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From left to right: Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C., and former Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl.LifeSiteNews

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Holy See has indicated that pro-LGBT Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta may be appointed as the next head of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., sparking controversy among some Catholic conservatives.

An official announcement could come as early as next week, although Vatican sources have hedged their bets, suggesting to the Catholic News Agency (CNA) that his appointment is “subject to change.”

Gregory will succeed Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who stepped down in the aftermath of last year’s Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on clergy sexual abuse when it appeared he was continuing a pattern of obfuscation and cover-up

One Catholic lay group expressed grave “reservations” about about the appointment of Archbishop Gregory as archbishop of Washington.

“We urge the Holy See to seek out a worthy candidate who is without ties to Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Mr. Theodore McCarrick, or Donald Cardinal Wuerl,” Catholic Laity for Orthodox Bishops and Reform stated in a press release.

“Archbishop Gregory was a protégé of Cardinal Bernardin in Chicago, where he first became an auxiliary bishop. Cardinal Bernardin left a legacy of dilution of Catholic teaching and subversion of the fight to protect unborn babies and their mothers,” the group added.

The group said the Archdiocese of Washington has already suffered enough “through nearly 20 years of failed leadership.”

“First, under a Cardinal Archbishop who has finally been expelled from the clerical state for his predation on minors and adults under his jurisdiction, then under a Cardinal Archbishop who last October had to plead with Pope Francis to accept his resignation because of his failure to protect minors from priests who were sexual predators and his prevarications and evasions regarding his predecessor in Washington,” the group stated.

“The Archdiocese of Washington needs a worthy shepherd with a proven record of teaching and practicing the fullness of the Catholic Faith. We need a robust leader for Catholicism, with the Heart of Christ, focused on the Gospel message, not liberal politics,” they concluded.

Pope Francis has taken his time naming a successor to Wuerl, presumably because of the strategic importance of the national capital archdiocese, which entails interaction with powerful high-profile politicians, pundits, lobbyists, and others.  

Gregory is no stranger to Washington, having served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2001 to 2004. 

It was during his tenure as USCCB head that clerical sexual abuse first rocked the Catholic Church in the U.S., resulting in the Dallas Charter, which, while providing guidelines for dealing with abusive priests, left abusive prelates unchecked. 

Along with now defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Gregory misrepresented the contents of a letter from Cardinal Ratzinger, then the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which counseled American prelates to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion during the 2004 presidential campaign season.  They instead paraphrased the letter, telling their brother bishops that they should exercise their own judgment regarding pro-abortion politicos. The U.S. bishops ended up voting 183-6 to leave the decision up to each diocese.

More recently, as head of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Gregory has displayed an uncritical willingness to accept LGBT ideology in defiance of the Church’s Magisterium.

Last year,  Gregory personally invited pro-gay Vatican adviser Fr. James Martin to give a speech titled “Showing Welcome and Respect in Our Parishes to LGBT Catholics”  at both St. Thomas More Parish and at Atlanta’s Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. 

“During a 2017 visit to Washington, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, the reported next Archbishop of Washington, mentioned his support for James Martin, SJ’s Building a Bridge,” noted one Twitter user. “He called Fr. Martin a wonderful Jesuit and called the book a wonderful book.”

Gregory has permitted the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to act as a center for LGBT events, including LGBT potluck socials and participating in the city’s Pride Parade. Since 2014, he has also allowed the pro-homosexual and pro-transgenderism “Catholic” group, Fortunate and Faithful Families, to hold retreats in his Atlanta Chancery, while personally saying Mass for the group.  

The shrine’s pastor, who has shown himself to be at home operating within Atlanta’s gay subculture, was chosen by Archbishop Gregory to serve as a spiritual director for victims of sex abuse for the archdiocese.

In 2017, Archbishop Gregory gave the keynote address at the Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP) conference. The group backs the ordination of women to the diaconate and is open to the idea of the Church approving the use of contraception.

Archbishop Gregory has proven to be an avid supporter of Amoris Laetitia, signaling a willingness to allow divorced and “remarried” Catholics to receive communion.

As news of Archbishop Gregory’s pending appointment to head the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. seeped into the public square, some took to Twitter to criticise the pope’s choice. 

“The reported appointment of Archbishop Wilton Gregory to Washington will be widely welcomed (especially in the media),” said Damian Thompson, editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald. “Let's hope he’s an outstanding success. But it’s worth noting that Rome is sending a clear message to conservative US Catholics. Read their tweets.”

“Unshocking pick,” declared Catholic commentator and author Patrick Coffin. “According to the late Dr. Richard Sipe (who rejected Catholic teaching on homosexuality, mind) the proposed Wuerl replacement is strongly presumed to be homosexual. Who am I to judge?”