November 28, 2020
By Christopher White
When Pope Francis needed someone to help heal Catholics in the nation’s capital recovering from the latest round of clergy sex abuse that had engulfed now former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, he tapped Archbishop Wilton Gregory as its new leader in April 2019.
This January, when Joe Biden becomes only the second Catholic president in U.S. history, the politician who pledged to heal America amid a global pandemic, economic dislocation and a racial reckoning will have Gregory as his local pastor.
Both men have been put in their positions with a mandate for reconciliation and are united by a shared admiration for Pope Francis who on Saturday elevated Gregory to the Catholic Church’s College of Cardinals, making him the first African American to receive the honor.
Gregory’s new title is more than mere symbolism. While it will increase his collaboration with the pope and his profile among the U.S. Catholic hierarchy, it also presents him with a rare opportunity for partnership with Biden who has a more complicated relationship with Catholics and with the church than President John F. Kennedy did 60 years ago.
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