His Grace the Right Reverend Bishop José (Cortés y Olmos) of Mexico City was the first bishop of the OCA's Exarchate of Mexico. Bp. José had been bishop of the Mexican National Catholic Church, a Mexican reactionary movement away from the "colonialist" Spanish Roman Catholic Church. He led his church to Orthodox Christianity, petitioning the Orthodox Church in America in 1971 for acceptance. After he and his clergy were accepted as Orthodox priests, he was consecrated Bishop of Mexico City in 1972 to lead his community as an exarchate of the OCA.
The future Bishop José was born in Santa Teresa, Guanajuato, México on August 5, 1923, into a devout Roman Catholic family. His father was Juan José Cortés and his mother María del Refugio Olmos. He began his education in the Santa Teresa Federal School before entering a Jesuit middle school and then a Jesuit seminary. He continued his higher theological education in Barcelona, Spain and in Rome, Italy receiving a Doctorate in Canon Law. After completing his education he moved to Havana, Cuba, where he taught at the Jesuit College of Belén (Spanish for Bethlehem and a fairly common city name). He also was a leader in Cuba in the "Catholic Youth Action" and served local parishes.
He became dissatisfied with the Roman Catholic Church and in 1950 joined the Mexican National Catholic Church. The Mexican National Church had its origins in Mexican reaction to Spanish colonialism. In 1961, he was elected bishop of the National Church. Over the ensuing years, Bishop José and his community learned of the ancient faith of the Orthodox Christians and in 1971 petitioned the newly autocephalous Orthodox Church in America for acceptance of his community and clergy into the Orthodox Church. He was received into the new Exarchate of Mexico with his clergy and community, he and his priests as priests. He then participated in studies at St. Vladimir's Seminary before his consecration as Bishop of Mexico City at the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in New York City on April 22, 1972. He thus became the first bishop of an indigenous Orthodox Church in Mexico.
In addition to his duties in Mexico, during the early years after his consecration, Bp. José traveled under the guidance of Bp. Dmitri of Hartford, who had been appointed Exarch of the Mexican Church, participating for experience in parish level life in the United States.
Bp. José reposed in the Lord on January 28, 1983 after fighting cancer. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, presided at the funeral service in Mexico City on February 1, 1983. It was not until 2005 that a successor to Bp. José was consecrated when Archimandrite Alejo (Pacheco-Vera) was consecrated Bishop of Mexico City on May 28, 2005, at St. Tikhon's Orthodox Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.
|Bishop of Mexico City
- Orthodox America 1794-1976 Development of the Orthodox Church in America, C. J. Tarasar, Gen. Ed. 1975, The Orthodox Church in America, Syosett, New York