Guatemalan Archbishop Given Top National Honor

President Awards the Order of Quetzal

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Metropolitan Archbishop Prospero Penados del Barrio was awarded the Order of Quetzal this week by Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo, who referred to the archbishop as «Guatemala´s pastor.»

President Portillo praised Archbishop Penados´ work, especially for the country´s poorest.

During a ceremony, both the president and the Archbishop honored the memory of Auxiliary Bishop José Juan Gerardi, 75, of the Archdiocese of Guatemala, killed because of his work as director of the Archdiocese´s Human Rights Office. He was attacked and killed outside his home in April 1998 near the San Sebastian Church in central Guatemala City.

The auxiliary had which promoted the interdiocesan Recovery of the Historical Memory (REMHI) project. He was also the author of the report entitled, «Never Again, Guatemala,» which referred to the deaths that took place during the country´s civil war.

In statements broadcast today by Vatican Radio´s Spanish weekly news service, the Guatemalan president said that Archbishop Penados «was destined to suffer, he was threatened, and suffered profoundly the violent death of Bishop Gerardi, his most faithful and close collaborator.»

Archbishop Penados was grateful for the honor, but added, «I am a useless servant; I have done no more than comply with my duty.» He took advantage of the opportunity to appeal to the government to manage public affairs more honestly.

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