Cardinal watch: Cardinal Quezada Toruño turns 80

While last month’s consistory raised the number of cardinal electors to 125 (5 more than the upper limit established by Pope Paul VI), natural processes are starting to bring that number down. Cardinals over 80 are no longer eligible to vote in a conclave, and today Rodolfo Cardinal Quezada Toruño joins that group, which now numbers 89.

Born in Guatemala City in 1932, Rodolfo Quezada Toruño was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Guatemala in 1956, with a Licentiate in Theology from the University of Innsbruck in Austria and a Doctorate in Canon Law from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University in his pocket. He held several teaching positions and was the first rector of Guatemala’s National Major Seminary of the Assumption.

In 1972, aged 40, Fr. Quezada Toruño was appointed as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Zacapa. In 1975, he was appointed as Coadjutor Bishop of that same diocese. In 1980 he succeeded Bishop Costantino Luna Pianegonda. From 1988 to 1992, and again from 2002 to 2006, he was president of Guatemala’s Bishops’ Conference.

In the 1990’s Bishop Quezada Toruño became a national hero as he led two organisations that played an important role in brokering a peace agreement that ended 36 years of civil war. His assistant in this work, Bishop Juan Gerardi, auxiliary bishop of Guatemala, was viciously beaten to death in 1998.

21 years after his consecration, in the summer of 2001, Bishop Quezada Toruño became the 36th Archbishop of Guatemala, his home diocese. He was created a cardinal in the conclave of 21 October 2003, the last one called by Blessed Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Quezada Toruño is the first cardinal-priest of San Saturnino. On 2 October 2010 he retired as Guatemala’s archbishop.

Cardinal Quezada Toruño is a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Photo credit: Estudio Esquipulas, via Wikipedia