Published April 4, 2019 | En Español
WASHINGTON, D.C.—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 Wilton 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.”
“I have known Archbishop Gregory for many years and worked with him in a range of pastoral initiatives and programs. He generously shares his talents and his love for the Church,” 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 Tuesday, May 21 at 2 p.m. at St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Cathedral.
The archbishop also addressed his dear friends in Christ in Atlanta:
“In the fourteen years I have served as your Archbishop, it has been my privilege to correspond with you on many occasions–most of it imbued with the joy of serving Jesus Christ as part of this remarkable local Church; some, of course, less so. None up to now, however, has been more bittersweet and challenging for me to write and share with you.”
“This morning Pope Francis appointed me the seventh Archbishop of Washington. While I am humbled and honored by the confidence the Holy Father has placed in me, I regret that it brings to an end this truly blessed moment in my life as your Archbishop. I have asked you for many things during my time in Atlanta, and you have always responded with a boundless generosity of heart and spirit. My final request is for your prayers as I begin anew in Washington, D.C., even as I assure you of my prayers for you in return.”
“Know that I will carry you always in the closeness of my heart. May God bless you and all who are dear to you, and may God bless the Archdiocese of Atlanta!”
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was born Dec. 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, Illinois 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 Dec. 13, 1983. On Feb. 10, 1994, he was installed as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois where he served for the next eleven years. On Dec. 9, 2004, Pope St. John Paul II appointed Bishop Gregory as the sixth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. He was installed on Jan. 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, Illinois (2002-2003); Sword of Loyola from Loyola University of Chicago (2004); Doctorate of Humane Letters from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama (2005); Doctorate of Humane Letters from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio; Doctorate of Humane Letters from McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois; Doctorate of Humanities from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri; 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).
Founded in 1939, the Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 655,000 Catholics who worship in 139 parishes located in Washington, D.C. and the five Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s. Each year, the 92 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese educate nearly 27,000 students. The largest non-public social service organization in the region, the archdiocese and its affiliated agencies, including Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and Victory Housing, provide shelter, food, counseling, medical care, legal assistance, employment training and more to more than 143,000 people each year.