Guatemala City Getting New Archbishop

Bishop Quezada Toruño Was a Mediator of Peace

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 19, 2001 ( John Paul II today appointed Zacapa Bishop Rodolfo Quezada Toruño as new archbishop of Guatemala City.

The new archbishop was a key figure in mediating peace in Guatemala´s 36-year civil war. In 1988, the Guatemalan episcopal conference delegated him and Bishop Juan Gerardi to participate in the National Reconciliation Commission.

At one point, the new archbishop was president of this commission and official conciliator between the government and guerrillas, in the peace process that culminated in 1996. The civil war left 200,000 dead.

He is replacing Archbishop Próspero Penados del Barrio, 75, who resigned for reasons of age. The latter led the archdiocese since 1983, during years that witnessed the murder of catechists, priests, nuns and a bishop.

In those years, Guatemala also became the object of proselytism by U.S.-based Protestants and sects.

Bishop Quezada Toruño was born in Guatemala in 1932. He studied theology in Innsbruck, Austria, and Rome. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Zacapa in 1972. In June 1986, John Paul II appointed him prelate of the Holy Christ of Esquípulas, one of the Americas´ most popular shrines.

Archbishop Penados del Barrio ends his pastoral ministry 18 days after three military men were condemned by Guatemalan justice for the 1998 murder of Auxiliary Bishop Gerardi, director of the archdiocese´s Human Rights Office. The court also sentenced a priest to 20 years in prison for complicity in the killing.

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