Pope Francis names first black American among 13 new cardinals in a surprise announcement

WION Web Team
VATICAN CITY Published: Oct 26, 2020, 07:31 AM(IST)

Pope Francis at the window overlooking St Peter's Square. Photograph:( Reuters )

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An outspoken civil rights advocate, Gregory has addressed the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes in May.

Pope Francis said on October 25, that he would raise 13 men to the rank of cardinal, including Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC, who will become the first Black American to receive the honour.

In a surprise announcement from his studio window to faithful standing below in St Peter's Square, Francis said the churchmen would be elevated to a cardinal's rank in a ceremony on November 28.

Wilton Gregory

(File photo: Washington DC Archbishop Wilton Gregory.)

Archbishop Wilton Gregory turns 73 just days after the naming ceremony for new cardinals next month.

An outspoken civil rights advocate, Gregory has addressed the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes in May.

In June, he blasted Trump’s visit to a Washington shrine honouring Pope John Paul II, a day after police and armed soldiers used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear protesters so Trump could be photographed in front of a historic Washington church holding up a Bible.

“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree,” Gregory said in a statement before Trump and the first lady Melania Trump arrived at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine.

Francis asked for prayers so the new cardinals “may help me in my ministry as bishop of Rome for the good of all God's faithful holy people.” The selection of Gregory won praise from LGBTQ advocates in the United States, days after Pope Francis grabbed headlines for voicing support for civil unions for gay couples.

Other new cardinals include an Italian who is the long-time papal preacher at the Vatican, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, who is a Franciscan friar; the Kigali, Rwanda, Archbishop Antoine Kambanda; the Capiz, Philippines, Archbishop Jose Fuerte Advincula, and the Santiago, Chile, Archbishop Celestino Aos Braco.

The cardinals will be installed in a ceremony at the Vatican on November 28. Cardinals are the most senior clergymen in the Roman Catholic Church below the pontiff.

Their role includes electing the pope - the head of the Church - who is chosen from among them at a secret gathering known as a conclave.

(With inputs from agencies)

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