Violent death of Bishop Gerardi in Guatemala: CCCB President calls for inquiry

Wednesday, April 29 1998

(Ottawa – CCCB) Following the April 26 assassination of Most Reverend Juan José Gerardi Conedera, Auxiliary Bishop of Guatemala, Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), has asked Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy to intervene immediately with government authorities in Guatemala so they proceed quickly with a full inquiry.

In a letter to the minister dated yesterday, Cardinal Turcotte said, “We are shocked and pained over this crime. We believe that the Government of Canada, as an international defender and promoter of human rights, should demand Guatemalan authorities to bring light to bear on this assassination and to continue efforts to reestablish a climate that is more respectful of human rights.” Recalling the dedication of his episcopal colleague who had spent his life defending and promoting human rights, despite repeated obstacles including death threats against himself and other members of his diocesan Church, Cardinal Turcotte said Bishop Gerardi had ministered to the poorest and most marginalized of Guatemalans, the native people.

In a letter to the Archbishop of Guatemala, the CCCB President on behalf of the Bishops of Canada also conveyed condolences to the people and Church leaders of Guatemala. To express its solidarity with the Church in Guatemala, the CCCB has sent a delegate to the funeral of Bishop Gerardi. Most Reverend François Lapierre, bishop-elect of Saint Hyacinthe and a member of the Quebec-based Foreign Mission Society, has attended the funeral April 29th in Guatemala City cathedral.