MEXICO CITY – Pope Benedict XVI named Auxiliary Bishop Victor Sanchez Espinosa of Mexico City as the new archbishop of Puebla, one of the oldest archdioceses in the country.
He also named Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Texcoco, president of the Mexican bishops’ conference, as the new archbishop of Tlalnepantla, an archdiocese west of Mexico City.
Both appointments were announced in Mexico City and at the Vatican Feb. 5.
Archbishop Sanchez, a native of Puebla state and secretary-general of the Latin American bishops’ council, or CELAM, replaces Archbishop Rosendo Huesca Pacheco, who will be 77 in March.
Archbishop Huesca said during a Feb. 5 Mass that Archbishop Sanchez would be introduced publicly Feb. 12 during the archdiocese’s annual pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
“It is the grace of God that (from) among so many bishops, Pope Benedict XVI chose one from Puebla. This is affection from His Holiness for the centuries of faith from Puebla,” said Archbishop Huesca.
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City also lauded the selection, saying in a Feb. 5 statement, “He always stood out for his absolute commitment and willingness to attend to his pastoral responsibilities and showed an open solidarity with the poor.”
Puebla was the site of a 1979 Latin American bishops’ meeting that helped establish the idea of a preferential option for the poor.
The appointment of Archbishop Aguiar also generated significant media coverage in Mexico.
Arturo Navarro, a church observer at the Jesuit-run ITESO University in suburban Guadalajara, said the move to Tlalnepantla would give Archbishop Aguiar a higher profile in his role as head of the bishops’ conference.
The archbishop, according to Navarro, could also act as a balance to Cardinal Rivera, whose pronouncements have at times been viewed as controversial in an area where the local government has been at odds with the church.
“He could be a counterweight in terms of expressing an opinion of a pastoral nature that isn’t so politicized,” Navarro said.