Born on 28 August 1942 in Caracas, Venezuela. He studied for the priesthood in Venezuela and Toronto and obtained a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
He was ordained to the priesthood on 15 August 1967 in Caracas. He was a professor and rector of San Josť Seminary in Caracas, and then rector of Santa Rosa of Lima Interdiocesan Seminary in Caracas. He was later vicar-general of the Caracas archdiocese.
He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Caracas by Pope John Paul II on 6 July 1982 and consecrated on 22 September 1982. On 16 March 1990, he was appointed Archbishop of Valencia en Venezuela. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Archbishop of Caracas on 19 September 2005 and created him Cardinal in the consistory of 24 March 2006.