Pope Francis on Saturday named 13 new cardinals, including Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the first black US prelate to be admitted among the so-called Princes of the Church.
Gregory, who turns 73 next month, leads an archdiocese rocked by the scandal of Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop who was defrocked last year after being outed as a serial sexual predator.
In June, Gregory made headlines after criticizing outgoing US President Donald Trump for turning a visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine as “a photo opportunity.”
He and other cardinals-elect were given the red hats and rings that come with their titles in a service led by the pope in St Peter’s Basilica.
Francis warned the new cardinals to carry out their duties correctly. “Let us think about the many kinds of corruption that exist in the life of a priest,” he said.
Two of the 13 new cardinals in the ceremony, known as a consistory, both based in Asia, missed the ceremony because of coronavirus travel restrictions.
The Apostolic Vicar of Brunei, Cornelius Sim, and the Archbishop of Capiz in the Philippines, Jose Fuerte Advincula would be appointed in absentia, the Vatican said earlier this week. Their red hats and rings would be send by special papal envoys, according to the Vatican News.
Because of pandemic risks, the audience at the consistory was a much reduced number of around 200 guests and cardinals. Also, a customary hug between cardinals was forfeited. Some guests joined the event via video link.
The main role cardinals have in the church is to elect popes in a conclave, a closed-door summit. Only those aged under 80 can take part, and nine of the new appointees meet this requirement.