Norberto Rivera Carrera

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Norberto Rivera Carrera
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of Mexico City
Primate Emeritus of Mexico
Norberto Rivera (cropped).jpg
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed13 June 1995
Retired7 December 2017
PredecessorErnesto Corripio y Ahumada
SuccessorCarlos Aguiar Retes
Other post(s)Cardinal Priest of S. Francesco d'Assisi a Ripa Grande
Member of Council for the Economy
Ordination3 July 1966
by Pope Paul VI
Consecration21 December 1985
by Antonio López Aviña
Created cardinal21 February 1998
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Born (1942-06-06) 6 June 1942 (age 80)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post(s)
Alma materPontifical Gregorian University
MottoLumen gentium
("Light of the nations")
SignatureNorberto Rivera Carrera's signature
Coat of armsNorberto Rivera Carrera's coat of arms
Styles of
Norberto Rivera Carrera
Coat of arms of Norberto Rivera Carrera.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
Ordination history of
Norberto Rivera Carrera
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated byAntonio López Aviña (Durango)
Date21 December 1985
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Norberto Rivera Carrera as principal consecrator
José de Jesús Martínez Zepeda12 April 1997
Marcelino Hernández Rodríguez5 February 1998
Felipe Tejeda García4 March 2000
José Luis Fletes Santana4 March 2000
Guillermo Rodrigo Teodoro Ortiz Mondragón4 March 2000
Francisco Clavel Gil27 June 2001

Norberto Rivera Carrera (born 6 June 1942) is a Mexican prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who was archbishop of Mexico City from 1995 to 2017. He was made a cardinal in 1998. He was Bishop of Tehuacán from 1985 to 1995.

Early life and ministry[edit]

Norberto Rivera Carrera was born in La Purísima, a small town in Tepehuanes Municipality, to Ramón Rivera Cháidez and Soledad Carrera; he has a sister who is a nun. His father immigrated to the United States to support the family. Rivera entered the seminary of Durango in 1955. He later studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he obtained his licentiate in theology. He was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Paul VI on 3 July 1966.

From 1967 to 1985, Rivera did pastoral work in Durango and Zacatecas while serving as a professor of dogmatic theology and the prefect of discipline at the Durango seminary. He also directed Social Communications for the Archdiocese of Durango, was the diocesan advisor to the Christian Family Movement, and taught ecclesiology at the Pontifical University of Mexico from 1982 to 1985. While at the Pontifical University, he founded the Movement for the Days of Christian Life.

Episcopal career[edit]

On 5 November 1985, Pope John Paul II appointed Rivera Bishop of Tehuacán. Archbishop Antonio López Aviña consecrated him bishop on 21 December with Archbishops Adolfo Suárez Rivera and Rosendo Huesca Pacheco as co-consecrators. He headed the Mexican Episcopal Conference's Commission for the Family from 1989 to 1995 and the Family Section of the Latin American Episcopal Conference from 1993 to 1995.

Rivera was appointed archbishop of Mexico City on 13 June 1995. John Paul II made him cardinal priest of S. Francesco d'Assisi a Ripa Grande in the consistory of 21 February 1998.[1]

In 2001, he called charges of sexual abuse on the part of Marcial Maciel Degollado, the leader of the Legion of Christ, "a plot."[2] In 2002, Rivera criticized the US media for its coverage of clergy sexual abuse. He called it "an orchestrated plan for striking at the prestige of the Church." He compared it to "what happened in the past century with the persecutions in Mexico, in Spain, in Nazi Germany and in communist countries."[3]

Rivera was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. He was mentioned as a possible choice for pope at the time,[4] as he had been years earlier.[5][6]

Within the Latin American Episcopal Conference, Rivera served as President of the Episcopal Committee of Culture from 2004 to 2006. He is also a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He was made a member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life in 2014.[7]

In 1996, he forced the resignation of the abbot of the basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe after he had questioned the historical truth of Mary's appearance to Juan Diego.[8] He denounced the legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in 2009 and 2010. He said: "Our children and youth run the grave risk of seeing these types of unions as normal and they can falsely understand that sexual differences are simply a personality type.... Homosexual acts, in effect, close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not come from a true affective and sexual complementarity."[9][10]

In 2011, as the Supreme Court of Mexico prepared to deliberate on a ruling proposed by Justice Fernando Franco that would overturn anti-abortion constitutional amendments enacted in numerous Mexican states.[11] Rivera Carrera said that "abortion is never a solution for anything." On 25 September he said: "The Church always reaches out to pregnant women who are being pressured at work, by family members or friends to remind each one of them of the great value of motherhood." He noted that the Mexican bishops emphasized that the "taking of human life through the various abortifacient techniques must not be tolerated, and the taking of the life a human being, even in its initial phases, is not licit."[12]

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.[13]

On 13 February 2016, Francis addressed the bishops of Mexico and appeared to castigate them: "Do not lose time or energy in secondary things, in gossip or intrigue, in conceited schemes of careerism, in empty plans for superiority, in unproductive groups that seek benefits or common interests. Do not allow yourselves to be dragged into gossip and slander."[14] In March, an editorial in the newspaper of the Mexico City Archdiocese defended the bishops and said that the pope had received "bad advice". Observers identified Rivera as both a target of the pope's speech and the source of the editorial response.[15]

Sexual abuse case[edit]

Beginning in 1989, Los Angeles prosecutors pursued a Mexican priest on charges of sexual abuse while he was stationed in the US for more than a decade. A lawsuit filed there charged that as Bishop of Tehuacán and Los Angeles Cardinal, Roger Mahony had shielded a priest abuser.[16][17] Rivera said that when he approved the priest's transfer to Los Angeles, he had heard "accusations of homosexuality, but not of pedophilia."[18] Rivera asked the Vatican to laicize the priest in 2007.[19]


Rivera was admitted to the hospital on January 12, 2021, suffering from COVID-19.[20] His former spokesperson, Hugo Valdemar Romero, said that Rivera was in intensive care and that the archdiocese had refused to pay his expenses. Rivera received the Anointing of the Sick on January 19.[21][22] Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes said that the Archdiocese would pay for Carrera's and other clerics' care in a public hospital "because of the economic situation experienced by the Church throughout the country and in communion and solidarity with what thousands of Mexicans have lived during this pandemic", but Carrera had chosen to leave a public hospital, Hospital Ángeles Mocel, for a private hospital.[23] The Archdiocese of Mexico announced in early March that Carrera had left the hospital.[24]


  1. ^ Cardinale, Gianni (June 2002). "Il primo santo indio e l'assassinio del cardinale". 30 Giorni (in Italian). Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  2. ^ Berry, Jason; Renner, Gerald (7 December 2001). "Sex-related case blocked in Vatican". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  3. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (19 July 2002). "U.S. media in anti-church plot says Mexican prelate". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  4. ^ "Who Will Be the Next Pope?". National Catholic Reporter. 2005. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  5. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (20 May 2001). "Cardinals Campaign, Very Delicately, for Pope". New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  6. ^ Goodstein, Laurie; Fisher, Ian (17 April 2005). "Cardinals Align as Time Nears to Select Pope". New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  7. ^ Glatz, Carol (31 March 2014). "Pope confirms heads of Vatican curial agencies". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  8. ^ Dillon, Sam (8 September 1996). "Doubting Keeper of Mexico's Guadalupe Shrine Is Stepping Down". New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Cardinal Laments Same-Sex 'Marriage' Law". Zenit. 23 December 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  10. ^ Malkin, Elizabeth (6 February 2010). "Gay Marriage Puts Mexico City at Center of Debate". New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  11. ^ Catholic News Agency, 27 September 2011
  12. ^ "Abortion solves nothing, Mexican cardinal tells court". Catholic News Agency. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  13. ^ "List of Cardinal Electors". Zenit. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  14. ^ Malkin, Elizabeth (13 February 2016). "Francis Admonishes Bishops in Mexico to 'Begin Anew'". New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 'I have never seen a scolding so severe, so drastic, so brutal to any bishops' group,' said Roberto Blancarte, a scholar of the Mexican church at the Colegio de México. 'The bishops will have to examine their consciences.'
  15. ^ San Martín, Inés (9 March 2016). "Newspaper close to Mexican cardinal says pope got 'bad advice' on trip". Crux. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Demanda improcedente contra el cardenal Rivera Carrera en Estados Unidos". Zenit (in Spanish). 3 March 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  17. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (2 March 2011). "Sex abuse ruling in Los Angeles doesn't affect Vatican, attorney says". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  18. ^ McKinley Jr., James C. (21 October 2006). "Accused Priest Flees From Law in U.S. and Mexico". New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  19. ^ McKinley Jr., James C. (12 January 2007). "Mexico: Vatican Punishment Asked for Priest". New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  20. ^ "El cardenal Norberto Rivera Carrera fue trasladado al hospital por COVID-19". infobae (in European Spanish). Infobae. 17 January 2021. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  21. ^ Vara, Rodrigo (19 January 2021). "Dan la extremaunción a Norberto Rivera; exvocero acusa a la Arquidiócesis de abandonar al cardenal". (in Spanish). Proceso. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  22. ^ Vara, Rodrigo (19 January 2021). "Afirman que Norberto Rivera carece de recursos para pagar el hospital". (in Spanish). Proceso. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  23. ^ "Mexico archdiocese denies claim it has abandoned ill former archbishop". Catholic News Agency. 22 January 2021. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  24. ^ "El cardenal Norberto Rivera ya salió del hospital tras estar delicado por COVID-19". Infobae (in Spanish). 5 March 2021. Retrieved 2 August 2021.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Rafael Ayala y Ayala
Roman Catholic Bishop of Tehuacan
5 November 1985 – 13 June 1995
Succeeded by
Mario Espinosa Contreras
Preceded by Roman Catholic Archbishop of Mexico
13 June 1995 – 7 December 2017
Succeeded by
Preceded by Cardinal Priest of San Francesco d'Assisi a Ripa Grande
21 February 1998 – present