Cardinal Quezada, mediator to end Guatemala’s civil war, dies at 80

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Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruno of Guatemala City, credited with helping to end his country's civil war in the 1990s, died June 4 after a battle with cancer. Cardinal Quezada is pictured celebrating Mass in 2003 in Guatemala City's central plaza. (CNS ph oto/Carlos Lopez-Barillas)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Retired Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruno of Guatemala City, credited with helping to end his country’s civil war in the 1990s, died June 4 at the age of 80.

Pope Benedict XVI, in a condolence message to the archdiocese June 5, said the cardinal had “intensely and generously” served the church and was committed to the task of new evangelization.

Cardinal Quezada had been suffering from cancer.

Born in Guatemala City March 8, 1932, he was ordained to the priesthood Sept. 21, 1956. He was made a bishop in 1972, serving first as auxiliary and later as bishop of Zacapa, which later became the Diocese of Zacapa and Esquipulas. He was appointed archbishop of Guatemala City in 2001.

He had played a key role in negotiating an end to the country’s 36-year civil war, serving as mediator in peace talks among leftist guerrillas, the army and Guatemalan government. The negotiations led to an official end of the war in 1996, when the three parties signed sweeping peace accords.

Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal in 2003.

Cardinal Quezada’s death leaves the College of Cardinals with 209 members, 122 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.

— By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service 

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