Guatemala Promises an Impressive Altar for Pope

Nation Preparing for Canonization

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GUATEMALA CITY, JULY 15, 2002 ( This Central American nation is in high gear preparing for John Paul II’s visit this month.

Father Juan Carlos Córdova, spokesman of the commission organizing John Paul II’s visit to Guatemala, said that his country will surprise the Pope and the world on July 30.

On that day the Holy Father will be in Guatemala City to canonize Brother Pedro de San José Betancur, 17th-century apostle of the Indians and slaves, and founder of the Orders of Brothers and Sisters of Bethlehem.

Father Córdova said the celebration is being prepared «according to our own possibilities, the best possible, despite the fact that the announcement of the canonization took us somewhat by surprise, as we thought it would be held in the Vatican.»

Referring to the racetrack where the canonization will take place, the priest said, «The altar that is being built is impressive. I think the representatives of the Vatican will be astounded by the construction under way.»

«I believe that in no instance of the history of the two previous papal visits have we had something so monumental, so beautiful, so great,» Father Córdova added.

Moreover, «the government of the republic has been extraordinarily cooperative and receptive to the concerns of the Church. This collaboration has made our work easier,» he said.

Regarding the spiritual preparation of the faithful, Father Córdova explained that «for the past 15 days we have been holding compulsory catecheses,» led by bishops and priests, as well as the Guatemalan episcopal conference, which published a pastoral letter for the occasion.

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