Former Atlanta Catholic Archbishop Wilton Gregory: Things to know

Pope Francis has named Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory as the new archbishop of Washington. Gregory has served as archbishop in Atlanta since 2005. Archbishop-designate Gregory will succeed Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Cardinal Donald Wuerl served from June 2006 to October 2018. Gregory is a native of Chicago and the only living African American archbishop.

Gregory was named one of 13 new cardinals by Pope Francis

Pope Francis named 13 new cardinals in October, including former Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who is the current archbishop of Washington, D.C.

Gregory will become the first Black U.S. prelate to earn the coveted red hat. A ceremony is planned on Saturday, Nov. 28 in Rome.

He previously was a leader of the Catholics in Atlanta and North Georgia beginning in 2005, moving from the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois. Last year, Francis selected Gregory to lead the prestigious diocese in the U.S. capital.

Wilton Daniel Gregory is 72 (born Dec. 7, 1947). He is from Chicago and was ordained a Catholic priest there in 1973, according to the Atlanta Catholic website, archatl.com.

The Atlanta Archdiocese

The Atlanta archdiocese covers 69 North Georgia counties, including Athens and all of metro Atlanta. It covers an area with an estimated 1.2 million Catholics in 103 parishes and missions, according to the church.

Past Leader of U.S. Bishops

 Archbishop Wilton Gregory offers a blessing to first responders at the Cathedral of Christ the King.  BOB ANDRES  / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Archbishop Wilton Gregory offers a blessing to first responders at the Cathedral of Christ the King. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Gregory was president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001-2004. During his term, in June 2002, the bishops implemented the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," which lays out a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, according to the USCCB website. It also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and prevention of future acts of abuse.

The charter has been revised since its original publication, most recently in 2018.

Catholic church sex abuse cases

Gregory has written and spoken about the church's response to sex abuse allegations. In August 2018, he wrote an open letter to Atlanta Catholics following a Pennsylvania grand jury report that outlined decades of sexual abuse by priests and cover-ups by church authorities.

All Catholics, he wrote, “including so many good and generous priests, are rightly angered, confused, and embarrassed by this testimony that the leadership of the church failed to care for our people with compassion and honesty.”

— AJC reporter Shelia M. Poole and AJC archives contributed to this article.

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