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  • Writer's picturejohn kepler

Wilton Gregory becomes first Black American cardinal


ROME — Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, became the first Black American to earn the rank of cardinal on Saturday, in a pandemic-altered Vatican ceremony that was strange and historic like none before it. Because of virus travel concerns, two of the 13 new cardinals didn’t come to Rome. The others wore masks and sat in socially distanced rows inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Gregory, like some other new cardinals, had quarantined for 10 days before the ceremony at a Vatican resident building, with meals and towels dropped off at his door.

After testing negative for the third time at his Rome quarters, Gregory’s quarantine lifted Saturday morning. Hours later, he’d received a title that heightens his clout and profile inside the Catholic Church — and makes him one of the papal electors — at a time of fierce American racial inequities and division.

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