Letter to Archbishop Penados on the Death of Bishop Gerardi

June 5, 1998  

Most Reverend Próspero Penados del Barrio
Archbishop of Guatemala
Apartado 723 01001
Ciudad de Guatemala
FAX: (502) 238-0004 

Dear Archbishop Penados, 

As you, and indeed the whole Church of Guatemala, commemorate the forty-day observance of the brutal murder of your beloved auxiliary bishop, Monseñor Juan Gerardi, I write to express the solidarity of the Church in the United States with you, with your fellow bishops, and with all the People of God in Guatemala. 

We in this country have been deeply impressed by the faithful witness of the Church in Guatemala throughout these three decades of internal conflict, vicious repression and violence, a violence that has resulted in the deaths of so many thousands of innocent victims. No small numbers of priests and religious and many hundreds of devoted catechists sealed their Gospel commitment in martyr's blood. And now, when the long sought for peace has finally been achieved, the pastor whose last ministry was that of preserving the awful truth of those years of death and destruction through the inter-diocesan project of recovering the historical memory of that time, has himself been added to the list of the martyrs of Guatemala. 

It is our fervent prayer that his witness, joined with that of the anonymous thousands of other victims of the organized violence of this sad period, indigenous peasants for the most part, may finally bring healing, reconciliation, and true peace with justice to your nation. We support and encourage you in your efforts to uncover the true authors of the murder of Bishop Gerardi; the project for which he gave his life is predicated on the conviction that peace and reconciliation are possible only if the truth is fully known and acknowledged.

With sentiments of deep esteem and with assurance of our prayers, I remain

Fraternally yours in Christ,  

Most Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick
Archbishop of Newark
Chairman, USCC Committee on International Policy