America’s first African-American cardinal on the verge of making history: “I am a symbolic individual”

The arzobispo de Washington, Wilton Gregory, is about to make history: Saturday will become the First African American American Cardinal. Until then, pile up the interviews like a Hollywood star.

The 72-year-old prelate, who is currently in quarantine in Rome, does not seem nervous on the eve of the great ceremony, while speaking by videoconference about the “important choice” that Pope Francis has made by showing “your support for the African-American community“.

I am only one person, but right now I am a symbol individual“, he assures the AFP this Chicago native with a big smile.

Remember, however, that the Father Augustus Tolton, born in Missouri to slave parents in the 19th century and the first African-American priest (ordained in Rome because he was rejected by the seminaries of his country), could be beatified.

In June, the first African-American Archbishop of WashingtonFor 18 months, he did not hesitate to criticize the US president’s attempt to “intimidate” the crowd through religion. Donald Trump had just posed with a Bible in his hand in front of a church next to the White House, the day after the brutal dispersal of anti-racist protesters.

The prelate is also Known for advocating “zero tolerance” against clergy sexual abuse, especially when he was president of the American Bishops’ Conference in the early 2000s.

In this context of scandals hitting the Church, the Holy See has just released a devastating report on the influential ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a former Archbishop of Washington expelled from the priesthood in 2019 after being convicted of sexual abuse of minors and adults.

“A sad report, but important for the future“With a view to reviewing the selection process for bishops, says Wilton Gregory.

Once called the “princes of the Church“On Saturday there will be 13 new cardinals chosen by Pope Francis.

Reflection of the “diversity of the Church”

In almost eight years of pontificate, the 83-year-old Argentine pope has selected the majority of the “cardinal electors“(who will choose his successor) among the prelates often in accordance with their ideas and with less than 80 years.

The Holy Father has endeavored to include in the college of cardinals different races, languages, cultures“Monsignor Gregory congratulates himself.” He appointed cardinals in countries that had never had, clearly wants a college of cardinals that reflects the great diversity of the Church. “

As stated, the new cardinals will kneel on Saturday in front of the pope to receive his cap and ring Cardinal in the sumptuous St. Peter’s Basilica.

Due to the coronavirus, there will be very little audience at the ceremony. The pandemic has also prevented two Asian prelates from making the trip.

Monsignor Gregory traveled to Rome with an assistant, without family or friends, “just happy to participate with him Pope Francisco in a session that will be unusual. “

The future cardinal also has an image of a moderate and a man of dialogue, in an American Catholic Church sharply divided between progressives and ultraconservatives, on many occasions hostile to the pope.

“This must change. The divisions that appear so harshly in public expectation do not correspond to our vocation in the Church“, ditch the archbishop.



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