrifice themselves to the point of shedding their own blood in the service of the successor of Peter. The ceremony to place the new cardinals will take place on Nov. 28, 2020.

Written by Jessica Letcher
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware


Chicago Sun-Times: Pope Francis appoints America’s first African American cardinal, Chicago-native Wilton Gregory; Frances D’Emilio

The New York Times: Pope Francis Appoints First African-American Cardinal; Elizabeth Dias and Jason Horowitz

CNN: Pope Francis appoints America’s first Black cardinal, Wilton Gregory; Kelly Murray

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