By Tim Harfmann
Archbishop Wilton Gregory is now one of the most prominent leaders in the American Catholic Church, newly installed as the head of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C..
“I come to this almost indescribably, humbling moment in my life and in my ministry with great gratitude,” he said during his Installation Mass.
He takes over the Church in the Nation’s Capital as its first African American Archbishop, an appointment historically held by cardinals.
And if Archbishop Gregory receives his red hat, he’d be the first African American cardinal in the United States.
Archbishop Gregory has accepted the new position at a time of turmoil. He succeeds Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who resigned after controversy surrounding his handling of abuse cases when he was Bishop of Pittsburgh.
Archbishop Gregory is looking to rekindle the relationship between the Church and the faithful.
“Our recent sorrow and shame do not define us, rather they serve to chasen and strengthen us to face tomorrow with spirits undeterred,” he said during his homily.
With thousands witnessing history inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis’s ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, made it official.
Bishops Gregory Mansour and James Massa say Archbishop Gregory is a great preacher and can inspire Catholics.
“I think Archbishop Gregory is good at helping people to heal, and i think he’ll be good with everyone in the Archdiocese from the clergy to the newly baptized,” Bishop Mansour said.
“We’re really fortunate to have him in the Nation’s Capital, where his pulpit has such a wide audience,” Bishop Massa added.
Archbishop Gregory now leads over 650,000 Catholics in the Washington D.C. Archdiocese.
Worshippers attending the installation are enthusiastic about their new shepherd.
“I just wish him peace and blessings and just encourage him to face all the challenges he’ll have here in washington and across the country,” said one parishioner.
“We wish him well, said another, “we thank him very much for accepting this position, and we look forward to working with him.”