December 7, 2022

Wilton Daniel Gregory Biography, Age, Education, Ordination, Chicago, Belleville, Atlanta, Washington, controversy, Honours

Wilton Daniel Gregory Biography

Wilton Daniel Gregory is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who is the Archbishop of Atlanta. Gregory was scheduled to take up the position of Archbishop of Washington on May 21, 2019. 

He was the Bishop of Belleville, Illinois, from 1994 to 2004. Earlier, he was the Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago from 1983 to 1994. Moreover, he was president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2001 to 2004.

 Age

Wilton Daniel Gregory is a Roman Catholic archbishop and scholar. He was born in Chicago, Illinois as the oldest of the three children of Wilton D. Gregory Sr. and the former Etta Duncan who later divorced on December 25, 2018. Although he was born on 7 December 1947 in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Gregory is 73 years old as of 2021.

 Early Life And Education

Wilton Gregory was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Wilton and Ethel (née Duncan) Gregory. One of three children, he has two sisters: Elaine and Claudia. However, Gregory’s parents divorced when he was quite young. So, his grandmother, Etta Mae Duncan, subsequently moved in with the family at their home on the South Side.

In 1958, he was enrolled at St. Carthage Grammar School, where he decided to become a priest before even converting to Catholicism.

He was baptized and received his First Communion in 1959, and Bishop Raymond P. Hillinger confirmed him later that year.

Gregory graduated from St. Carthage in 1961 and then attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary South. Furthermore, he attended Niles College in Chicago and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein.

After ordination, he completed a doctorate in liturgy (SLD) at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm in Rome.

Wilton Daniel Gregory photo

 Ordination and ministry

At the age of 25, John Cardinal Cody ordained him to the priesthood on May 9, 1973. Gregory engaged in advanced studies at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm in Rome. Thus he earned the Doctor of Sacred Liturgy degree.

Gregory performed pastoral work in Glenview at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and at Mary, Seat of Wisdom Parish in Park Ridge, Illinois.

He also taught at Saint Mary of the Lake Seminary and served as a Master of Ceremonies under Cardinals Cody and Bernardin.

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Wilton Daniel Gregory Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago

On October 31, 1983, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago and Titular Bishop of Oliva. Gregory received his episcopal consecration on the following December 13 from Cardinal Bernardin, with Bishops Alfred Abramowicz and Nevin Hayes, O.Carm., serving as co-consecrators.

Wilton Daniel Gregory Bishop of Belleville

Gregory remained in Chicago until December 29, 1993, when he was appointed the seventh Bishop of Belleville. Then he was installed on February 10, 1994.

From 2001 to 2004, Gregory served as the President of the USCCB. The first African-American to head an episcopal conference, as Vice President from 1998 to 2001, and also Chairman of several committees.

During his presidency, the American bishops issued the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” in response to Roman Catholic sex abuse cases.

He is also a member of the Board of Trustees at The Catholic University of America. In 2002, in recognition of his handling of the sex abuse scandal with repeated apologies and the defrocking of priests, he was chosen as Time’s Person of the Week.

Wilton Daniel Gregory Archbishop of Atlanta

Pope John Paul II, in one of his last episcopal appointments before his death, named Bishop Gregory the seventh Archbishop of Atlanta on December 9, 2004. Accordingly, his installation took place on January 17, 2005.

Gregory has been active in the Roman Catholic Church in advocating for the prevention of child sexual abuse by the Roman Catholic religion. Again, the Roman Catholic religion should implement policies to protect the faithful from sexual abuse. Therefore, he has been one of the leading bishops in the United States regarding this endeavor.

Gregory writes a bi-weekly column for the Roman Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. The Georgia Bulletin titled “What I have seen and heard”. In it, he regularly shares reflections about his faith, work, and experiences.

Gregory was complimentary of Pope Francis’s 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. At a 2017 conference at Boston College, he described it as “a document that recognizes the real and serious problems and challenges facing families today. But at the same time, it is a proclamation of hope through the mercy and grace of God.”

Gregory spoke of Pope Francis as someone who “challenges the church and its pastors to move beyond thinking that everything is black and white so that we sometimes close off the way of grace and growth.”

Gregory allegations

In 2018, a group of Catholics started a petition urging Gregory to remove “pro-LGBT” Monsignor Henry Gracz of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta from his position as a spiritual advisor to victims of sexual abuse for allegedly going against Church teaching.

Gregory refused, saying that “there are [were] no plans” to remove Gracz from his advisory role. He added, “Msgr. Gracz is following the admonition of Pope Francis to accompany people on the periphery of society. Also, his priestly heart is not closed to those who find themselves misunderstood or rejected.”

Wilton Daniel Gregory Archbishop of Washington

On April 4, 2019, Pope Francis named Gregory Archbishop of Washington. His installation took place on May 21, 2019.

Wilton Daniel Gregory Residence controversy

In 2014, Wilton was widely criticized after the Archdiocese used $2.2 million from a bequest to build a new archbishop’s residence on property donated to the church that would also serve as a banquet and conference facility. On March 13, Gregory apologized to members of the Atlanta archdiocese:

I failed to consider the impact on the families throughout the Archdiocese. Who though struggling to pay their mortgages, utilities, tuition and other bills, faithfully respond year after year to my pleas to assist with funding our ministries and services. Though, I failed to consider the example I was setting…To all of you, I apologize sincerely and from my heart…. It is my intention to move deliberately forward and to do a better job of listening than I did before. If it is the will of these trusted representative groups, the Archdiocese will begin the process of selling the Habersham residence.Rathrer, I would look to purchase or rent something appropriate elsewhere. I would never jeopardize the cherished and personal relationships I have built with so many of you over something that personally means so little after all.

In April 2014, Gregory announced he was planning to sell the house, though he had moved into it only three months earlier.

Wilton Daniel Gregory Opposition to Safe Carry Protection Act

In 2014, Gregory announced his opposition to the passage of House Bill (H.B.) 60, the Safe Carry Protection Act, also known as the “Guns Everywhere” law.

Gregory stated that guns will not be allowed in Roman Catholic churches in Georgia, but for those military and civil service personnel who are required to have them.

He stated that carrying guns in churches places vulnerable individuals, such as children, those who are disabled, and the elderly, at risk.

Gregory is further against the new law because it is against Jesus’ teachings of peace.

Gregory wrote:

And before this legislation takes effect in July, I will officially restrict the presence of weapons in our Catholic institutions except for those carried by the people that civic authorities have designated and trained to protect and guard us – and those who are duly authorized law and military officials. The last thing we need is more firearms in public places, especially in those frequented by children and the vulnerable…Rather than make guns more available as a solution, we need leaders in government and society who will speak against violence in all aspects of life and who teach ways of reconciliation and peace and who make justice, not vengeance, our goal.

The Safe Carry Protection Act took effect on July 1, 2014. It permits licensed gun owners to carry guns into many public and private places, including churches, school property, bars, nightclubs, libraries, and some government buildings in Georgia.

 The Georgia Baptist Convention which includes 3,600 Baptist churches in Georgia supported the law. But the  Catholic or Episcopalian church leaders do not support the law.

Wilton Daniel Gregory Honors

Gregory has been awarded Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Xavier University in Cincinnati, and McKendree University in Lebanon. Honorary Doctorates in Humanities from Lewis University in Romeoville and Saint Louis University in St. Louis.Too an Honorary Doctorate in Theology from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Additionally, Gregory was also awarded an honorary degree from Boston College in 2018.