Will Homeboy Archbishop Nelson Perez Feel Comfy with Failures In Philly?


January 24, 2020

By Susan Matthews

Pope Francis announced Archbishop Nelson Perez as the next leader of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It’s a homecoming of sorts. After graduating St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1989, Perez was ordained by Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

Bienvenido a casa

During my time at The Catholic Standard and Times, the archdiocesan newspaper, Perez served as the first director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization. Bevilacqua created the institute as a public relations bandaid for the wounds inflicted on the Hispanic community after he closed St. Henry’s Parish in North Philadelphia. There was outcry over removing the Catholic presence in a community where it was arguably needed most.

Perez was tasked with outreach to balance out the abandonment. Then the newspaper was told to cover it. Bevilacqua had his PR consultants review and edit out any negative quotes before we went to press.

While every effort in his role may have been genuine and helpful to the faithful, Perez was a pawn. He was ordained into a clerical culture of power, greed, hypocrisy, manipulation and well-documented secrecy. The clergy sex abuse coverup was in full swing. Memos were shredded, priests were shuffled and victims were silenced. What did Perez know and ignore? Did he merely survive and manage to thrive in spite of it?

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