Roberto González Nieves

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Roberto Octavio González Nieves

Archbishop of San Juan
Archbishop Roberto González Nieves.jpg
ArchdioceseSan Juan
AppointedMarch 26, 1999
InstalledMay 8, 1999
PredecessorLuis Aponte Martínez
OrdinationMay 8, 1977
by Lorenzo Michele Joseph Graziano
ConsecrationOctober 3, 1988
by Bernard Francis Law, John O'Connor, and Luis Aponte Martinez
Personal details
Born (1950-06-02) June 2, 1950 (age 72)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post(s)
Alma mater
Styles of
Roberto Octavio Gonzalez Nieves
Coat of arms of Roberto Octavio Gonzalez Nieves.svg
Reference styleThe Most Reverend
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleArchbishop

Roberto Octavio González Nieves, O.F.M. (born June 2, 1950) is a Puerto Rican prelate of the Catholic Church and the highest ranking official of the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico. He has been the Archbishop of San Juan since 1999.

He has been a bishop since 1988 and was Auxiliary Bishop of Boston from 1988 to 1995, and Bishop of Corpus Christi from 1997 to 1999 after two years as coadjutor. He devoted his first decade as a priest to pastoral work in the Bronx, New York City.


Early life and education[edit]

Roberto Octavio González Nieves was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on June 2, 1950 to Puerto Rican parents.[1] He attended Academia Santa Monica in Santurce, a district of San Juan, and then began his priestly formation at St. Joseph Seraphic Minor Seminary in Callicoon, New York. He graduated from Siena College in Loudonville, New York, in 1970.

He was accepted as a candidate for the Franciscans at Christ House in Lafayette, New Jersey, in 1970 and he entered the novitiate of the Order at St. Francis Friary in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1971. He professed his first vows in 1972.[2]

González earned a Master of Sacred Theology degree at the Washington Theological Coalition (later, the Washington Theological Union) in Silver Spring, Maryland. He completed his doctorate in sociology at Fordham University and authored The Hispanic Catholic in the United States: a Socio-Cultural and Religious Profile.

Early career[edit]

On May 8, 1977, González was ordained a priest. Beginning in 1982, served at St. Pius V Parish in the South Bronx, and then at Holy Cross Church, also in the Bronx. From 1986 to 1988, he served as pastor of that parish. In 1987 New York City Mayor Ed Koch included him on his list of his six appointees to the New York City Police Review Panel.[3]

Auxiliary Bishop of Boston[edit]

On July 19, 1988, Pope John Paul II appointed him an auxiliary bishop of the Boston, serving under Cardinal Bernard Francis Law. González became popular with the Hispanic community of the region.

Bishop of Corpus Cristi[edit]

On May 16, 1995, González was appointed coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi in Texas. On April 1, 1997, he succeeded as bishop of the diocese. He was very popular with the Hispanic community.

Archbishop of San Juan[edit]

On March 26, 1999, González was appointed archbishop of San Juan by Pope John Paul II.[4] He was installed as archbishop on May 8. Attendees included the mayor of San Juan Sila Calderón, former Governor Carlos Romero Barceló, and other Puerto Rican political figures. González' retiring predecessor Cardinal Luis Aponte Martínez observed that the ceremony marked the first time that a Puerto Rican archbishop handed the see over to another Puerto Rican archbishop.

Almost immediately, González raised his profile across the island. In September 1999, he joined Rev. Jesse Jackson at an interfaith prayer service in East Harlem in New York City, where he preached in Spanish on themes of Puerto Rican nationalism and anti-colonialism. He distanced himself from any specific position on the legal status of Puerto Rico, but said he favored institutions that "foster the national identity of the Puerto Rican people".[5] He has articulated outspoken and often controversial views, particularly in defense of the Navy-Vieques protests and in his denunciation of homosexuality, among other things.[6] His actions in the Vieques Protests won him international notoriety, and he has been viewed as a strong Latin-American leader of the Catholic Church.

He has proclaimed his pride in being Puerto Rican, asked the Government to work hard to preserve the national identity of Puerto Ricans, and criticized political corruption in Puerto Rico.[7]

During the spring of 2006, along with several Protestant leaders, he was instrumental in persuading Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, Senate President Kenneth McClintock, and House Speaker José Aponte Hernández to resolve Puerto Rico's fiscal crisis, which had sparked a two-week-long government shutdown.[8]

Since 2013, filmmaker Richard Rossi has promoted the cause for sainthood of baseball legend Roberto Clemente, a process which needs to begin in the Archdiocese of San Juan where Clemente died. Despite periodic false reports of action on the part of the Vatican or Pope Francis, the archdiocese has not confirmed that the process has begun. Rossi has said that Gonzalez "has been less passionate than Pope Francis" about Clemente's chances, but the Washington Post was unable as of 2017 to establish that the pope is aware of the case.[9][10][11] Gonzalez has not made his views known.[citation needed]

Also in 2013, reports emerged that Gonzalez had resisted repeated requests by the Vatican for him to resign and request another assignment. Gonzalez alleged that the requests were politically motivated, according to a leaked email, and has continued to remain in his position as of July 2022.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paredes, Mario; Caulfield, Brian. "With His People: Archbishop Gonzalez goes home as head of San Juan Archdiocese". Catholic New York. Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  2. ^ Cheney, David. "Archbishop Roberto Octavio González Nieves, O.F.M." Catholic-Hierarchy. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  3. ^ "From Priest to Economist: a Look at Police Panel Members". New York Times. September 5, 1987. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  4. ^ "With His People". Catholic New York. Archived from the original on September 22, 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  5. ^ Waldman, Amy (September 19, 1999). "Prayers Turn Political on the Future of Puerto Rico". New York Times. Retrieved March 19, 2022.
  6. ^ Vidal, Jose. "A Government Cannot Oblige Religions to Go Against Their Convictions (Part 1)". Zenit. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  7. ^ Martin, Michelle. "Archbishop visits to cement bonds". Catholic New World. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Archbishop Becomes Referee". HNP Today. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  9. ^ Payne, Marissa (August 17, 2017). "Vatican dispels claim that Roberto Clemente is on his way to sainthood". Washington Post. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  10. ^ Withiam, Hannah (August 17, 2017). "The complicated battle over Roberto Clemente's sainthood". New York Post. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  11. ^ "No, Pope Francis did not beatify Roberto Clemente". Angelus News. Catholic News Agency. 19 August 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  12. ^ Wills, Santiago (2013-05-08). "Pope Francis' First Crisis? Defiant Archbishop Refuses to Quit". ABC News. Retrieved 2022-07-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Boston
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Coadjutor Bishop of Corpus Christi
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of Corpus Christi
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of San Juan
Succeeded by