Wilton Daniel Gregory

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The Most Reverend
Wilton Daniel Gregory
Archbishop of Atlanta
Wilton Gregory
Diocese Atlanta
See Atlanta
Installed 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
by John Patrick Cody
Consecration December 13, 1983
by Joseph Louis Bernardin
Personal details
Born (1947-12-07) December 7, 1947 (age 66)
Chicago, Illinois
Nationality  American
Denomination Roman Catholic
Residence Georgia
Parents Wilton, Sr.; Ethel
Occupation Archbishop, Clergyman
Profession Religious
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}

Wilton Daniel Gregory (born December 7, 1947) is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta. He previously served as Bishop of Belleville, Illinois (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[edit]

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 John Cardinal 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.


Gregory performed 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.

As Bishop of Belleville[edit]

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]

As Archbishop of Atlanta[edit]

Styles of
Wilton Daniel Gregory
Coat of arms of Wilton Daniel Gregory.svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Archbishop

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.[citation needed]

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

Gregory has been active in the Roman Catholic Church in advocating for the prevention of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic religious, and for implementing policies to protect the faithful from sexual abuse by Roman Catholic religious.[3] He has been one of the leading bishops in the United States regarding this endeavor.[3]

Gregory writes a bi-weekly column for the Roman Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, The Georgia Bulletin titled "What I have seen and heard".[6] In it, he regularly shares reflections about his faith, work, and experiences.[6]


Gregory 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.


In 2014 it was revealed that a large donation ($15 M) was made in favor of the archdiocese Gregory runs. From that amount he took $2.2 M to build a new archbishop residence on property donated to the church that would also serve as a banquet and conference facility. His action was widely criticized by the local church people, and he has been under fire since then. He later apologized for this action. [7] In April 2014, Gregory announced he was planning on selling the house, even though he had moved into it only three months earlier.[8]


  1. ^ a b "The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta. 
  2. ^ a b c Castranio, Mary Anne (2004-12-16). "New Archbishop Will 'Come To Know The People'". The Georgia Bulletin. 
  3. ^ a b c 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. 
  5. ^ Reaves, Jessica, "Person of the Week: Bishop Wilton Gregory", Time, Apr. 25, 2002.
  6. ^ a b "What I Have Seen and Heard", column home page, The Georgia Bulletin.
  7. ^ "Atlanta archbishop apologizes over $2.2M mansion", column home page, Usa Today.
  8. ^ Associated Press (5 April 2014). "Archbishop Says He Plans to Sell $2 Million Home". New York Times. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Francis Donoghue
Archbishop of Atlanta
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Joseph Fiorenza
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Succeeded by
William S. Skylstad
Preceded by
James Patrick Keleher
Bishop of Belleville
Succeeded by
Edward Kenneth Braxton