Pope Francis Names Archbishop Who Baptized Children Of Transgender Couple
Bishop Garcia Cueva has long been known as one of Argentina's 'slum priests'.
Today, Pope Francis named Bishop Jorge Ignacio García Cuerva of Rio Gallegos, Argentina, as the new archbishop of Buenos Aires – a post that the pontiff himself once held. Replacing Archbishop Mario Poli, García Cuerva is 55 years old.
Bishop García Cuerva will become the 13th archbishop of Buenos Aires, taking over from Archbishop Poli who reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in November 2022 and is currently serving as apostolic administrator. Garcia Cueva’s elevation was announced simultaneously in Rome and Argentina.
Garcia Cueva was born in Rio Gallegos, the capital of the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz. He studied philosophy and theology in San Isidro – a wealthy suburb of Buenos Aires. He holds a licentiate in theology with a specialization in the history of the church, as well as a civil law degree from the Catholic University of Salta.
Garcia Cueva has a reputation for being one of a number of so-called slum priests (curas villeros), having served as a vicar at Nuestra Señora de la Cava parish, which is located in a slum near the center of San Isidro between 1997 and 2005. There he lived in a shack with a tin roof attached to the church, and gained a reputation for hard work. He later became pastor at at Santa Clara de Asís parish in the impoverished and dangerous delta región of the River Plate known as Tigre.
Garcia Cueva also known to have baptized the two children in the custody of Florencia de la V, a transvestite man whose original name was Roberto Carlos Trinidad. He became the first person in Argentine history to have the designation of his natural sex officially changed to conform to his self-professed sexual identity. The former Trinidad is civilly married to a man. Several other priests apart from Garcia Cueva had refused to baptize the children.
Garcia Cueva also served as vicepresident of Catholic Charities of San Isidro, and as chaplain at several prisons. In 2018, Pope Francis named him bishop of Lacubaza and auxiliary bishop of Lomas de Zamora, both of which are working class districts of Greater Buenos Aires. Then in 2019, he was named to the see at Rio Gallegos. In another promotion, the pontiff named him to the Vatican’s Dicastery of Bishops in 2021.
Garcia Cueva got to know Pope Francis better during the month he spent in Rome at Casa Santa Marta: the hotel operated by the Holy See where the pope resides. It is reported that the two compatriots spent time together eating meals together. “He received me with all of the kindness of a father. I came to work at the congregation of the bishops and he told me, ‘Why don’t we share something more ordinary’ in more familiar terms,” Garcia Cueva said in a 2022 radio interview upon his return from Rome.
The diocese of Buenos Aires was founded in 1629 by Pope Paul V, while it was elevated to archdiocesan status in 1865 by Pope Pius IX. In 1936, Pope Pius XI declared it the primatial see of Argentina. Buenos Aires bears the name of Our Lady of Fair Winds, which is one of the titles of the Virgin Mary and patroness of sailing ships and sailors. The Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria or 'Fair Winds' is located in Sardinia.
The archdiocese covers the entirety of the city of Buenos Aires, the national capita, and nearby Martin Garcia Island. The city has a population of 3.1 million. Of these, about 80 are Catholic. However, a bishop said in a confidential interview that no more than 10 percent of the entire population of Argentina are regular church-goers. According to Annuario Pontificio, the archdiocese comprises 186 parishes, 188 churches and chapel, 784 priests, 6 permanent deacons, 76 professed religious brothers, 43 seminarians, 1,430 nuns, and 663 schools.