Author Topic: New Black Catholic Cardinal announced in Washington DC  (Read 533 times)

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New Black Catholic Cardinal announced in Washington DC
« on: October 25, 2020, 03:32:10 pm »

Pope Francis named 13 new cardinals on Sunday, among them Washington DC archbishop Wilton Gregory, who will be the first African American to earn the coveted red hat and who made headlines this summer when he criticised Donald Trump’s willingness to use religion for political purposes.

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In a surprise announcement in St Peter’s Square, Francis said the churchmen would be elevated on 28 November.

The Washington archdiocese traditionally brings elevation to cardinal’s rank. Gregory, 72, was appointed to that post last year, as its first Black occupant.

His rise to cardinal comes amid increased focus on racial injustice following the police killing of George Floyd, an African American man, in Minnesota in May.


In June, a day after civil rights demonstrators were forcibly cleared from a square to facilitate the president’s visit to an Episcopal church near the White House, Gregory was publicly critical of Trump’s decision to visit to the St John Paul II National Shrine.

“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree,” Gregory said.

Pope Francis was now sending a clear message “in the midst of our nation’s reckoning in systemic racism, as millions assert that Black Lives Matter”, said Johnny Zokovitch, executive director of Pax Christi USA, a national Catholic peace and justice organization based in Washington DC.

“It’s validation of the archbishop’s opposition this past summer of President Trump using the St John Paul II Shrine for a photo op when the president’s policies are so radically contrary to our faith and the teachings of the church.”

The US Catholic church has strong conservative and liberal veins. Conservative prelates have lambasted Francis for his more liberal stands, including his support for same-sex civil unions. His selection of Gregory won praise from LGBTQ advocates.

When Gregory led the Atlanta diocese, he wrote positively about conversations with parents of LGBTQ children. On Sunday an advocate for LGBTQ Catholics, Francis DeBernardo, said choosing Gregory for a cardinal’s post was a signal Francis wants “LGBTQ people to be part of the church, and he wants church people to respect them.”

Gregory has also been a leader in aggressively addressing the church’s sexual abuse scandals and shoring up a zero-tolerance policy. In a statement on Sunday, he said becoming a cardinal would allow him to work more closely with the pontiff in caring for the church.

The pope’s move was also praised by the head of the largest US Catholic community, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, a position Gregory once held.

“Pope Francis is sending a powerful message of hope and inclusion to the church in the United States,” Gomez said. “The naming of the first African American cardinal from the United States gives us an opportunity to pause and offer thanks for the many gifts African American Catholics have given the church.”
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