Modern Day Martyr

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Thursday 26, April 2012 | Category:   Clergy

Juan Gerardi Conedera was born on December 27, 1922, in Guatemala. As a young man he entered into the seminary and was ordained in 1946. After becoming a bishop of Verapaz, Guatemala, Juan worked diligently for official recognition of native Mayan language and helped to create a variety of broadcasts in those languages in 1967.

These were considered to be rough times in Guatemala. Violence rang throughout the country and deadly warfare grew between the army and guerrillas. Many Catholics and Church leaders were murdered. In 1974, after a few years of ongoing violence, Bishop Gerardi was named head of the Diocese of Santa Cruz, right in the heart of the worst killings.

Bishop Gerardi was an advocated to stop the terrorism and work for peace. In 1980, as President of the Guatemalan Conference of Bishops, he traveled to the Vatican to speak on the matter and how it had affected Guatemala. Because of his mission, he was refused re-entry into Guatemala and had to seek refuge in El Salvador. In 1982, Guatemala’s military president was overthrown and Bishop Gerardi returned home where he was then appointed to auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Guatemala City.

As auxiliary bishop, he became very active in human rights and was a part of the human rights commission which chronicled the abuses that were happening in Guatemala during its 36 year civil war. Two days after this commission’s findings were published, Bishop Gerardi was bludgeoned to death in his garage at the age of 75 on this day in 1998. In 2001, three military officers were convicted of the murder of Bishop Gerardi and were each sentenced to 30 year prison terms.

Bishop Gerardi is considered to be a modern-day martyr. As an advocate of human rights, Bishop Gerardi believed in protecting the innocent and treating people with respect and love. Bishop Gerardi worked for peace and justice of those being harmed and he is a great example to all of us by his work and his actions.

So today, let us be inspired to spread peace to each other. Let us pray for peace in the world, like Bishop Gerardi. I would like to share a small prayer for you asking God for peace among the world:

O Almighty God, the Father of all humanity, we pray, the hearts of all peoples and their rulers, that by the power of your Holy Spirit peace may be established among the nations on the foundation of justice, righteousness and truth; through him who was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 --- William Temple (1881-1944)


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