By Mark Zimmermann Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Cardinal-designate Wilton D. Gregory, installed as Washington’ s archbishop in May 2019, thanked Pope Francis “with a very grateful and humble heart” for naming him as one of 13 new cardinals Oct. 25.
“This appointment which will allow me to work more closely with him in caring for Christ’s church,” he said in a statement issued shortly after the pope announced new cardinals at the end of his Angelus address.
Cardinal-designate Gregory will be the first African American cardinal from the United States to be elevated to the College of Cardinals. He and the other 12 prelates will to be elevated at a Nov. 28 consistory at the Vatican.
Nine of the new cardinals are under age 80 and will be eligible to vote in a conclave; four elderly churchmen will receive red hats as a sign of esteem and honor.
In addition to Cardinal-designate Gregory, the pope chose as cardinal electors two officials of the Roman Curia and bishops from Italy, Rwanda, the Philippines, Chile and Brunei.
“Pope Francis is sending a powerful message of hope and inclusion to the church in the United States” by naming Washington’s African American archbishop as a cardinal, said Los Angeles José H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“As a former president of our national bishops’ conference, (Cardinal-designate) Gregory displayed generous and principled leadership. 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,” Archbishop Gomez said in statement.
He asked the nation’s Catholics to join him “in praying for the continued ministry” of the newly named cardinal, who was USCCB president from 2001 to 2004.