Pope Francis Appoints First African-American Cardinal

ROME — Pope Francis said on Sunday that Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, would be elevated to cardinal, making him the first African-American to hold such a position.

The archbishop is one of 13 new cardinals announced on Sunday.

For the United States, the most significant elevation of is that of Archbishop Gregory, who led the Roman Catholic Church’s response to its sexual abuse crisis in the early 2000s and has taken over a diocese once led by Theodore McCarrick and Donald Wuerl, two prelates tarnished by that crisis.

Last year, Pope Francis stripped Mr. McCarrick first of his title as cardinal and then of his status as priest, after accusations of sexual abuse against him that the church deemed credible.

Cardinal Wuerl left the position under a cloud of controversy amid accusations that he had failed to prevent abuse decades earlier in his diocese in Pittsburgh.

Archbishop Gregory, who served for years in the diocese of Atlanta, is also a former president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference and considered in line with Francis’ most pastoral and welcoming approach in the church.

The ceremony to install the new cardinals is set for Nov. 28. Nine of the 13 men named on Sunday, including Archbishop Gregory, are under age 80 and therefore eligible to participate in the next conclave to elect Francis’ successor. The new cardinals chosen by Francis reflect his priorities, making it more likely that the college will elect someone like him.

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