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Cardinal Wilton Gregory of DC tests positive for COVID-19

The nation's boosted Black cardinal has contracted the deadly Coronavirus, reporting no symptoms as of Friday evening.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory in Rome following his elevation to the cardinalate in November 2020. (AP/Getty Images)

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, head of the Archdiocese of Washington, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement published on New Year’s Eve in the Catholic Standard.

“I am fully vaccinated and boosted,” Gregory said, noting on social media the same day that he is quarantining at home.

“I feel fine. No pains, fever, or other symptoms.”

The history-making prelate recently celebrated one full year as a cardinal in the nation’s most prominent see, having been elevated in November 2020 during Black Catholic History Month.

He has since made headlines repeatedly, both for his new position as well as his advocacy for national unity, level-headedness in political matters (especially concerning President Joe Biden), and various social causes—including the refugee crisis in Haiti, whose diaspora community in DC must now celebrate their Independence Day Mass without him later today.

Gregory appeared on the Today Show just this past weekend, encouraging vigilance and hope in light of the ongoing pandemic and the Christmas season.

In regards to COVID-19 policies, Gregory has maintained reasonably strict standards for the archdiocese, even while pressing back against attempts by DC officials to lopsidedly restrict church attendance in the lead-up to Christmas 2020.

At the time, the archdiocese sued DC Mayor (and Black Catholic) Muriel Bowser concerning the regulations, later settling out of court on terms more amenable to the archdiocese.

Now, two noteworthy COVID variants later, the archdiocese once again faces the challenge of balancing safety and worship as cases in DC rise to a level nearly ten times the previous peak.

“As the Omicron variant of COVID sweeps through our area, I ask that you please continue to be extremely cautious: using appropriate facemasks, getting vaccinated and boosted, and following the guidance of our public health officials,” Gregory said in the statement announcing his diagnosis.

“We have learned in these past 21 months that we do better in this pandemic when we work together to care for one another.”

Joining thousands now praying in a special way for Gregory, who turned 74 earlier this month, his fellow bishops and Black Catholic clergymen from around the country have begun sending words of encouragement.


Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).


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