Pope Francis has named Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta as the new archbishop of Washington.
The appointment was announced today in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican nuncio to the United States.
Archbishop Gregory, 71, a former president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who helped navigate the conference through the clergy sexual abuse crisis in 2002, is the first African American to be named to head the Washington Archdiocese.
He succeeds Cardinal Donald Wuerl, whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis in October, nearly three years after he turned 75, the mandatory retirement age for bishops. Cardinal Wuerl continued as apostolic administrator until his successor was named. The cardinal headed the Washington Archdiocese from 2006 to 2018.
Archbishop Gregory will be installed as the seventh archbishop of Washington May 17.
“I am deeply grateful to Pope Francis for this appointment to serve the Archdiocese of Washington and to work with all of the members of this faith community,” Archbishop Gregory said. “I look forward to encountering and listening to the people of this local church as we address the issues that face us and continue to grow in the love of Christ that sustains us.”
Cardinal Wuerl welcomed his successor’s appointment “with great joy.”
“I join all who appreciate his pastoral abilities, his intellectual gifts and his leadership qualities,” he said in a statement. “I have known Archbishop Gregory for many years. In working with him on a range of pastoral initiatives and programs, I have come to recognize how generously he shares his talents and his love for the Church.”
As the Washington Archdiocese “opens a new chapter and looks to the future”, Cardinal Wuerl added, “we can all, with great confidence and enthusiasm, welcome our new shepherd”.
Archbishop Gregory has served in Atlanta since 2005. He previously was bishop of Belleville, Illinois, for 11 years, beginning in 1994. He was named auxiliary bishop of Chicago in 1983.
Catholic News Service