The Archbishop of Washington is no higher in the Catholic hierarchy than the Bishop of Orange, Kevin Vann. Why should members of the Diocese of Orange care that a new Archbishop of Washington has just been named?
Because the Archbishop of Washington is highly influential, and conspicuously newsworthy… and the last couple of Archbishops haven’t buffed the luster of the Catholic faith in the eyes of either the faithful or non-Catholics. (The last Archbishop was Donald Cardinal Wuerl, who resigned abruptly under a cloud. He was a protogé of former cardinal and now laicized Theodore McCarrick, who also served as Archbishop of Washington.)
Bishop Wilton Gregory currently leads the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Below are news releases from, first, the Vatican and, subsequently, the Archdiocese of Washington.
Vatican: Pope Francis appoints new Archbishop for Washington
The Holy Father appoints Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory, Metropolitan Archbishop of Washington D.C. in the United States.
Up to now Archbishop Gregory has been in charge of the Archdiocese of Atlanta in Georgia. He was appointed Archbishop in December 2004, and took office on 17 January 2005.
The Archbishop, who was born in 1947 in Chicago, Illinois, studied philosophy at Niles College and theology at Saint Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. He was ordained a priest on May 9, 1973 for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
In 1980 Archbishop Gregory obtained his Doctorate in Liturgy at the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant’Anselmo in Rome.
After his priestly ordination, he held the following positions: Parish Vicar of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glenview; Student in Rome (1976-1979); Professor of Liturgy at Saint Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelain, Member of the Archdiocesan Office for the Liturgy and Master of Ceremonies for Cardinals Cody and Bernardin (1980-1983).
In October of 1983 he was appointed titular Bishop of Oliva and Auxiliary of Chicago. He was transferred to the See of Belleville, Illinois, in 1993.
Within the United States Episcopal Conference, the Archbishop has held a number of positions including, President (2001-2004), Vice-President (1998-2001). He is currently Chair of the Committee on Divine Worship.
Archdiocese of Washington: Pope Francis names Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory as New Archbishop of Washington
Pope Francis today named Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory as the seventh Archbishop of Washington. Archbishop Gregory is currently the Archbishop of Atlanta, and will succeed Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who served as Washington’s archbishop from June 2006 to October 2018.
“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,” said Archbishop Gregory. “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.”
“With great joy, I welcome the news that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has favored this local Church with the appointment of Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, as the seventh Archbishop of Washington. I join all who appreciate his pastoral abilities, his intellectual gifts and his leadership qualities,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl who has served as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Washington since last October. “As the Church of Washington opens a new chapter and looks to the future, we can all, with great confidence and enthusiasm, welcome our new shepherd.”
The installation of Archbishop Gregory as the seventh Archbishop of Washington will take place on Friday, May 17, 2019.
Archbishop Gregory’s Biography
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was born December 7, 1947 in Chicago to Wilton Sr. and Ethel Duncan Gregory; he has two sisters, Elaine and Claudia. He attended St. Carthage Grammar School, where he converted to Catholicism. He attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary South, Niles College (now St. Joseph’s College Seminary) of Loyola University and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary.
He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 9, 1973, and three years after his ordination began graduate studies at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute (Sant’ Anselmo) in Rome. There he earned his doctorate in sacred liturgy in 1980.
After having served as an associate pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glenview, IL as a member of the faculty of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein and as a master of ceremonies to Cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernardin, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Chicago on December 13, 1983. On February 10, 1994, he was installed as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, IL where he served for the next eleven years. On December 9, 2004, Pope Saint John Paul II appointed Bishop Gregory as the sixth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. He was installed on January 17, 2005.
Archbishop Gregory has served in many leading roles in the U.S. church. In November 2001, he was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) following three years as vice president under Bishop Joseph Fiorenza of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. During his tenure in office, the crisis of sex abuse by Catholic clergy escalated; and under his leadership, the bishops implemented the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
He has served on the USCCB’S Executive and Administrative Committees, the Administrative Board, the Committee on Doctrine and the U.S. Catholic Conference Committee on International Policy. He previously served as the chairman of the Bishops’ Committees on Personnel, Divine Worship and the Third Millennium/Jubilee Year 2000 from 1998-2001, and Liturgy from 1991-1993.
Archbishop Gregory has written extensively on church issues, including pastoral statements on the death penalty, euthanasia/physician-assisted suicide and has published numerous articles on the subject of liturgy, particularly in the African-American community.
Archbishop Gregory has been awarded nine honorary doctoral degrees. He received the Great Preacher Award from Saint Louis University in 2002; Doctorate of Humanities from Lewis University in Romeoville, IL (2002-2003); Sword of Loyola from Loyola University of Chicago (2004); Doctorate of Humane Letters from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL (2005); Doctorate of Humane Letters from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH; Doctorate of Humane Letters from McKendree College in Lebanon, IL; Doctorate of Humanities from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, MO; Honorary Law Degree from Notre Dame University (2012); and the Chicago Catholic Theological Union Honorary Doctorate from Saint Louis University (2013).
In 2006 he joined an illustrious group of preachers with his induction into the Martin Luther King Board of Preachers at Morehouse College, Atlanta. At the National Pastoral Life Center in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Gregory was honored with the Cardinal Bernardin Award given by the Catholic Common Ground Initiative (2006).
Archdiocese of Washington: Cardinal Wuerl Statement on Appointment of New Archbishop of Washington
Pope Francis today named Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta the new Archbishop of Washington. Archbishop-designate Gregory will succeed Cardinal Donald Wuerl who submitted his resignation to the Holy Father in November 2015 when he turned 75 years old, in accord with canon law.
Cardinal Wuerl’s statement on the news from the Vatican this morning is below:
“With great joy, I welcome the news that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has favored this local Church with the appointment of Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, as the seventh Archbishop of Washington. I join all who appreciate his pastoral abilities, his intellectual gifts and his leadership qualities.
“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 Church of Washington opens a new chapter and looks to the future, we can all, with great confidence and enthusiasm, welcome our new shepherd.”
Editor’s note: yes, Cardinal Wuerl submitted a formal resignation on reaching the age of 75. But he was still serving as Archbishop until October 2018, and likely would have continued serving until a successor was named, without the noxious cloud that engulfed him from his entanglement with Mr. McCarrick.
Archdiocese of Washington: Statements from Auxiliary Bishops of Washington on the Appointment of New Archbishop of Washington
Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville:
“It is with great joy we receive the news that our Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta to be the seventh Archbishop of Washington. This appointment reflects the Holy Father’s love for our local church, for each one of us, and, especially, for our immigrant families in the Archdiocese.
“Archbishop Gregory, our new shepherd, has a long history of pastoral work and dedicated service to the Church in the United States over the past 35 years. We look forward to collaborating with Archbishop Gregory in the development of his ministry within the archdiocese and we pray to our Lord to continue assisting him with His wisdom and love during this time of transition.”
Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr.:
“It is with profound joy that I received the announcement of our Holy Father appointing Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, as the next Archbishop of Washington. Archbishop Gregory brings the pastoral, spiritual, intellectual and political gifts necessary to shepherd the people of God in the Church of Washington, encompassing the seat of government of the United States of America.
“I have come to know Archbishop Gregory over the past two years and have had the good fortune to work with him as a member of the Black Catholic Bishops of the United States. Archbishop Gregory will be able to identify with, and compassionately serve all of the people of this archdiocese, who represent very diverse ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds. I look forward to working closely with him in his ministry of leading and healing all who make up this Church and this community.”
Bishop Michael W. Fisher:
“With gratitude and joy I welcome the announcement that our Holy Father has appointed Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Atlanta as the new Archbishop of Washington. The good people of the Archdiocese of Washington will be well served by Archbishop Gregory’s proven leadership and pastoral care.
“His experience and guidance as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops during the adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People will be essential in our Church’s continued commitment to healing and accountability. The new archbishop will be shepherding diverse and vibrant parishes with zealous and faith-filled clergy and laity ready to assist him in his ministry.
“I offer my heartfelt prayers and support to Archbishop Gregory as he assumes this new leadership position within the Church. I look forward to assisting him in meeting the pastoral needs of our archdiocese. May the Lord Jesus, and his mother, Mary, guide and protect him.”