Wilton Daniel Gregory

The Most Reverend 
Wilton Daniel Gregory
Archbishop of Atlanta
See Atlanta
Enthroned January 17, 2005
Predecessor John Francis Donoghue
Successor incumbent
Other posts Bishop of Belleville (1994-2004)
Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago (1983-94)
Ordination May 9, 1973
Consecration December 13, 1983
Personal details
Born December 7, 1947 (1947-12-07) (age 63)
Chicago, Illinois

Wilton Daniel Gregory (born December 7, 1947) is an African American clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the sixth and current Archbishop of Atlanta, having previously served as Bishop of Belleville (1993–2004) and Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago (1983–1993). He was president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2001 to 2004.


Early life and ministry

Wilton Gregory was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Wilton and Ethel (née Duncan) Gregory.[1] One of three children, he has two sisters: Elaine and Claudia.[2] Gregory's parents divorced when he was quite young, and his grandmother, Etta Mae Duncan, subsequently moved in with the family at their home on the South Side.[3] In 1958, he was enrolled at St. Carthage Grammar School, where he decided to become a priest before even converting to Catholicism.[2] He was baptized and received his First Communion in 1959, and was confirmed by Bishop Raymond P. Hillinger later that year.[2]

Gregory graduated from St. Carthage in 1961, and then attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary South and Niles College in Chicago, and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein.[1] At the age of 25, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal John Cody on May 9, 1973.[4]

He continued his studies at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome, where he earned a doctorate in Sacred Liturgy in 1980. He did pastoral work in Glenview at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, taught at Saint Mary of the Lake Seminary, and served as a Master of Ceremonies under Cardinals Cody and Bernardin. 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.

Bishop of Belleville

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

From 2001 to 2004, Gregory served as the President of the USCCB, the first African American ever to head an episcopal conference, having previously served as Vice President 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.[5]

"The terrible history recorded here is history," Gregory said on the subject of sexual abuse in the Church in 2004. His 2004 statement was noted in a 2011 report as the history, as it were, continued to be written, specifically in Philadelphia, Ireland, Germany and other locales. In the 2011 report, Gregory's 2004 comment was put in the context of statements by other senior Catholic figures who had decried the history but then declared the problem to be in the past. "That's over with!" Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York was quoted as declaring on 60 Minutes. And a USCCB, $1.8 million study's lead author was quoted as concluding, "The abuse crisis is over." The 2011 report opined that Gregory's statement expressed the position "more eloquently" than the other two did.[6] One possible indication of whether Gregory considers the history to be closed is that the word "sex" did not appear in the page of article-openings (weekly-to-monthly in frequency) back to the beginning on February 24, 2005 of his Georgia Bulletin column.[7] Another view of Gregory's position on the sex-abuse issue came from Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Blaine reviewed the possible replacements to Archbishop Justin Francis Rigali of Philadelphia in 2011. "None of the men who are alleged to be candidates to fill Rigali's role in Philadelphia are much better on abuse and cover ups. Archbishop Wilton Gregory may be the best of a very sorry lot but he too has mishandled clergy sex cases," wrote Blaine, citing specific cases. Charles Chaput, who was subsequently named as Rigali's replacement, was "the worst of the candidates" according to Blaine.[8]

Archbishop of Atlanta

Styles of
Wilton Daniel Gregory
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Archbishop
Posthumous style not applicable

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, and his installation took place on January 17, 2005.

Before deciding to elevate Archbishop Daniel DiNardo of Houston to the Sacred College of Cardinals in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI had reportedly considered Archbishop Gregory for that honor. If he eventually receives the red hat in a future consistory, he will become the first African-American prelate (and first Archbishop of Atlanta) to do so.

In late October 2007 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and had surgery in November of that same year.

He writes a bi-weekly column for the Georgia Bulletin titled "What I have Seen and Heard". [7]


He has been awarded honorary doctorates of humane letters from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Xavier University in Cincinnati, and McKendree University in Lebanon, and doctorates in humanities from Lewis University in Romeoville and Saint Louis University in St. Louis.


  1. ^ a b "The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta. http://archatl.com/archbishops/gregory. 
  2. ^ a b c Castranio, Mary Anne (2004-12-16). "New Archbishop Will 'Come To Know The People'". The Georgia Bulletin. http://www.georgiabulletin.org/local/2004/12/16/people. 
  3. ^ Bennett Kinnon, Joy (2002-12-01). "Bishop Gregory: Powerful Black Bishop Helps Catholic Church Confront Sexual Abuse Problems and a New World". Ebony. 
  4. ^ "Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/bishop/bgregory.html. 
  5. ^ Reaves, Jessica, "Person of the Week: Bishop Wilton Gregory", Time, Apr. 25, 2002.
  6. ^ Erdely, Sabrina Rubin, "The Catholic Church's Secret Sex-Crime Files", Rolling Stone, September 6, 2011 5:05 PM EDT. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  7. ^ a b "What I Have Seen and Heard", column home page, The Georgia Bulletin.
  8. ^ Blaine, Barbara, "SNAP Looks at Possible Rigali Replacements", bishop-accountability.org, July 18, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-20.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Francis Donoghue
Archbishop of Atlanta
Succeeded by
Preceded by
James Patrick Keleher
Bishop of Belleville
Succeeded by
Edward Kenneth Braxton

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