United States

Archdiocese of Washington Installs First African-American Archbishop

The Rev. Wilton D. Gregory has been installed as the seventh archbishop of Washington, becoming the first African-American to be placed in the position. 

The 71-year-old Gregory was installed Tuesday in a lavish ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Tuesday afternoon.

Pope Francis announced in April that Archbishop Wilton Gregory would be the Washington archdiocese's new leader after Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who led the capital's Catholics for 12 years, resigned in 2018 after facing criticism for his handling of child sexual abuse cases while archbishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

At the time, Gregory was serving in his fourteenth year as the archbishop of Atlanta. He made history on Tuesday when he was installed as the seventh archbishop of Washington.

Gregory was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1947. He became the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2001, and shortly after adopted a "zero-tolerance" abuse policy to respond to sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.

His stance on the matter is a stark contrast to the embarrassing year the Washington archdiocese has undergone.

First, Theodore McCarrick, who was Washington’s archbishop before Wuerl from 2001 to 2006, was revealed to have allegedly sexually harassed both juveniles and adults while a priest in New Jersey and New York.


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Months later, McCarrick was removed from the priesthood after the Archdiocese of New York found an accusation of sexual abuse credible. He is the first U.S. Cardinal to be removed from the priesthood for sex abuse allegations.

And Wuerl resigned from the position last October after he became embroiled in sexual abuse cover-up claims that date back to his time serving as the archbishop of Pittsburgh. Wuerl has denied any wrongdoing. Pope Francis accepted his resignation, but praised Wuerl for his "nobility" in stepping down.

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