Pope installs first African-American cardinal

29 Novembre, 2020, 13:47 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Pope Francis delivers his blessing

Felipe Arizmendi, known for progressive views on indigenous rights and migrants as well as a staunchly conservative stance on sexuality, was presented with the ring and scarlet red biretta of the so-called princes of the Catholic church at a scaled-down ceremony at the Vatican due to pandemic precautions.

Thus far, he has appointed 18 cardinals from mostly far-flung countries that never had one, almost all of them from the developing world.

Pope Francis on Saturday installed 13 new cardinals, including the first African-American to hold the high rank, further expanding the pontiff's impact on the group that will one day elect his successor.

Gregory, already the highest-ranking African-American Catholic in USA history, made headlines in June when police and soldiers used teargas and rubber bullets to clear protesters in front of a picture he held in front of a historic Washington church.

"It's been a time to thank God for this unique moment in my life and in the life of the church in the United States", Mr Gregory told CNN last week ahead of the ceremony. Once they received three negative coronavirus test results, they were then allowed to participate in the ceremony on Saturday.

Out of 13 cardinals promoted on Saturday, nine are under the age of 80, allowing them to vote and run for the next pope after Francis' death or resignation.

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Everyone in the basilica except the pope wore a mask.

Thirteen men were also named as new cardinals at the induction, called a consistory.

Wilton Gregory, the 722-year-old archbishop of Washington DC, has become the first African-American cardinal to testify about racial relations in the United States after police brutally murdered black people.

Those named by Francis now make up the majority of those cardinals under the age of 80 who will elect his successor. "But it is also an important recognition that the African American, the Black Catholic community, is an important component within the larger, universal church".

Mr Gregory made headlines in June after he blasted President Donald Trump for visiting St John's Church near the White House for a photo opportunity. Gregory said he found it "baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated".

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Gregory said he wanted to find common ground with US President-elect Joe Biden despite disagreements on issues such as abortion.

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