Pope names first African American cardinal from U.S.


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By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY  — Pope Francis announced he will create 13 new cardinals Nov. 28, including Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington.

The pope made the announcement at the end of his Angelus address Oct. 25, telling the crowd in St. Peter’s Square the names of the nine cardinals under the age of 80, who will be eligible to vote in a conclave, and the names of four elderly churchmen whose red hats are a sign of esteem and honor.

In addition to Cardinal-designate Gregory, who will be the first African American cardinal from the United States, the pope chose as cardinal electors two officials of the Roman Curia and bishops from Italy, Rwanda, the Philippines, Chile and Brunei.

In a statement released shortly after the announcement, Cardinal-designate Gregory said, “With a very grateful and humble heart, I thank Pope Francis for this appointment which will allow me to work more closely with him in caring for Christ’s Church.”

A few hours later, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also issued a statement.
“By naming Archbishop Wilton Gregory as a Cardinal, Pope Francis is sending a powerful message of hope and inclusion to the Church in the United States. As a former president of our national bishops’ conference, Archbishop 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. Please join me in praying for the continued ministry of Archbishop Gregory.”

Once the consistory is held in late November, there will be 128 cardinals under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave. Pope Francis will have created just over 57% of them. Sixteen of the cardinals created by St. John Paul II will still be under 80 as will 39 of the cardinals created by Pope Benedict XVI; Pope Francis will have created 73 of the electors.

U.S. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, retired archbishop of Washington, will celebrate his 80th birthday Nov. 12, before the consistory. Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom the pope dismissed as prefect of the congregation for saints in late September, is 72 but renounced the rights of a cardinal, including the right to enter a conclave to elect a new pope.

Italians will continue to have an outsized portion of the electors, rising to 22 of the 128; the United States will stay at nine voters with Cardinal-designate Gregory taking Cardinal Wuerl’s place.

Here is the full list of the new cardinals, in the order named by the pope:

  • Maltese Bishop Mario Grech, 63, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.
  • Italian Bishop Marcello Semeraro, 72, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.
  • Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda, who will turn 62 Nov. 10.
  • Archbishop Gregory, 72.
  • Archbishop Jose F. Advincula of Capiz, Philippines, 68.
  • Archbishop Celestino Aos Braco of Santiago, Chile, 75.
  • Bishop Cornelius Sim, apostolic vicar of Brunei, 69.
  • Italian Archbishop Paolo Lojudice of Siena, 56.
  • Franciscan Father Mauro Gambetti, custos of the Sacred Convent of Assisi in Assisi, who was to celebrate his 55th birthday Oct. 27.
  • Retired Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, 80.
  • Retired Italian Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, a former nuncio, 80.
  • Italian Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, 86.
  • Italian Father Enrico Feroci, 80, former director of Rome’s Caritas.
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