Vatican introduces first African American Cardinal from US


Wilton Gregory was elected by Pope Francis to be a Cardinal on November 28, 2020. (Photo from Wikimedia)

Christopher Murray '22, Staff Reporter

Nov. 28, Archbishop Wilton Gregory who was nominated by Pope Francis to become a Cardinal. Before Gregory became a Cardinal, he was a bishop, since 1983, and first started with being an assistant Bishop in his hometown, Chicago. 

Gregory’s parents were never Catholic, but going to a  parochial school made him convert to Catholicism. After years of being an assistant bishop, Gregory had a slot open for him to move to Atlanta to become the Archdiocese of Washington, which he did. 

The process of becoming a bishop is based on recommendations of priests and bishops which base them off of what they have accomplished as priests. The way a Cardinal is elected is by the current Pope and Cardinals. 

The Cardinal’s main job is to look for the next Pope, but most of their work is serving as a bishop of the diocese. 

Jimmy Velasco ’17, who is “soon to be last semester of college seminary at Bishop White Seminary in Spokane,” added, “Cardinals are selected by the pope who help to advise the pope in certain matters. They are selected from various parts of the world and are usually bishops that are serving in dioceses. The roles that Cardinals have are to be the popes advisory board.”

For Catholics of color, this is a sign of joy and it also shows just why our Church is so open to different races”

— Jimmy Velasco '17, seminary student

Riordan’s chaplain Fr. Faller said,  “Now Gregory continues to serve as Archbishop of Washington DC and as a Cardinal now, he will he expected to fulfill the role of a bishop which is to be a pastor and shepherd of his people, to help govern, teach, and serve Christ’s flock.  The expectation of every bishop is to authentically pass on the teachings of Christ and to serve his people as Christ served us.”

Velasco added, “I think it is a great sign for the Church here in the US to have our first African American cardinal. This decision is showing the diversity in which we have and shows just how open the Church is in receiving a diverse group of cardinals.”

He added, “For Catholics of color, this is a sign of joy and it also shows just why our Church is so open to different races.”

Today at the age of 72, Gregory has the highest ranking among African American Catholics in the United States.