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Pope Francis appoints Philadelphia diocese's first Hispanic archbishop

Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Pope Francis named Bishop Nelson Perez as the archbishop of the Philadelphia Archdioceses, making him the first Hispanic to assume the role.

Perez, 58, was born to a Cuban immigrant in Miami and served as a parish priest in sections of Philadelphia for more than 20 years before being elevated to the role of an auxiliary bishop in Long Island, N.Y., in 2012 and being installed as a bishop in Cleveland in 2017.

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"I'm back to the church, the Archdiocese that formed me and ordained me and walked with me," he said. "I come back really with a great sense of gratitude and joy to serve alongside great bishops."

Perez was appointed to replace Archbishop Charles Chaput, who announced his retirement in September before turning 75, the traditional retirement age for Catholic bishops.

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Chaput served as leader of the diocese for eight years, overseeing the church through a financial crisis and a grand jury report that implicated the diocese of covering up sexual abuse.

"I asked for a successor that would care for and guide our people, speak the truth with charity and conviction," Chaput said. "He is exactly the man with exactly the abilities that our church needs and I'm very grateful to Pope Francis for sending him home to us in Philadelphia."

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Perez's mass of installation will take place on Feb. 18 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

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He will take on the day-to-day management of Philadelphia's Catholic infrastructure which includes more than 215 parishes, 460 diocesan priests and a network of universities and schools that serve more than 141,000 students.

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