Pope Francis has appointed the first black American cardinal, Wilton Gregory.

The news was announced on 25 October from St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City following the Pope’s Angelus prayer.

According to reports, Gregory is one of 13 to be officially appointed during a ceremony on 28 November.

This is not the first time that Gregory has made history. Back in 2019, he was named the archbishop of Washington D.C., the first black archbishop in the region and the only black archbishop in the entire country.

He replaced cardinal Donald Wuerl in D.C. following an outpouring of public anger surrounding the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal.

As a cardinal, Gregory’s role will be to elect a new pope, should he step down or die.

And Pope Francis confirmed that nine of the 13 new cardinals will be under the age of 80, and therefore eligible to elect his successor.

Earlier this year, in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the rise to prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, Gregory spoke out about the need to improve race relations within the Catholic Church.

Wilton Gregory will be the first black American cardinal. Credit: PA
Wilton Gregory will be the first black American cardinal. Credit: PA

Speaking in August, he said: “Ours is the task and the privilege of advancing the goals that were so eloquently expressed 57 years ago by such distinguished voices on that day.

“Men and women, young and old, people of every racial and ethnic background are needed in this effort.”

This ground-breaking announcement comes just days after Pope Francis announced that he endorsed same-sex civil unions in a new documentary.

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