Pope Francis has appointed the first black American cardinal, Wilton Gregory.
The news was announced today (25 October) from St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City following the Pope's Angelus prayer.
According to reports, Gregory is one of 13 to be officially appointed during a ceremony on 28 November.
This is not the first time that Gregory has made history. Back in 2019, he was named the archbishop of Washington D.C., the first black archbishop in the region and the only black archbishop in the entire country.
He replaced cardinal Donald Wuerl in D.C. following an outpouring of public anger surrounding the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal.
As a cardinal, Gregory's role will be to elect a new pope, should he step down or die.
And Pope Francis confirmed that nine of the 13 new cardinals will be under the age of 80, and therefore eligible to elect his successor.
Earlier this year, in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the rise to prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, Gregory spoke out about the need to improve race relations within the Catholic Church.
Speaking in August, he said: "Ours is the task and the privilege of advancing the goals that were so eloquently expressed 57 years ago by such distinguished voices on that day.
"Men and women, young and old, people of every racial and ethnic background are needed in this effort."
This ground-breaking announcement comes just days after Pope Francis announced that he endorsed same-sex civil unions in a new documentary.
In the documentary, entitled Francesco, the 83-year-old said: "Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God.
"Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it.
"What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered."
Francesco had its premiere at Rome Film Festival on 21 October, and this comment represents his most direct endorsement of same-sex civil unions to date.
Reverend James Martin - a prominent Jesuit who has long advocated for the church to be more welcoming to LGBT members - said this was a move in the right direction.
Speaking to The Washington Post, he said: "I think it's a big step forward. In the past, even civil unions were frowned upon in many quarters of the church. He is putting his weight behind legal recognition of same-sex civil unions."
A synopsis of Francesco reads: "Francesco is the latest film from Oscar and Emmy-nominated Director Evgeny Afineevsky, featuring exclusive interviews with His Holiness Pope Francis, His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Mark Kennedy Shriver, Sister Norma Pimentel, and Juan Carlos Cruz, among others.
"Francesco is not a biographical film about Pope Francis in the traditional sense.
"Rather it is a film that shows us the world as it is today and a path to understanding what a better future can be for tomorrow as seen through the remarkable work of the Pope in the areas of climate change, migration, refugees, peace and religious tolerance, gender and identity justice, health and economic equality, and, by example, the meaning of inspired leadership."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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