Pope names Washington archbishop first African American cardinal

VATICAN CITY (Axios): Pope Francis said on Sunday he will elevate Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory to cardinal, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The appointment makes Gregory, who has helped lead the Roman Catholic Church’s response to sexual abuse accusations, the first African American to hold such a high position.

Gregory, 72, is one of 13 cardinals the pope announced on Sunday. Nine of those named are under the age of 80, meaning they will be eligible to participate in papal conclaves until they reach the cutoff age.

“The new cardinals chosen by Francis reflect his priorities, making it more likely that the college will elect someone like him,” the NYT notes.

What he’s saying: “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, per the Catholic Standard.

Gregory took over the diocese of Washington, D.C., after Cardinal Donald Wuerl resigned in 2018 amid allegations of covering up sexual abuse scandals.

Gregory is a former president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference and served several years in the diocese of Atlanta.

What’s next: The ceremony to install the new cardinals is set for Nov. 28, but the Vatican has not announced how it will be conducted amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

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