Bishop Richard F. Stika reported that Cardinal Justin Rigali made Diocese of Knoxville history on Nov. 28 by participating in the Ordinary Consistory for new cardinals from Knoxville. Cardinal Rigali, who is in residence in Knoxville, took part in the Consistory via Zoom, the Internet-based meeting link that has become a staple during the socially distanced year of 2020.
Bishop Stika captured the moment and shared it on Facebook, writing: “History is made for the Diocese of Knoxville as our own Cardinal, His Eminence Justin Cardinal Rigali, is participating in the Ordinary Consistory for the new Cardinals. The Holy See has instructed all Cardinals to be vested in their choir robes and to participate via Zoom. Who would’ve ever thought the small Diocese of Knoxville in East Tennessee would be involved in this significant moment!”
Bishop Stika offered his best wishes to Cardinal Wilton Gregory, saying: “I have known Cardinal Gregory since his days as bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, Ill. Throughout my life I have spent a great deal of time in that diocese since many of my family lived in an area around Nashville, Posen, and Radom, Ill. Along with so many other bishops, I have had a profound respect for him as has been exemplified in his movement from Belleville to Atlanta and now to the nation’s capital. He is so highly esteemed because at one point he was elected to be the president of the USCCB during the very difficult time of the Dallas Charter. The last time I saw Cardinal Gregory was in December of last year at our Ad Limina visit with Pope Francis. Again to him, I express my admiration.”
Pope Francis created 13 new cardinals on Nov. 28, including Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Gregory, the first African-American to be elevated to cardinal.