December 07, 2023
Cardinal Wilton Gregory spoke of celebrating diversity during his appearance at the Presidential Speaker Series on Dec. 6. (Catholic University/Patrick G. Ryan)

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington and University chancellor, is worried about the state of conversation in the country but believes Catholics can take the lead in restoring civility by finding inspiration in the Gospels.

“You do not have to look very far to see what has become socially tolerable expressions of intolerance, hatred, and even incredible rudeness,” said Cardinal Gregory. “Given the wide range of our national, local, ecclesial, and even our own family environments, we are directly challenged each day to practice respect with those that we encounter.” 

Cardinal Gregory delivered the remarks as part of his appearance at University President Peter Kilpatrick’s Presidential Speaker Series on Dec. 6. The discussion, titled “Celebrating Diversity,” saw hundreds gather at the Della Ratta Auditorium to hear the nation’s first Black cardinal address the topic of synodality and a culture of encounter in an increasingly diversified nation and Catholic Church. 

The conversation between President Kilpatrick and the cardinal was the first installment of the academic year and two more are planned with other Catholic leaders later this spring. President Kilpatrick said Cardinal Gregory’s words should spark a renewal of thought and dialogue.

University President Peter Kilpatrick listens as Cardinal Wilton Gregory shares his experiences at the Presidential Speaker Series on Dec. 6. (Catholic University/Patrick G. Ryan)

 “He understands the challenges facing our nation and our community when it comes to discourse, race, and the culture,” President Kilpatrick said. “He also has great insights and how people of faith can engage in the fight against injustice, racism, and nationalization.”

Cardinal Gregory said people inside and outside of the Church are increasingly entrenched in their opinions, leading to isolation. The people of the Washington, D.C. area are tested each day politically, ethically, and from a faith perspective.

“This richness of the diversity of people of all ages,” Cardinal Gregory said, “from all over the globe, from different walks of life, with diverse opinions and contributions, often challenges our comfort zone. Even our American Catholic comfort zone can be rattled by the vastness of God's family of cultures, language, and expressions of the world.” So much diversity can throw some people off balance, and, quite frankly, make them feel uneasy. And, as if there is not enough for all to share. Nothing could be farther from the truth.”

Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Gregory to be among the U.S. representatives at the Synod on Synodality earlier this year. 

“The Synod on Synodality is asking us to walk more intently on this rough road together, to look at our communities as places of vibrant life filled with diversity of all kinds, reflecting our God who made us all in his image,” Cardinal Gregory said.

Following a question and answer session with President Kilpatrick, Cardinal Gregory took queries from the audience. 

Watch the full “Celebrating Diversity” discussion with Cardinal Wilton Gregory.