A statue of Jesus Christ in Guatemala, known as Jesús de la Merced, was denied a promotion to the rank of a general on Sunday, AFP reported. The parish priest of the church where the statue is kept had made the promise during a Christmas Eve mass. The statue was first promoted to the rank of army colonel in the 1800s during a devastating cholera outbreak. It was then marched around the country in a bid to combat the epidemic.
Guatemala City's bishop, however, was against the promotion to army general, saying no one consulted him about the ascension. The promotion was also not approved by President Alejandro Maldonado. “As armed forces commander general, I have not sought to grant this symbolic rank to the religious symbol,” he said, adding that he would not approve the move unless suggested to do so by Roman Catholic authorities.
on A beloved statue of Jesus looked likely to get an unsolicited promotion to general in the Guatemalan army — until the church and president stepped in, officials said Saturday.
The statue, known as Jesus de la Merced, is paraded through the streets of the capital ahead of Easter in centuries-old traditions brought in by former colonial power Spain.
The local parish priest in the neighborhood church where the statue is kept, Orlando Aguilar, said in a Christmas Eve mass that on January 3 the statue would be promoted to the rank of general in the Guatemalan army.
Many in the local media got rumors buzzing, and suggested that the honor was to be conferred ahead of the 300th anniversary of the blessing of the statue in 2017.
But the capital’s bishop was up-in-arms.
“Brothers and sisters, as I have said and repeated many times, nobody consulted me about ascending Jesus de la Merced to the rank of general in the army,” Archbishop Oscar Vian said on Twitter.
It’s not the first military promotion given to the statue.
During devastating cholera outbreaks in the 1800s, former president Rafael Carrera (1854-1865) gave the statue the rank of army colonel, and it was marched around Guatemala in an effort to combat cholera.
President Alejandro Maldonado said that he had not approved the promotion to general of the statue.
“As armed forces commander general, I have not sought to grant this symbolic rank to the religious symbol,” he said, stressing that he would never sign one unless Roman Catholic authorities had given their approval.