Diocese of Cleveland's new bishop: 'Faith and culture cannot be separated'

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - Bishop Nelson J. Perez has been named the eleventh Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland. The announcement was made Tuesday morning at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist by acting Bishop Daniel Thomas of Toledo.

Perez was born in Florida in 1961 of parents who fled Cuba.

In a one-on-one interview with Cleveland 19's Paul Orlousky, he spoke on a number of topics. First were his observations on the Diocese of Cleveland.

"Obviously a very vibrant church, with a lot of history, a lot of history. Great number of priests and deacons, and religious you know, a powerful Catholic education system and powerful Catholic Charities," he said.

Perez spoke for a time in Spanish at his introduction. He says he intends to celebrate the cultural diversity in the diocese, and it is his belief that it is a strength of the church.

"Faith and culture cannot be separated," he said. "Faith is embodied and expressed through out cultures whoever from wherever they are and all of them make up what really is the beauty of the Catholic Church."

Perez is keenly aware of the need to reach out to young people, like the thousands moving downtown. He even cited the need to use social media.

"The church has to encounter people where they are, you know, and walk with them from where they are and certainly young people young adults are very close to my heart and I want to reach out to them and learn from them and walk with them," he said.

The new bishop seems to exude a joy. He says it is the gift of his priesthood.

"Doesn't belong to me, it was given to me by the church it belongs to the church, to the people and I've been very joyful, happy to share that gift of the people and really that's the source of my joy," said Perez.

His thoughts were also with retired Bishop Richard Lennon, who stepped aside for health reasons.

"I was very struck by the humility by which he accepted where he was at this point in his journey, and embraced that," he said.

He will become the eleventh bishop of Cleveland at an installation Mass Sept. 5.

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