Carlos Aguiar Retes

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Carlos Aguiar Retes
Archbishop of Mexico City
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
ArchdioceseMexico City
SeeMexico City
Appointed7 December 2017
Installed5 February 2018
PredecessorNorberto Rivera Carrera
Other post(s)Cardinal-Priest of Santi Fabriano e Venanzio a Villa Fiorelli (since 2016)
Ordination22 April 1973
Consecration29 June 1997
by Adolfo Antonio Suárez Rivera
Created cardinal19 November 2016
by Pope Francis
Personal details
Carlos Aguiar Retes

(1950-01-09) 9 January 1950 (age 74)
Previous post(s)
Alma mater
MottoQue todos sean uno
(May all be one)
Coat of armsCarlos Aguiar Retes's coat of arms
Ordination history of
Carlos Aguiar Retes
Priestly ordination
Date22 April 1973
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorAdolfo Antonio Suarez Rivera
Co-consecratorsMagín Camerino Torreblanca Reyes
Alfonso Humberto Robles Cota
Date29 June 1997
Elevated byPope Francis
Date19 November 2016
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Carlos Aguiar Retes as principal consecrator
Luis Artemio Flores Calzada8 September 2003
Víctor René Rodríguez Gomez25 July 2006
Guillermo Francisco Escobar Galicia24 February 2009
Efraín Mendoza Cruz29 July 2011
Jorge Cuapio Bautista27 May 2016
Styles of
Carlos Aguiar Retes
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Carlos Aguiar Retes (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkaɾlos aˈɣjaɾ ˈretes]; born 9 January 1950) is a Mexican cardinal of the Catholic Church who serves as the Archbishop of Mexico City. He has served as an officer of the Mexican Episcopal Conference and the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) and been president of both. He helped draft the landmark mission statement CELAM issued at the close of its 2007 conference in Aparecida. He was archbishop of Tlalnepantla from 2009 to 2017 and Bishop of Texcoco from 1997 to 2009. David Agren of the Catholic News Service calls him a "longtime ally" of Pope Francis who combines "intellectual finesse with a pastoral passion".[1]


Aguiar Retes was born on 9 January 1950, in Tepic, Mexico, the second of their six children. His parents were Carlos Aguiar Manjarrez and María Teresa Retes Pérez-Sandi. He studied Humanities and Philosophy at the Seminary of Tepic, graduating in 1969, and theology at the Pontifical Seminary of Montezuma in Montezuma, New Mexico, in the United States through 1972, and at the Seminary of Tula, Hidalgo, finishing in 1973.[2]


He was ordained a deacon on 24 December 1971. He was ordained a priest on 23 April 1973[3] in the Cathedral of Tepic. That year he began working as parochial vicar in the Parish of St. Maria Goretti, where he remained until 1974. He studied in Rome at the Pontifical Latin American College from 1974 to 1977, where he earned a degree in Holy Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute. He returned to Mexico and was appointed rector of the Seminary of Tepic.[2]

In 1991 he returned to Rome to continue his studies. From 1992 to 1993 he was part of a team of biblical scholars who prepared the edition of la Biblia de América, a translation of the Bible into accessible language.[4][5] In 1996 he completed a doctorate in biblical theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, with a thesis "Criticism of the prophets fasting". Between 1996 and 1997 he held the chair of Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical University of Mexico, where he was also rector of the John XXIII Residence for Priests.[2]

In addition to Spanish, Aguiar is fluent in Italian, English, French and German.[6]

Bishop and archbishop[edit]

On 28 May 1997 Pope John Paul II appointed him the third bishop of Texcoco.[3] He was ordained a bishop on 29 June. He was named a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on 8 March 2007.[7]

In May 2003, he was elected to a four-year term as Vice President of the Latin American Bishops' Conference (CELAM).[8] In preparation for that year's conference held in Aparecida, Brazil, he authored a paper on globalization and the new evangelization that linked the devaluation of local cultures and traditional community-sanctioned norms to the economic forces behind mass migration and environmental damage.[9] At the conference, he served on the drafting committee headed by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (later Pope Francis)[10] that produced a conference statement that endorsed key elements of liberation theology recast as less overtly political and integrated into the Church's mission.[11][12][13]

In 2008 he discussed the relationship between the Mexican bishops and drug traffickers who at times funded the construction of local churches. After several other bishops denied the Church accepted donations of funds from illegal activities, Aguiar said the drug lords "are generous and often they provide money for building a church or chapel" and "install electricity, establish communication links, highways [and] roads" in poor communities. He said that some criminals hope to ease their consciences through good works and seek reassurances from the clergy: "There has been a rapprochement with them as it's known that discretion is going to be kept. What they want is to encounter peace in their consciences. What they're going to get from us is a sharp response: Change your life."[14][15]

On 5 February 2009, Pope Benedict XVI named him Archbishop of Tlalnepantla.[16] He was installed on 31 March. One analyst of church appointments noted that this was a less prestigious appointment than his career path indicated, suggesting Pope Benedict had expressed some disfavor in failing to appoint him to the archdioceses of Guadalajara in 2011 and Monterrey in 2012.[17]

In May 2011, when he was head of the Mexican Episcopal Conference,[18] he was elected to a four-year term as President of the Latin American Bishops' Conference (CELAM).[19] He previously served as the organization's secretary-general and vice president. He presented an interviewer with his assessment of the Latin American church as "the transition from a time when Christian values were accepted by everyone to a situation where the models are changing, and a multi-cultural society is forming". He said:[20]

We can't take the view that our primary task is to stand on the threshold checking whether or not people have the administrative requirements for belonging to the Church. This is the moment to proclaim the essentials of Christianity, to everybody. To people as they are, in the concrete circumstances in which they live now, with the expectations that they now have. In the area of Mexico where I live, there are twelve dioceses where people live who come and go each day because of their vital needs. That’s the point, we must take on board all the new conditions of coexistence. For example, making access to the sacraments easier, so that the demands of the parish do not become a reason to lose all contact with the Church.

He said that ideological descriptions of church activity were outdated, that most of the Church leadership recognized the need to promote government policies rather than align themselves with a particular government, and that humility about the Church's failings would render media attempts to "denigrate the ecclesiastical institution" harmless.[20] He nevertheless worked in concert with local government officials, including Enrique Peña Nieto, the Governor of the state of Mexico who later became President of Mexico. The state government helped fund some religious instruction. In 2009 Aguiar helped negotiate an enhanced constitutional recognition of religious liberty.[1] He worked with Governor Eruviel Ávila and representatives of other religions on a statement of shared values, the "Pact for the Strengthening of Values with Religious Associations" ("Pacto por el Fortalecimiento de los Valores con Asociaciones Religiosas"), to coordinate efforts to strengthen social institutions.[21][22]

On 18 September 2012, Pope Benedict named Aguiar to participate in the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.[23] He served as moderator of one of the Spanish language groups.[24] Addressing the Synod he said that "the institutional organization of the Church is necessary, it is not sufficient. To achieve New Evangelization and to transmit the faith to the new generations, the Church must be considered with complete honesty, through a self-examination on the way of living the faith. The proposal of a new style of life applies not only to the Pastors, but to all Christians living in America."[25] Along with his Latin American colleagues, he stressed that "Religiosity remains alive and is the great potential reserve of our peoples", that "deep popular piety rooted in all the countries" of the region. He said that "We cannot forget the simple prayer of the masses who, at shrines and in folk festivals, express their own devotion and unfortunately feel unwelcomed and unaccompanied" and said that the Church needs to develop this piety as pastors and encourage it to develop "a commitment to social transformation which contributes to the well-being of the most needy".[26] He called for a renewed emphasis on communities of faith rather than institutional structures.[27] He had mentioned similar themes in anticipation of Benedict's visit to Mexico earlier in the year.[28]

In Tlalnepantla, Aguiar developed a program that had lay Catholics invite neighbors to join in parish activities. In promoting the Church's position on government policies, he asked the laity to lead the effort, for example in opposing a plan to establish a right to same-sex marriage in the constitution.[1] He emphasized a variety of social service ministries including local psychological counseling centers, services for single mothers, and religious instruction for prisoners and their families. The diocese promoted a youth festival that featured sports like biker acrobatics, a graffiti contest, a car tuning demonstration, and popular music concerts from boombox to classic rock. In religious education he stressed experience and assimilating Catholic doctrine into daily life over memorization and recitation.[21]

In April 2013, as President of CELAM along with its other officers he met with Pope Francis shortly after his election. He reported they discussed the ongoing implementation of Aparecida and he said that "Pope Francis is the one — if not the one who most – certainly expresses in his attitudes and words the theological-pastoral development of Aparecida".[29]

He was again a Synod Father appointed by Pope Francis in 2014[30] and 2015 sessions of the Synod on the Family.[31][32] At the end of the 2014 session, he participated in drafting the relatio that summarized the bishops' discussions.[33]


On 9 October 2016, Pope Francis announced that he was one of the 17 new cardinals to be created on 19 November 2016.[34] He was made Cardinal Priest of Santi Fabiano e Venanzio a Villa Fiorelli.[3] He was the sixth Mexican to become a cardinal[35] and the first archbishop of Tlalnepantla to receive the title. Pope Francis, a longtime friend, named him a cardinal while not doing the same for the archbishop of Monterey, traditionally a cardinal's see.[17]

He was named a member of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America in January 2017.[36]

On 7 December 2017, Pope Francis named him Archbishop of Mexico to succeed Norberto Rivera Carrera who spent 22 years in the post.[37][38] His installation was held on 5 February 2018.[39] The Tablet said the appointment was not a surprise because Aguiar is "a towering ecclesial figure in Central and Latin America".[40]

In December 2020, Aguiar supported the establishment of civil unions for same-sex couples. He said that "everyone has the right to family". He called on parents to remain close to their children who declare themselves gay or lesbian, adding "If they decide as a matter of free choice to be with another person, to be in a union, that's freedom".[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Agren, David (7 December 2017). "Pope names longtime ally to lead Mexico City Archdiocese". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Mons. Carlos Aguiar Retes" (in Spanish). Arquidiócesis de Tlalnepantla. 2014. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Aguiar Retes Card. Carlos". Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Conoce a Carlos Aguiar Retes, el nuevo arzobispo primado de México". El Financiero (in Spanish). 7 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  5. ^ Septién, Jaime (9 May 2015). "Biblia de América: Un Jesús más actual y valiente". Aleteia (in Spanish). Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  6. ^ San Martín, Inés (12 October 2016). "Mexico's newest cardinal blends Francis with Benedict XVI". Crux. Archived from the original on 9 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 2007.03.08" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Chilean Cardinal Errazuriz Elected New President of CELAM". Zenit. 16 May 2003. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  9. ^ Ivereigh, Austen (9 January 2018). "Pope's speech to diplomats reflects his Latin American background". Crux. Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  10. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (21 May 2007). "CELAM update: 'Option for the Poor' alive and well in Latin America". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  11. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (24 May 2007). "CELAM update: The lasting legacy of liberation theology". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  12. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (1 June 2007). "Sorting out the results of the Latin American bishops' meeting". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  13. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (9 June 2007). "CTSA: Latin American bishops flag poverty, ecology and indigenous peoples". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  14. ^ Schmidt, Brigitte; Agren, David (7 April 2008). "Mexican bishops deny church accepts donations from drug lords". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Narcos financian iglesia católica en México". Radio La Primerisima (in Spanish). Agencia AFP. 7 April 2008. Archived from the original on 10 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 2009.02.05" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 5 February 2009. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  17. ^ a b Beltramo Álvarez, Andrés (7 December 2017). "Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes is Mexico's new primate". La Stampa. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  18. ^ "Mexican archbishop elected new president of CELAM". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Latin American Bishops Elect Leader From Mexico". Zenit. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  20. ^ a b Valence, Gianni (1 June 2011). "Only humility keeps us free of blackmail". 30Days. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Card. Aguiar Retes, trabajo con compromiso social en Tlalnepantla" (in Spanish). Sistema Informativo de la Arquidiócesis de México. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  22. ^ "Firma Eruviel Ávila pacto con asociaciones religiosas para el fortalecimiento de valores y reconstrucción del tejido social". Crónica (in Spanish). 12 December 2014. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  23. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 2018.09.12" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  24. ^ "Full Text of Interventions at Synod of Bishops". Zenit. 11 October 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  25. ^ "Report on the Continents Delivered at Synod of Bishops". Zenit. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  26. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (12 October 2012). "An Asian plea for humility at the Synod of Bishops". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  27. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (9 October 2012). "On day two of synod, reminders of a steep climb". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  28. ^ Agren, David (23 March 2012). "Waiting for the pope: Vatican flags, human wall – and hope for peace". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  29. ^ "Archbishop Carlos Aquiar Retes: 'Meeting with Francis Filled Us With Great Joy'". Zenit. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  30. ^ "Synod14: Officials Give Initial Impressions". Zenit. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  31. ^ "Synod Turns to More Tough Issues". Zenit. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  32. ^ "Vatican Releases Full List of Synod Participants". Zenit. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  33. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (13 October 2014). "Synod releases document with new tone, calling for mercy, listening". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  34. ^ "Annuncio di Concistoro il 19 novembre per la creazione di nuovi Cardinali" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 9 October 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  35. ^ "Carlos Aguiar Retes, el sexto cardenal mexicano". Excelsior (in Spanish). 19 November 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  36. ^ "Cardinal O'Malley Is Appointed Member of Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith". Zenit. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  37. ^ Beltramo Álvarez, Andrés (7 December 2017). "Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes is Mexico's new primate". La Stampa. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  38. ^ Rodríguez, Juan Carlos (8 December 2017). "Aguiar hallará una Arquidiócesis Primada en ruinas". Eje Central (in Spanish). Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  39. ^ "Carlos Aguiar Retes toma posesión como arzobispo primado de México". CBS News. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  40. ^ Lamb, Christopher (7 December 2017). "Pope Names New Archbishops of Paris and Mexico City". The Tablet. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  41. ^ Alire Garcia, David (11 December 2020). "Mexico's senior Catholic leader backs civil unions for gay couples". Reuters. Retrieved 6 January 2023.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Margin Camerino Torreblanca Reyes
Bishop of Texcoco
28 May 1997 – 5 February 2009
Succeeded by
Juan Manuel Mancilla Sanchez
Preceded by General Secretary of the Latin American Episcopal Council
2000 – 2003
Succeeded by
Ramón Benito de La Rosa y Carpio
Preceded by First Vice-President of the Latin American Episcopal Council
2003 – 12 December 2007
Succeeded by
Preceded by
José Guadalupe Martín Rábago
President of the Mexican Episcopal Conference
2006 – 14 November 2012
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Ricardo Guízar Diaz
Archbishop of Tlalnepantla
5 February 2009 – 7 December 2017
Succeeded by
Jose Antonio Fernández Hurtado
Preceded by President of the Latin American Episcopal Council
19 May 2011 – 13 May 2015
Succeeded by
Preceded by Cardinal-Priest of Santi Fabiano e Venanzio a Villa Fiorelli
19 November 2016 –
Preceded by Archbishop of Mexico
7 December 2017 –