Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington D.C., has made history by becoming the first Black American cardinal.
On Saturday, Pope Francis elevated 13 new cardinals to the highest rank in the Catholic hierarchy during an installation ceremony in Rome at St. Peter’s Basilica, according to Vatican News.
Ahead of the ceremony, Gregory, 72, said his appointment is “an affirmation of Black Catholics in the United States, the heritage of faith and fidelity that we represent.”
“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,” Gregory said in a statement in October.
Gregory, who was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1973. Last year, he was picked by Pope Francis to lead the Washington D.C. archdiocese. Gregory made headlines in July when he condemned President Trump’s visit to the St. John Paul II National Shrine, a day after he posed with a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church amid Black Lives Matter protests.
“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 in a statement at the time.
Gregory told CNN last week he has been prayerful and thanking God amid his new role.
“It’s been a time to thank God for this unique moment in my life and in the life of the church in the United States,” Gregory said. “I hope it’s a sign to the African American community that the Catholic Church has a great reverence, respect and esteem for the people, for my people of color.”