Philly's new archbishop addresses clergy abuse during installation

Mark Abrams
February 18, 2020 - 12:41 pm
Archbishop Nelson Perez

Sarah Webb/


UPDATED: 8:00 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)Nelson Perez is officially the next archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, serving more than 1 million Roman Catholics in the region.

He is the first Hispanic cleric elevated to the post of archbishop in the archdiocese’s 212-year history. He was installed Tuesday in a special Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on the Parkway.

His procession into the cathedral was welcomed by the anthem, "Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom." 

That  same anthem was written and performed during the closing Mass on the same parkway for the 2015 visit of Pope Francis.

The moment was not lost on the congregants who packed the cathedral and applauded warmly and loudly as Perez entered his new house of worship.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio for the U.S., read the proclamation from Pope Francis, elevating Perez.

“We appoint you metropolitan archbishop of the Catholic Church of Philadelphia,” he read.

He then ascended to the cathedra, or archbishop’s chair, where Perez will lead Philly’s Catholic community.

Perez, 58, most recently served as a bishop in the Diocese of Cleveland, but he spent 20 years in Philadelphia, where he studied for the priesthood and became ordained.

Addressing the packed cathedral, Perez spoke of his hope for a renewal in the church. He also addressed the church’s current clergy sex abuse crisis.

“I and we are ever so deeply sorry to these victims and we continue to work with hope that we will make it right and be a source for them of healing,” he said.

In a nod to his predecessor, Perez chose to use the crozier, or shepherd’s staff, of now Archbishop-emeritus Charles Chaput during the Mass.

About 2,000 people attended, including bishops, priests, religious officials and laity.