Friday, December 20, 2013

Cardinal Francis George's 50-Year Anniversary Gala


I watched news clips today of the celebration marking Chicago's Cardinal Francis George's 50th anniversary as a priest. 

Cardinal Francis George gives the homily during Mass at the tomb of St. Peter.

During the mass, as he faced the congregation at Holy Name Cathedral, I noted the array of cardinals that were seated behind him in semicircles. I understand that they came from all over. I noted that they were all white. If there were Latinos in the group, they were white Latinos.  Not one dark face. Even though there are African cardinals they were not on the altar behind Cardinal George.

After Mass, the celebration was continued at Chicago's exclusive Drake Hotel. The finery was well displayed by the TV shots. This pomp and circumstance has not been promoted by Pope Francis. 

Cardinal George has reached the mandatory retire age (75). I understand that his date of retirement is near. One TV station commentator named three serious candidates. One of them is Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta. 

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory

Racism and sexism remain stains on the souls of the white male-dominated Roman Catholic hierarchy. African American bishops/archbishops continue to be locked out of membership in the lofty “College of Cardinals” even though there are many who should be members.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia is a prime example of an African American who should be a member of that group of “princes of the Roman Catholic Church.” Archbishop Gregory was converted to Roman Catholic Catholicism while attending Chicago’s St. Carthage Grammar School. One would think that his impeccable credentials are reasons for him to have been inducted into the College of Cardinals many years ago. 

He was vice president and later president of the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s Conference and under his leadership the Catholic bishops implemented the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” He has authored several books and is the recipient of numerous awards. The admiration he received from non-Catholics is evidenced by the fact that he was inducted into the Martin Luther King Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

If, by any chance, African Americans were nominated to be inducted as cardinals, it behooves the Catholic hierarchy to make known such an effort. If no such nominations were made, it behooves the Catholic hierarchy to explain why African Americans are not in the College of Cardinals. 


If Gregory is not elevated to the position of cardinal, it will say a lot about the state of the Roman Catholic Church. Since Archbishop Gregory distinguished himself as a Chicago priest and a bishop in a diocese in Illinois, he is a natural for the position.