Wilton Gregory was appointed Washington, D.C.'s first African-American archbishop in 2019.
Pope Francis made a historic move by appointing America's first and only African-American cardinal. According to CNN, the Pope appointed Wilton Gregory as the first black cardinal of the United States of America.
The announcement came on October 25, 2020, after the Pope's Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. Archbishop Gregory is one of the 13 to be elevated to the cardinal position, as per the surprise announcement.
Breaking News: Pope Francis named Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, as cardinal. He would be the first African-American to hold such a position.https://t.co/vSKJ4uC0XQ— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 25, 2020
"With a very grateful and humble heart, I thank Pope Francis for this appointment which will allow me to work more closely with him in caring for Christ's Church," said Gregory in a statement, according to NPR. He will be officially appointed in the ceremony that is scheduled for November 28, 2020.
Over the years, Gregory has served in many high profile positions within the church. He played a major role in guiding the church through the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the early 2000s and became the first African-American to hold the office at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2001.
Pope Francis names Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory first African-American cardinal https://t.co/cmF5kNXn2v— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 25, 2020
After being elected the president of the Conference, he said he saw the election as "an expression of the love of the Catholic Church for people of color." He also stated that he hoped to inspire his community to renew their faith and commitment to the Catholic church. In 2019, the 72-year-old made history after becoming Washington, D.C.'s first African-American archbishop.
Archbishop Gregory has also come forward to address the social issues pertaining to the Black community in the country. When George Floyd died in May 2020, the archbishop stated, "Many of us remember similar incidents in our history that accompanied the Civil Rights Movement, where we repeatedly saw Black Americans viciously brutalized by police on television and in newspaper photos," according to NPR.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory led the U.S. Roman Catholic Church’s response to its sexual abuse crisis and has pushed for better race relations in the church. Here is what we know about the first African-American cardinal. https://t.co/v4LpSi3Gwq— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 25, 2020
He continued, "The horror of George Floyd's death, like all acts of racism, hurts all of us in the Body of Christ since we are each made in the image and likeness of God, and deserve the dignity that comes with that existence."
Being appointed the cardinal, Gregory along with the other elected cardinals have the responsibility to elect a new pope when the Pope dies or decides to step down, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.