Cardinal Wilton Gregory takes possession of Immaculate Conception church in Rome.
Rome, Italy, Sep 27, 2021 / 10:00 am (CNA).
The first African American to be made a cardinal in the Catholic Church has been given the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Grottarossa as his titular church in the diocese of Rome.
“I am particularly thankful because the Immaculate Conception is also the Patroness of the Church in the United States of America,” Gregory said on Sept. 27.
The cardinal archbishop of Washington joined the parish community in the northern outskirts of Rome for midday prayer in his first official visit to his titular church.
Cardinals are assigned a titular church to formally make them a part of the diocese of Rome, whose bishop is the pope. This means that cardinals are always linked to Rome, even if they reside elsewhere.
Pope Francis made Gregory a cardinal in the Catholic Church’s last consistory, held on Nov. 28, 2020.
As archbishop of Washington, Gregory has been at the center of discussion in recent months over whether pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be admitted to Communion. He told a reporter last year that he would not deny Communion in such cases.
During the U.S. bishops’ meeting in June, Gregory cautioned against drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist that would include language on worthiness to receive Communion, especially among Catholic public figures.
U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are both Catholic and strongly support legal abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion.
As the archbishop of Washington took possession of his titular church at noon on Sept. 27, Pope Francis gave a speech to the Pontifical Academy for Life in which he reiterated that abortion is murder.
“Is it right to eliminate, to take a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? That’s what abortion is,” the pope said.
He added that while abortion is considered “normal” by some people today, it is “a practice that is very ugly. It is really murder.”
Pope John Paul II established Immaculate Conception as a titular church in 1985, when it was assigned to the Polish Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, who died on Nov. 16, 2020.