Guatemala City (Agenzia Fides) - "On this April 26, just two days after publicly presenting the conclusions of the Historical Memory Recovery Project (REMHI, Recuperacion de la memoria historica), we commemorate the 25th anniversary of Monsignor Juan José Gerardi Conedera assassination. Within the framework of the REMHI project, the testimonies of hundreds of victims of the internal armed conflict in Guatemala have been collected with the aim of giving these people the opportunity to express their pain and suffering and to start a process of healing, as well as to support the communities affected by violence and fratricidal war on the path towards reconciliation", says a statement from the Guatemalan Bishops' Conference published today, April 26, commemorating the tragic death of Monsignor Gerardi Conedera in 1998.
The Bishops recall that Juan José Gerardi Conedera was Bishop of the diocese of Verapaz and El Quiché, where he was able to share the reality of peoples and, together with his collaborators, made an important contribution on the part of the Church to the process of peace, justice and reconciliation. "For these reasons," the bishops conclude, "we invite the communities to keep alive the memory of this brave bishop, who was a witness of love and solidarity. Thanks to his testimony, we all feel encouraged to work for a different Guatemala, where the atrocities of the past will never be repeated".
During the night between Sunday, April 26 to Monday, April 27, 1998, Monsignor Juan Gerardi Conedera, then Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Guatemala, was assassinated in the capital of Guatemala. The killer waited for the Prelate at the door of his garage, hit him several times on the head with a stone and fled. As head of the archdiocese's human rights office, Monsignor Gerardi was a leader in church and society, always committed to helping the most vulnerable and oppressed, especially the victims of the long civil war, and to the difficult national peace process.
Born on December 27, 1922, Juan Gerardi was ordained a priest on December 21, 1946. Appointed Bishop of Vera Paz (Coban) on July 30, 1967, he was transferred on August 22, 1974 to Santa Cruz in Quiché, a particularly embattled area where there were frequent clashes between revolutionaries and the army. As a result of his efforts to pacify the country, he became the target of both warring factions, and his diocese became the target of bloody raids. Eventually he was expelled from the country by the incumbent dictator, General Lucas. After a stay abroad, he was finally able to return to Guatemala, where he continued to work intensively for national reconciliation, which was finally sanctioned by the 1996 agreements. Despite this important achievement, he never gave up his commitment to fundamental human rights or his search for justice and truth. (see Fides, 1/5/1998; 26/4/2012; 27/4/2015). (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 26/4/2023)