Archbishop-elect José Cobo of Madrid, Spain. / Credit: Archdiocese of Madrid

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 12, 2023 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

After his appointment as archbishop of Madrid became official, José Cobo said he sees a need to “reposition the Church” in a changing society.

Cobo’s appointment as the new archbishop to replace retired Cardinal Carlos Osoro was made official June 12. He has been serving as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Madrid since 2018.

Asked at a press conference what he can contribute going forward as one of the youngest prelates of the Spanish episcopate, Cobo said: “We can bring the capacity or the desire to reposition the Church within our world. Perhaps in different ways, with other languages.”

The newly appointed archbishop said that it is not a question of “abandoning the parameters of what has already been done, nor of what it means to be a bishop, because this will never change” but rather of “providing a vision of new challenges that are appearing in our society, which is changing at a dizzying rate.”

“It’s not so much about innovating as it is about embodying the Gospel message in the reality that we have,” he stressed.

After his installation on July 8, Cobo said that his “first [step] will be to listen” through meetings with “all those who have a responsibility in the diocese” and the presbytery.

He noted that there will be three words “that will accompany us throughout the Church: participation, communion, and mission,” which he considers “a good focal point, a good template to start a new stage.”

‘Like a groom before the wedding’

The new archbishop commented that “Madrid is an exciting diocese, because it has an overflowing lay life” in which there are “plenty of lively and strong communities.”

For this reason, he said he feels “like a bride or groom before the wedding: You become dizzy due to the immensity of what marriage means, but when you’re in love, these things become easier. I find myself in love with the Lord and with the mission he is entrusting to me.”

From now on, he said, he is ready to “guide, preach, celebrate, but above all accompany, so that the diocese gets to where God wants it to go.”

More than 40 years in Madrid

Although born in Andalusia in the country’s far south, Cobo has been in Madrid in central Spain since the 1980s, when he went to the capital to study law at the Complutense University, from which he graduated in 1988.

That same year he entered the seminary, where he completed his theology studies. From 1994-1996, he studied morality at the Pontifical University of Comillas.

Ordained in 1994, he has been assistant chaplain for the Brotherhood of Labor in Madrid, a Catholic lay association; a parochial vicar; and archpriest. From 2000-2015 he served as a parish priest, and from 2000-2012 he was a member of the Presbyteral Council.

He has also taught at the School for Pastoral Workers in Madrid and at the Center for Social Studies of Diocesan Caritas.

From 2015-2017 he served as episcopal vicar until his appointment as an auxiliary bishop in late 2017.

He was ordained a bishop in 2018 and directed the prison ministry department of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE) for three years. Cobo is part of the Social Ministry of the CEE and has served as head of the Migration Department since 2019.

His pastoral activity has been characterized by a special closeness to the poorest and most needy, already demonstrated when as a layman he collaborated with Project Man in caring for people with AIDS.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.