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Luque, Crisanto

LUQUE, CRISANTO

Archbishop of Bogotá and first Colombian cardinal; b. Tenjo, Feb. 1, 1889; d. Bogotá, May 7, 1959. Luque was ordained in 1916, appointed auxiliary bishop of Tunja in 1931, and bishop in 1932. He visited the various parts of his large diocese, built the episcopal mansion, took an interest in the improvement of the seminary and the religious life of the clergy, and undertook important work on behalf of the poor. In 1950 he was named archbishop of Bogotá, primate of Colombia, to succeed Ismael Perdomo. He was made a cardinal in 1953. He was chief chaplain of the Armed Forces and pontifical legate to the Third National Marian Congress, and he took part in the conclave that elected John XXIII. The governments of Colombia, Venezuela, Spain, Ecuador, and Brazil conferred high decorations on him.

While bishop of Tunja, Luque founded, and later protected, the radio schools of Sutatenza that provided the farm workers with lessons in reading and writing and religious and civic training. The radio schools were later extended to other countries and recommended by UNESCO. He founded, in Bogotá, the Parochial Union of the South that brought together parishes of the working-class districts, with their population of half a million faithful, to solve religious and social problems in common. It was an experiment in priestly teamwork that was effective in combatting communism. He convoked and presided over the First National Assembly of Catholic Workers and the First National Pastoral Congress, and encouraged Social Weeks and Congresses of Social Action. He established the Center of Social Research for the guidance of the pastorate. The opening of the new archiepiscopal palace, the creation of numerous parishes, and the intensification of catechistic campaigns were additional achievements of his regime. He was one of the most effective promoters of the consejo episcopal latinoamericano (CELAM), and presided over various episcopal conferences with great success, winning united support for his undertakings.

Luque collaborated actively with the various civil government administrations to combat the violence that plagued Colombia. In religion and in politics, his actions were prudent and benefited the public generally. In 1953 General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla led a coup d'état that overthrew the conservative Laureano Gómez. The Rojas movement was legalized by the National Constitutent Assembly, and the cardinal, after consulting with the historically important parties, recognized the new government. However, when it took the path of dictatorship, he energetically defended democratic principles and acted on the side of the people and the students, who overthrew the dictator. Luque maintained excellent relations with the new National Front government, headed by Alberto Lleras, and was able through constitutional reform, voted by plebiscite, to secure political recognition of Catholicism as an essential element of the social order.

During his reign, the religious struggle of the parties largely ceased, and the Colombians reconciled themselves somewhat on Catholic principles. Thanks to his work, backed by the bishops, the Church gained prestige, respect, and acceptance. He had a gift for governing and deserved to be called the archbishop of the peasants and the workers.

[r. gÓmez hoyos]

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