GUATEMALA CITY, JAN. 7, 2002 ( The Catholic Church in Guatemala is willing to forgive the murderers of Bishop Juan Gerardi, and even to ask for a reduction in their prison sentences, if justice is carried out, an archbishop says.

"We want to know the truth" regarding the April 1998 murder of the bishop, Metropolitan Archbishop Rodolfo Quezada of Guatemala said during a press conference.

"We want justice to be done and, once the truth is known and justice is effected, I am sure that Bishop Gerardi´s family, the Archdiocese of Guatemala, and the Catholic Church itself, are willing to forgive," the archbishop added.

"Forgiveness means to pardon the wrong and also to request that punishment, if it exists, be reduced [...] all within the line that the Pope requests from us: ´no peace without justice; no justice without forgiveness,´" the archbishop stressed.

Three military men and a priest were sentenced to prison June 8 for their roles in the brutal murder of Bishop Gerardi.

The court sentenced retired Colonel Disrael Lima Estrada, former chief of Military Intelligence; his son, Captain Byron Lima Oliva; and former military Sergeant Obdulio Villanueva to 30 years in prison for the murder. Father Mario Orantes was sentenced to 20 years for complicity in the crime.