Pope Francis appointed the first Black American to the Catholic Church's highest governing body on Sunday (October 26). Wilton Gregory is the archbishop of Washington and will be inducted along with 13 other men on November 28 in Rome. "By naming Archbishop Wilton Gregory as a Cardinal, Pope Francis is sending a powerful message of hope and inclusion to the Church in the United States," Archbishop José H. Gomez said, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Archbishop Gregory has been vocal about Church leaders working to improve race relations, especially as racial injustice and disparities continues to be discussed in the United States. He also noted the importance of having Black figures among Catholic leadership for young Black worshippers.
"Ours is the task and the privilege of advancing the goals that were so eloquently expressed 57 years ago by such distinguished voices on that day," Gregory said during a Mass commemorating the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington in August. "Men and women, young and old, people of every racial and ethnic background are needed in this effort."
He also supports LGBTQ community in the Church and immigration reform. The upcoming cardinal was also a commissioner of a climate action plan for Catholics at Church and at home to protect the environment.
Gregory is also among the nine out of 13 newly elected cardinals to be under the age of 80. That makes them eligible to participate in the next convocation to elect Francis' successor. "The new cardinals chosen by Francis echo his ideas, making it probable that the college will elect someone like him," CBS News said. The Vatican has yet to announce any COVID-19 related changes to the cardinal ceremony.
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