New archbishop of Guatemala named

religion | Oct 03, 2010 | By Martin Barillas

The Metropolitan Archbishop of Guatemala City, Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, thanked his fellow Catholic bishops of Guatemala for their help during his term as leader of the Central American republic’s Catholics. At Sunday homily on October 1, he also called upon the faithful to support the new archbishop of Guatemala City, Bishop Oscar Vian Morales, as he begins his episcopacy.

Cardinal Quezada Toruño has been an outspoken defender of human rights and the country’s poor and is frequently at loggerheads with Guatemala’s political elites. He has demanded good governance and has called on President Alvaro Colom to address rampant crime and murder.

Cardinal Quezada Toruño had served as archbishop of Guatemala and the neighboring Sacatepequez region since 2001. In an interview at the beginning of his archepiscopacy, he said that he wished to advance peace and reconciliation in a country long torn by violence and government oppression. Moreover, he said that Guatemalans deserve to “live in a society that is more, just, fraternal, and human.” A participant in negotiations that eventually led to peace accords between the Guatemalan government and armed rebels, the archbishop said that while positive steps have been taken towards peace there is much more work to do.

The incoming archbishop, Bishop Óscar Julio Vian Morales was ordained to the priesthood in 1976. He was born in 1947 to Isidoro Vian and Hortensia Morales, who had three other children. He was named to the see of Los Altos Quetzaltenango - Totonicapán in 2007. Quetzaltenango is the second largest city in Guatemala and close to the Mexican border.

Bishop Vian Morales has also served as Titular Bishop of Pupiana (1996-2007), and Apostolic Vicar of the jungle region of El Petén. He studied at the Don Bosco school in Guatemala City and later graduated from the Salesian seminary in El Salvador. He undertook studies in philosophy, pedagogy, and theology in Guatemala while attending San Carlos University, Francisco Marroquín University, and the Pontifical Salesian University at Rome.

He taught for a time at the Rinaldi Institute in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, Domingo Savio College in Cartago (Costa Rica), and at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Panama.
Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo of Nicaragua ordained Bishop Vian Morales to the priesthood at the Maria Auxiliadora Sanctuary in Guatemala city on August 15, 1976 along with five fellow members of the Salesian Congregation of Don Bosco.

Having been ordained, and bearing a Licentiate in Theology, he became a teacher of mathematics in Panama City at the Don Bosco Tehcnical Institute. After two years, he was sent to Rome to study Sacred Liturgy at the San Anselmo Pontifical Liturgical Institute where he was instructed by Benedictines. While in Rome, Bishop Vian Morales took courses in Sacred Liturgy at the Gregorian University. He studied English in London, and also studied German at Münster, Germany. In Israel, he studied the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church.

pon returning to Central America, he was designated the spiritual director of the Salesian Theologate and administrator of the Salesian Youth Center. Soon after, he was transferred to the Don Bosco Salesian School in Guatemala City as curriculum director. Four years later, he was sent to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to lead the San Miguel School, and later to San Salvador, El Salvador, to serve as counselor to the Salesian Inspector for Central America. In 1990, he was selected by his Province to serve at the General Chapter in Rome.

Bishop Vian Morales has worked to organize several Catholic schools in Central America. At several seminaries in the isthmus, he has taught the Theology of Liturgy, Catechesis, and Youth Ministry.

In December 1996, Apostolic Nuncio Giovanni Morandini, announced in Guatemala that Pope John Paul II had named him as Bishop-Apostolic Vicar of El Petén. He was ordained to the episcopacy in the city of Flores, Petén, on 1 February 1997. Attending the ordination was Cardinal Obando y Bravo as the consecrating minister. Also attending were Apostolic Nuncio Monsignor Giovanni Morandini, Monsignor Rodolfo Bobadilla – predecessor as Apostolic Vicar of El Petén, and twenty other bishops of Guatemala and Central America. He was also named Titular Bishop of Pupiana at the same time.

While serving in El Petén, he said “I will a man of El Peten alongside the people of El Petén,…I want to listen closely to the faithful and work according to the needs of the people.” El Petén is the largest jurisdiction (departamento) in Guatemala. It reaches the borders of Mexico and Belize. It is known worldwide for the ruined ancient Mayan cities such as Tikal, as well as a rainforest that is rapidly disappearing due to human devastation.

Bishop Vian Morales has occupied since 1997 the following positions in the Guatemalan Bishops Conference: President of the Commissions on Liturgy, Youth Ministry, and Clergy; Earth; Education and Social and Pastoral Ministry and Caritas-Guatemala. He also has presided over the Commission on Pastoral and Education Ministry of Central America and Panama.



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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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