Pope Francis announced on Sunday that he would name Washington's archbishop, Wilton Gregory, a cardinal next month, making him the first African American to earn such a title.
Gregory will be one of the 13 cardinals in the new class, a promotion that comes at a time when he is also trying to rebuild trust in an archdiocese rocked by sexual abuse cases.
The move was widely anticipated, as Washington archbishops are typically named as cardinals after their appointments. But it is nonetheless symbolically significant in the U.S. Catholic Church, where Blacks have been underrepresented among the leadership.
Gregory, 72, was appointed as Washington's archbishop last year, taking over for Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who had been accused of mishandling clerical abuse cases.