Pope Francis names first Black US cardinal, Wilton Gregory

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Pope Francis named Washington, D.C., Archbishop Wilton Gregory to become the first Black U.S. cardinal on Sunday.

Gregory, 73, is one of 13 church leaders that the pope announced would become cardinals during a Nov. 28 ceremony.

The pope called for prayers so the new cardinals “may help me in my ministry as bishop of Rome for the good of all God’s faithful holy people,” The Associated Press reported

Gregory earlier became the first Black archbishop for the Washington D.C. archdiocese, a position that usually serves as a stepping stone to be appointed to cardinal, the AP noted. 

Gregory replaced Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who r esigned in October 2018 after backlash from his handling of the sexual abuse crisis while he was in Pittsburgh. Previously, Gregory served at the Archdiocese of Atlanta. 

Francis noted that nine of his new cardinals are younger than 80, making them eligible to elect the next pope, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Gregory’s appointment also comes amid calls for racial justice this year after George Floyd, a Black man, died in Minneapolis police custody in May, sparking nationwide protests.

The archbishop slammed President Trump after the president visited the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington one day after protesters were forcibly removed from outside the White House minutes ahead of Trump’s visit to a nearby Episcopal church. 

LGBTQ advocates celebrated Gregory’s appointment. The archbishop had written a positive column about his conversations with Catholic parents of LGBTQ children, according to the AP.

The announcement of the new cardinals came days after Francis called for the creation of civil union laws for same-sex couples.

Tags Archbishop cardinal Catholic Donald Trump Faith Pope Pope Francis Race Religion Washington D.C. Washington DC

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