Archbishop Wilton Gregory to Become First African-American Cardinal

Photo Courtesy of The Archdiocese of Washington

Angela Hickey

Pope Francis recently named Archbishop of Washington and Catholic University Chancellor Wilton Gregory a Cardinal. In receiving this honor, Archbishop Gregory will become the first African American Cardinal in the history of the Catholic Church.

Gregory was ordained a priest in Chicago on May 9, 1973, and from that point on, he has continued to become an inspiring member of the Catholic Church. He has had many achievements in the Church, including being elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), as well as previously serving as the chairman of the Bishops’ Committees on Personnel, Divine Worship and the Third Millennium/Jubilee Year 2000 from 1998-2001, and Liturgy from 1991-1993.

Gregory has served CUA as a member of the Board of Trustees for the past 14 years and became Chancellor of CUA in 2019. Since then, he has dutifully served the school and its students and has represented the University in relation with the Holy See (the Vatican), and in particular the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The Archbishop has never strayed away from sensitive subjects, writing extensively on topics ranging from the death penalty to euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide. He has also published numerous articles on the subject of liturgy, particularly in the Black community.

The announcement of Gregory’s new role as Cardinal was received very well by many members of the Catholic Church and has been described by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as “a powerful message of hope and inclusion to the Church in the United States.”
In an interview done by The Catholic Standard, Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – of which Gregory is chairman of the Board of Trustees – had much to say about Gregory’s recent achievement.

“On behalf of the priests, religious, and staff of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, I am pleased to offer heartfelt congratulations to Cardinal-designate Gregory on his elevation to the College of Cardinals,“ said Rossi.

Many others have expressed similar sentiments when asked about Gregory’s recent success, including Catholic University President John Garvey.

“We are proud of our Chancellor; we pray for his safe travels to Rome and many years as a leader in the Church and our University,” said Garvey in an email congratulating Gregory on his success. 

It is unknown as to when Gregory will be officially ordained in light of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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