(The following is the text of the opening statement by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory at an April 4 press conference at the Archdiocese of Washington's Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, Maryland, where he was introduced as the new archbishop of Washington. He has served as the archbishop of Atlanta since 2005 and will be installed as Washington's archbishop on May 21.)

Good Morning. Today, I humbly begin a new chapter in my life and in my pastoral ministry as I accept the appointment of Pope Francis to become the seventh archbishop of Washington.

I do so with great gratitude to the Holy Father, who has asked me to serve this local Church with the utmost integrity, with the joy of knowing and following the risen Christ, and with deep devotion to Her people as well as to the District of Columbia and the five counties that comprise the Archdiocese.  I thank Cardinal Wuerl and the auxiliary bishops from the heart for their gracious and warm welcome. I also welcome you – the members of the media – and I thank you for your presence this morning.

This is obviously a moment fraught with challenges – throughout our entire Catholic Church certainly, but nowhere more so than in this local faith community. And as in any family, challenges can only be overcome by a firmly articulated resolve and commitment to be better. To know Christ better. To love Christ better. To serve Christ better. I would be naïve not to acknowledge the unique task that awaits us. Yet I know, as I have always known, that I can and will rely on the grace of God and on the goodness of the people of this local Church to help me fulfill these new responsibilities. 

I want to come to know you, to hear your stories, to listen to the emotions, experiences, and expectations that have shaped your precious Catholic faith – for better or for worse. I want to offer you hope. I will rebuild your trust. 

I cannot undo the past, but I sincerely believe that together we will not merely address the moments where we’ve fallen short or failed outright, but we will model for all the life and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and we will reclaim the future. For our families. For those who will follow us. That is my greatest – indeed, it is my only – aspiration.

There is, as there has always been, a proud heritage of deep faith and goodness within the Archdiocese of Washington.  I come to you humbly knowing and conceding my own shortcomings and limitations. But I am bolstered by the knowledge that “We Are the Lord’s,” and that together in the Lord we can move forward, neither forgetting the past nor being constrained by it. The Archdiocese of Washington is home to the poor and the powerful, neither of which readily realizes they are both! You embrace a wide host of races, cultures, and languages. You are young and old. I seek to be a pastor for this entire family of faith.

Pope Francis has wisely cautioned us not to neglect the spiritual dimensions of any proposed resolutions to the problems that we face. Technical and structural responses are crucial and they are necessary, but they alone will never heal the hearts of our people, which are so in need of the healing only God can provide. As the Lord Jesus himself told his disciples, “this kind can only come out through prayer.” [Mark 9:29] Let us begin an earnest prayer life together today so that, in concert with those necessary technical and structural actions, the healing may commence.

Please permit me to speak a word of encouragement to the religious, the lay ministers, and the clergy of the Archdiocese. I want to assure them of my support, my affection, and my deep yearning to work closely with them to continue their excellent service to the people of this Archdiocese.  You have prepared us to face the future with hope and confidence. And when my service to you is ended, I trust you will know that I came to serve you with love, truth and tenderness in the name of the Lord Jesus.

May Our Lady Untier of Knots guide and sustain us now and forever.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory addressed media at an April 4 press conference where he was introduced as the seventh archbishop of Washington. The Archdiocese of Washington includes the nation's capital and the five surrounding Maryland counties. (Archdiocese of Washington photo by Jaclyn Lippelmann)