4:39 PM - January 23, 2020
4:39 PM - January 23, 2020

Pope Francis on Thursday announced Cleveland Bishop Nelson Pérez will replace Charles Chaput as Philadelphia’s next archbishop, making him the first Hispanic leader of the region’s 1.3 million-member archdiocese.

Philadelphia's next archbishop, Nelson J. Pérez, addresses those assembled at the Archdiocese’s offices after his introduction by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia's next archbishop, Nelson J. Pérez, addresses those assembled at the Archdiocese’s offices after his introduction by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

Before and after Pérez’s appointment was officially announced, news of the change in Roman Catholic Archdiocese leadership rippled through the region, creating hope, excitement, and anticipation for the return of the homegrown priest with a soft spot for Reading Terminal Market.

He will be installed at a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul on Feb. 18.

Read more about Pérez’s appointment:

— Oona Goodin-Smith

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3:29 PM - January 23, 2020
3:29 PM - January 23, 2020

Philly’s Latinos expect new archbishop Nelson Pérez to be a change agent

The appointment of Nelson Pérez, the first Hispanic to lead the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, sparked joy and hope in local Latino communities as they expect he will have a significant impact on people here and abroad, writes the Inquirer’s Jesenia De Moya Correa.

*Correction: An earlier version of this graphic contained incorrect figures. The corrected version is now showing.

Pérez, a 58-year-old of Cuban-American background, is one of three Hispanic archbishops in the country.

Pérez’s appointment signals to cardinals and archbishops back in Latin America and the Caribbean that Pope Francis has “a revolutionary idea of younger, more liberal religious leaders that could eradicate conservatism in the hierarchy,” said José Herrera Galán, of Oxford Circle, a political campaign adviser who studies social ideology.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

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2:31 PM - January 23, 2020
2:31 PM - January 23, 2020

What they’re saying about Philadelphia’s new archbishop

From columnist Mike Newall:

It seems Pope Francis was paying close attention when he rolled through Philly in 2015. Maybe the Rocky theme that greeted him at the airport got stuck in his head. Maybe he thought back to it when it came time to choose our new archbishop, and thought: A town like this needs a native son.
And in Bishop Nelson Pérez, named Thursday as the new leader of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, we get that — or pretty close to it.

From the Inquirer Editorial Board:

By leaning into the community-building spirit he embraced when previously ministering to the people of Philadelphia, Archbishop Perez can create an opportunity for the Catholic Church to be a safe place for all people — either through worship or action. And through that, he can bring some hope that the city desperately needs.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

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1:45 PM - January 23, 2020
1:45 PM - January 23, 2020

Excitement, hope, anxiety: Philadelphians react to the return of a homegrown priest

The news of Pérez’s appointment to lead Philadelphia’s 1.3 million-member archdiocese garnered mixed reaction across the city Thursday.

Some local Catholics told the Inquirer’s Justine McDaniel and Anna Orso they were excited for the homegrown priest’s return, while others expressed hope for the fresh leadership. Still, others were anxious to see what Pérez’s reign will mean for the church and its faithful.

“It’s one of the most important appointments of Pope Francis for the United States, there’s no question about that,” said Villanova professor and church historian Massimo Faggioli.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

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1:25 PM - January 23, 2020
1:25 PM - January 23, 2020

Reading Terminal Market, Chaput, and family: Get to know Philly’s next archbishop

On his favorite Philly haunts:

“I love Reading Terminal Market … Many days off I would go there for lunch. It’s such a vibrant place, you know.”

On comparing him to Charles Chaput:

“In a sense, I don’t compare myself to him that way. Because, to me, he’s one of my heroes. I wouldn’t dare compare myself to him. I learn from him, a guy like him.”

On his family:

“I’ve learned from my parents who I am, and what I am is directly connected to them. Their faith … you know, it was tough for them to leave Cuba and leave everything behind. They left their house like you left your house this morning, never to go back. And they had to start all over again. So I admire them for coming here and to give us really a new life and a joyful life.”

On the statute of limitations:

“I support the statute of limitations as long as it applies fairly to all. That doesn’t single anybody out, but it applies to all, and I think that’s fair and that’s just.”

— Oona Goodin-Smith

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1:13 PM - January 23, 2020
1:13 PM - January 23, 2020

‘For the good of God and many Catholic communities in Philadelphia’

In Lawncrest, Father Augusto Concha celebrated the noon mass at St. William to more than 50 parishioners, with a nod to the parish’s former pastor and the diocese’s future archbishop..

He offered a prayer for Pérez and told parishioners: “We need to continue praying for him, for the ministry and everything he does for the archdiocese ... for the good of God and many Catholic communities in Philadelphia.”

— Claudia Vargas

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11:42 AM - January 23, 2020
11:42 AM - January 23, 2020

‘He’s a son of the archdiocese’

Caroline Guy, a secretary at St. William in Lawncrest, where Pérez served as pastor from 2002 to 2009, said the phone has been ringing off the hook all morning with media requests about him.

Guy, who has been a parishioner at Saint William for 28 years, described Pérez as “warm and personable.” She said she is excited to have him back as the city’s archbishop— but it wasn’t something she was expecting.

“I’m surprised,” she said of the appointment. “He’s a son of the archdiocese.”

Claudia Vargas

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11:04 AM - January 23, 2020
11:04 AM - January 23, 2020

Pérez called for comprehensive immigration reform in 2019 interview

Pérez discussed immigration nine months ago in an interview with the NBC affiliate in Cleveland, in which he called for comprehensive immigration reform and mentioned President Donald Trump’s long-sought wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

Question: How has the situation at the border affected you?

Pérez: This country, its soul, its heart, has been one of being a welcoming people. It’s there at the Statue of Liberty at the harbor where immigrants came by the thousands and thousands. And so it’s painful to see the conversation at times and the rhetoric that we see with our immigrants. And I understand countries have not only a right to protect their borders, but an obligation to protect their borders. But we have to do it in a way that respects the dignity of the human person. And our rights and our dignity, listen, there’s no wall that could stop that... it pains me to see that we might be going in another direction in terms of our thoughts and our heart. Because that’s not our soul. And we will lose our soul that way.

Question: Do you think there’s an answer to this?

Pérez: Comprehensive immigration reform. The bishops in the United States have been advocating for that now for years and years, and we need to give those who are here, who have been here for a long time — serving, working, being productive people of our society, helping to put food on our own tables — we need to give them a pathway.

Anna Orso

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10:17 AM - January 23, 2020
10:17 AM - January 23, 2020

‘Once a Philadelphia priest, always a Philadelphia priest’

“Once a Philadelphia priest, always a Philadelphia priest,” Perez said during a news conference Thursday introducing him as the region’s next archbishop. “The part of me that has that identity inside of me cannot wrap its head around being archbishop of Philadelphia. It just doesn’t compute.”

“But it is what the Lord wants,” Perez added.

Ordained in 1989 by then Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua, Pérez served as a vicar at St. Ambrose Parish in Olney (1989-1993); assistant director of the Office for Hispanic Catholics (1990-1993); founding director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization (1993- 2002); pastor of Saint William Parish in Lawncrest (2002-2009); and pastor of Saint Agnes Parish in West Chester (2009-2012).

Newly named Philadelphia Archbishop Bishop Nelson J. Pérez, center, waves to the crowd gathered for his introduction as Philadelphia's next archbishop.
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Newly named Philadelphia Archbishop Bishop Nelson J. Pérez, center, waves to the crowd gathered for his introduction as Philadelphia's next archbishop.

Pérez also taught courses in psychology and religious studies at La Salle University and developmental psychology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.

— Rob Tornoe

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10:10 AM - January 23, 2020
10:10 AM - January 23, 2020

Chaput ‘grateful’ to Pope Francis for sending Pérez home to Philly

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9:15 AM - January 23, 2020
9:15 AM - January 23, 2020

‘A kind, joyous and hard-working person’

Bishop Nelson Pérez celebrated a parish dedication mass Sept. 8 at St. Ambrose Church in Brunswick. A $5.6 million renovation of the church was completed this year.
TNS
Bishop Nelson Pérez celebrated a parish dedication mass Sept. 8 at St. Ambrose Church in Brunswick. A $5.6 million renovation of the church was completed this year.

Here’s what others are saying and writing about Pérez’s appointment as the new archbishop of Philadelphia:

A kind, joyous and hard-working person, Bishop Pérez is best described as proactive, involved and supportive in his leadership style. In the Diocese of Cleveland he made the visitation of parishes, schools and many other Catholic and community organizations a top priority. He was tireless in his desire to get to know the people and places of the diocese.
Pope Francis significantly shifted the ideological balance of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States on Thursday by replacing one of the country’s most prominent conservative prelates as the archbishop of Philadelphia.
While serving in Cleveland, Pérez launched an initiative to develop a strategic plan for strengthening Catholic education in the diocese. He implemented changes in elementary religion teaching and began a “think tank” to recommend ways to ensure that youth and young adults are fully involved in the life of the local church, according to a news release from the Cleveland diocese.
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8:52 AM - January 23, 2020
8:52 AM - January 23, 2020

‘Rome announced it, so I guess I can, too.’

News of the appointment rippled through the Catholic community Thursday, including at morning Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Rev. Isaac Haywiser briefly acknowledged Perez’ appointment saying: “Rome announced it, so I guess I can, too.”

He directed parishioners to tune into a 10 a.m. press conference introducing Pérez to the Catholic community in Philadelphia and also prayed for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Cleveland “during this time of transition.”

The announcement was the first time Ulises Prudente — a lifelong Catholic who has attended Mass at the Basilica for three years — had heard of the move. The 34-year-old Mexican immigrant who lives in South Philly and works as a shoe-shiner said the naming of the archdiocese’s first Latino archbishop was “wonderful news, especially here” at the Basilica, which has a robust community of Latino parishioners and offers a weekly Mass in Spanish.

Prudente said while he respected Chaput’s leadership and saw him as “like a father,” he was heartened to hear Perez may represent a different political bent.

“The world is better with different ideas,” he said.

— Anna Orso

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7:58 AM - January 23, 2020
7:58 AM - January 23, 2020

Pérez to be introduced at 10 a.m.

Diocese of Cleveland Bishop Nelson Pérez celebrates the 151st anniversary of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in March 2018 in Akron. Pictured (from left) are Rev. Joe Kraker, Deacon Bob Bender, Bishop Nelson Pérez, and Rev. Norm Douglas.
TNS
Diocese of Cleveland Bishop Nelson Pérez celebrates the 151st anniversary of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in March 2018 in Akron. Pictured (from left) are Rev. Joe Kraker, Deacon Bob Bender, Bishop Nelson Pérez, and Rev. Norm Douglas.

Perez will be introduced as Philadelphia’s new archbishop at a 10 a.m. news conference in Center City, which will stream live on the archdiocese’s website. His installation Mass will be celebrated Feb. 18 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

— Rob Tornoe

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7:50 AM - January 23, 2020
7:50 AM - January 23, 2020

Pérez ‘deeply grateful’ for Philly appointment

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7:44 AM - January 23, 2020
7:44 AM - January 23, 2020

Pérez joins a select group

Pérez will become just the 10th archbishop to lead the church in Philadelphia since it was elevated to the rank of an archdiocese in 1875.

Traditionally, the leader of the Philadelphia archdiocese has been named a cardinal, the second-highest clerical rank in the church, behind pontiff. But Pope Francis never elevated Archbishop Chaput to cardinal, denying him the opportunity to wear the red zucchetto.

— Rob Tornoe

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7:40 AM - January 23, 2020
7:40 AM - January 23, 2020

An outspoken advocate for immigrants

While Chaput was an outspoken conservative who rarely attacked Trump’s immigration policies, Pérez has emerged as a critic of the administration, saying the nation on had lost its “moral compa” over the policy of separating families at the border.

“The state doesn’t give human rights,” Pérez told Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2018. “We’re born with them and given them by God ... human rights cro borders.”

Pérez’s parents were Cuban nationals who fled the island and Fidel Castro’s government in 1961. His appointment makes him only the third Hispanic archbishop in the United States, and one of the few able to speak to the Pope Francis in his native language.

— Rob Tornoe

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