Guatemalan archbishop calls on fellow citizens to re-think national identity

politics | Sep 13, 2010 | By Martin Barillas

Cardenal Rodolfo Quezada Toruno of Guatemala called upon fellow citizens to show solidarity with the country's victims of floods and mudslides, while also calling them to prayer on the coming anniversary of the Central American country's independence from Spain in 1821.

For September 15 festivities, the cardinal is calling upon Guatemalans "At five in the evening - we will pray for our nation. In past years, I issued an invitation to a Te Deum, but now the invitation is for everyone, in order to promote a nationalist feeling.“

Speaking at the end of Mass on September 12 in the cathedral in Guatemala City, Cardinal Quezada Toruno said, "In past years, I issued an invitation, but the high-ranking authorities came and their security nearly filled the cathedral. So, I have decided that everyone should come. Instead of a Te Deum, we will have a prayer led by Monsignor Gustavo Mendoz." The prelate is, however, expecting some government officials to attend the liturgy marking the anniversary.

Cardinal Quezada Toruno called for unity in his country, where there have long been divisions and racism between the Spanish-speaking majority and the indigenous peoples. "The nation is the entire geographic, cultural, ethnic, and spiritual framework that a man or a woman has as a person. This is not an abstract concept; it is something that is real." He added that the country's independence from Spain brought in years of dictatorships, misgovernment, and war besides the marginalization of the indigenous peoples.

Said the cardinal, "It was independence for the Creoles. As long as we do not incorporate the indigenous and their values, we will not truly be a nation."


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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