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Cardinal Gregory’s vision: protect, care for and strengthen the flock

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Cardinal Gregory’s vision: protect, care for and strengthen the flock

On Saturday afternoon, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington DC became Cardinal Wilton Gregory. At that moment, he also became the first African-American Cardinal.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

In an interview with Vatican News shortly after knowing of his appointment by Pope Francis to the College of Cardinals, the future Cardinal spoke about how he has been shaped by a “wonderful legacy of faith”. And rather than drawing attention to himself as the first African-American Cardinal, he pointed to his ethnic forebears who are up for canonization. In that interview, Cardinal-elect Gregory said “We’ve produced holy, generous, zealous Catholics from our cultural and racial tradition. And I hope they get more attention in many respects than I do because their contribution to the life of the church is already a proven treasure.”

What he foresees will change

What was then still a possibility has now become a reality. Archbishop Wilton Gregory is now Cardinal Wilton Gregory. In a consistory that lasted just under an hour, attended by roughly 100 members of the faithful in St. Peter’s Basilica, he joined the ranks of 229 other men who are among the Pope’s closest advisors, 128 of whom have the capacity to elect a future Pope.

Cardinal Gregory told Vatican News that his being a Cardinal will not affect his ministry as Archbishop of Washington, DC. His daily life will still be filled with meetings, and visiting parishes, he said.

“While I will be a member of the College of Cardinals, when I’m in Washington and engaged in my pastoral service, I will be the Archbishop of Washington.”

True to form, he instead hopes that what will change is the intensity of “the affection and the devotion of the people of the Archdiocese of Washington for Pope Francis and his Petrine Ministry.”

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