Sunday, December 20, 2009

National Caritas statement on violence and human rights

Pastoral Social/Cáritas Honduras
[The national Caritas office]

Statement on the violation of human Rights and the climate of violence

“I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10)

The national consciousness, accustomed to live in a climate of violence, has been shaken in the last few days by the increase of violence, but with clearly political characteristics. This began before June 28, the date on which the replacement of the president happened.

Various persons died during the course of these five months participating in the mobilizations of the population. Apparently calm appeared to have taken place in daily living.

Nevertheless the recorded assassinations signaled the contrary. Such is the case of the defender of Human Rights, Walter Troches, active member of the Resistance Front and the death of Ángel Salgado, assassinated one day before the elections by members of the army. Similarly, the kidnapping of the leader of the resistance in the northern city of Choloma, among others.

We look with concern and under a shadow on the increase of crimes categorized as common crimes in the population: the death of Katherine Nicolle Cabrery Edwin Canaca at the hands of hit-men for reasons which have not yet be made clear.

The absence of a judicial institutional order which is trustworthy and stable, the vacuum of a power with moral legitimacy, has brought it about that violence has made itself the ruling [power] in the Honduran society.

Pastoral Social/Caritas considers and repudiates against every type of action that attacks the sacred right to life, since these actions are a violation of human rights and make the task of reconciliation and seeking peace in the Honduran society more difficult.

We call upon the society and governmental entities to turn back this situation, to be effective in applying justice and to seek honestly paths which lead to peace, to respect for life and human rights.

Tegucigalpa, December 18, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Honduran Bishops on Dialogue

Statement of the Honduran Episcopal Conference on the dialogue

“Let us seek what contributes to peace and make us grow together.” (Romans 14: 19)

1. We, the bishops of the Honduras Bishops’ Conference, meeting in our Ordinary Assembly, feel very united to all the people who, both within and outside of Honduras, have paid attention to the dialogue which is being held in order to seek a constructive exit to the political crisis which our country is living.

2. We have experienced in our own flesh, in the Church and in society, the sufferings, divisions and violence which this prolonged crisis has brought with it. He have lived the worry and the fear that a solution might be sought by the paths of violence.

3. We declare our support of the dialogue which began anew on October 7. In every moment we have advocated for that pedagogy [educational process] of sincere dialogue which diligently seeks the best solution for everyone in charity and truth.

4. We ask those directly involved in the dialogue and those they represent that “everyone of them, overcoming personal inclinations, make efforts to seek the truth and resolutely pursue the common good.” (Words of Pope Benedict XVI about the situation in Honduras at the Angelus, Sunday, July 12, 2009)

5. We cannot continue with the uncertainty, personal and social tension, and the economic deterioration. What is urgent is a solution which is just, peaceful, and agreed upon which “assures peaceful life together and an authentic democratic life.” (Words of Pope Benedict XVI)

6. The presence of members of the Organization of American States, the European Community, and the national and international press is a sign of the interest there is that this dialogue carries the ship of our nation to a good port. The people of Honduras have put many hopes in this national dialogue which cannot remain frustrated since that would lead to a great deception and increasing personal and social tensions.

7. In this climate of dialogue which ought to be respectful and understanding, every form of violence – of word or deed – would be prejudicial and would be an attack on the attitudes which favor dialogue and would lead to a failure of credibility for those who provoked such violence.

8. We believe that the established dialogue is not to be narrowed to a technique of solving conflicts but it has an ethical dimension, since the exercise [of dialogue] implies moral attitudes and is at the service of what is good, just and true for our people. Consequently, those who sit at the “table of dialogue” have a serious responsibility before God and before society which they ought not forget or underestimate.

9. We are conscious that a political agreement is not the total solution to the serious problems which plague Honduras, but at least would place the country in the suitable institutional conditions to confront them, in the framework of a joint plan, with the participation of everyone, in accord with the principle of subsidiarity and with a new style of political working which “places the common good as the principle imperative for the construction of a new society.” (Pastoral Letter of the Honduras Bishops’ Conference, “By the Paths of Hope,” # 15, March, 2006)

10. We are praying persistently and with confidence that God would grant all of us, and especially those responsible for this dialogue, wisdom, capacity to listen, social sensitivity, and a spirit of discernment. We know that other persons are praying for this intention. We invite the Catholic faithful and all believers to intensify that prayer so that God will grant us times of peaceful living together, social justice, and development with solidarity.

Tegucigalpa, October 8, 2009
Signed by the archbishop and the bishops of the country

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Declaration of the national Caritas of Honduras

Declaration on the State of Siege in Honduras


1. Moved by faith in Jesus Christ, the fount of justice, truth, fraternity, peace, and life, Caritas of Honduras declares its deep concern and dismay in the face of the direction the country is going which troubles and frightens even more large parts of the population; therefore, we join the different voices which have let themselves be heard in this moment and we express our longing in order that we together may construct a nation in peace, tranquility, and liberty.

2. The critical situation in which we have lived since before June 28 and which was deepened from that date on, has been exacerbated increasingly until it has come to the taking of extreme measures by those who are now at the front of the nation, such as the declaration of a state of siege for 45 days, an act which we consider disproportionate in terms of the force imposed, as well as illegitimate and an obstacle to dialogue, because it damages the fundamental rights of the person, such as freedom of expression, assembly, association, normal circulation – rights and guarantees contained in articles 69, 72, 78, 81, and 84 of the Constitution of the Republic.

3. We are worried about the manner that in the pursuit of maintaining an alleged social peace, the life and physical integrity of so many people who have participated in the marches of the resistance have been wounded. We reject the death threats that Father Ismael Moreno, S.J., has received and the boycott [interruptions?] of the transmissions of Radio Progreso in the diocese of Yoro, Radio Santa Rosa in Copán and other means of communication.

4. It is urgent to reverse as soon as possible this measure which affects and restricts the liberties of all those of us who live in Honduras, increases the tensions, the fear and aggressiveness in the population, without helping solve the real problem of the country.

5. W e make a call for a frank and true dialogue which involves all sectors without excluding anyone, so that accompanied by a mature reflection we may seek together the spaces which will bring us to consensus, discarding every imposition of political positions and personal or group interests and that for one time we think about the common good of this country.

6. We believe that the plan of life which God has for all of us commits us as citizens to the construction of a nation in which living together as brothers and sisters, respectfully and in a dignified manner, is promoted. We also believe that only with the responsible exercise of freedom can we work for the defense and security of life as a right and a duty of everyone. Therefore, we declare our urgent call and our support of the urgent pursuit of reconciliation and social peace in the framework of a Rule of Law which we all desire to become a reality in our country.

7. Longing for and working for a society built on justice, truth, fraternity and respect for life, we shall achieve peace, tranquility, and freedom for this country.

Tegucigalpa, 30 September, 2009.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

New statement from the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán

Today, September 24, after a four day meeting of the priests with the bishop, this statement was issued. The following is my hurried translation.

Communication of the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán

1. The presbyterate [the priests] of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, always faithful to the values of the Kingdom of God and to the people whom we have been entrusted to shepherd, illumined by the Word of God and the church Magisterium [teaching authority], we have analyzed the phenomenon of the coup d’état and after a mature examination we want to share our reflections about it.

2. We reject the coup d’état because it violates the constitution of the Republic, principally articles 3, 71, 72, 84, and 102, restricts constitutional guarantees, puts the Armed Forces and the National Police in opposition to the humble people, compels the people to insurrection (cf. Constitution article 3), causes instability and unrest in the citizenry, and has caused grief to many families because of homicides, and the wounded and beaten whose number increases every day.

3. The group of families, extremely enriched, with businesses which live from the projects financed by the State with the taxes that the citizenry pays and the money which comes from friendly countries, ought to tell the Honduran people the causes and reasons which brought them to give the coup d’état at the government of José Manuel Zelaya Rosales or discredit the usurper government (cfr. Constitution article 3)

4. We believe that no material good is worth the life of so many persons who by orders of Robert Micheletti Baín, head of the Joint Chief of Staffs General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, minister of security Jorge Alberto Rodas Gamero, advisor Billy Joya and bought about by evil agents of the National Police, and this has been done for the purpose of obstructing the people’s demonstrations.

5. We remind all the citizens that no one owes obedience to a usurper government and that no one ought to obey an order to kill persons. (Cfr. Constitution, Article 3)

6. We hold responsible Mr. Roberto Micheletti Baín, the current National Congress and the magistrates of the Supreme Court for all the damages which have come over the people and their possessions after the coup d’état.

7 . As ordained priests, we are in solidarity with our brother in the priesthood, Father Andrés Tamayo, defender of our forests and prophet of these times, demanding that the Catholic Church should not aid the economically rich group but the poor.

8. The coup d’état is the fruit of the unjust distribution of wealth, which generates in Honduras profound inequalities, in regard to food, work, education, health, the possibility of expression and citizen participation, since 80% of our impoverished people is again victim of a power play, where the pride of the most wealthy wishes to intrude.

9. Called by the cry of many of our Catholic and non-catholic brothers [and sisters], who hope from us a prophetic word, in defense of truth and justice, illuminating from our faith the current circumstances and accompanying the people in their suffering of their struggle for vindication, we cite the words of our beloved Pope Benedict XVI: “To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity. To work for the common good is on the one hand to be solicitous for, and on the other hand to avail oneself of, that complex of institutions that give structure to the life of society, juridically, civilly, politically and culturally.” (Cfr. Caritas in veritate, n. 7)

The words of our Lord Jesus Christ console our people.

“Blessed are the poor, for the Kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed those who hunger and thirst got justice for they shall be filled.” (Cfr. Matthew 5,6)

10. This coup has been the opportunity to seek the aid of all the countries of the United Nations; because all the nations of the world had taken account of the way Honduras was being administered and governed and how the economic aid, which they were contributing for the social and human development of our country, was being used. We cast out an SOS to all men and women of good will. Do not abandon the five million poor and the two and half million indigent [extremely poor’ Honduras, oppressed today by a military dictatorship to which the traitors of the fatherland have closed ranks.

11. We thank Brazil for giving diplomatic asylum to Honduran president José Manuel Zelaya.

12. Concerned about our fatherland, we will not rest until the constitutional order, interrupted by the coup, is reestablished. With the Word of God, the teaching, coming together, prayer, and above all the celebration of the Holy Mass, we hope to overcome (cfr. Acts 2: 42-47).

13. We do not have enemies, if anyone opposes us it is because of fear of the Catholic religion, which the immense majority of the people in western Honduras belong to.

14. Belonging to a political party ought not be above belonging to the Church, whenever [the church] tries to defend the people against social injustice.

15. We pass on to you what Pope Benedict XVI tells us, about the theology which we ought to profess in the economic and political realm. “This dynamic of charity received and given is what gives rise to the Church's social teaching, which is caritas in veritate in re sociali: the proclamation of the truth of Christ's love in society. This doctrine is a service to charity, but its locus is truth. Truth preserves and expresses charity's power to liberate in the ever-changing events of history. It is at the same time the truth of faith and of reason, both in the distinction and also in the convergence of those two cognitive fields. Development, social well-being, the search for a satisfactory solution to the grave socio-economic problems besetting humanity, all need this truth. What they need even more is that this truth should be loved and demonstrated. Without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalized society at difficult times like the present.” (Caritas in veritate, n. 5).

16. We urge you to persevere in the base church communities in order to carry out the popular ministry which we have undertaken in all the parishes.

17. With the powerful help of Our Lady of Suyapa, Helper of Christians, we are sure that you will live free of all weaknesses of body and soul.

18. With the blessing of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, may you also receive ours.

Your brothers and friends of the presbyterate of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, Central America.

September 24, 2009


The original Spanish can be found at my Spanish blog.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Honduran Bishops' Conference June 19 statement

This document has been referred to several times in the discussion of the current political crisis in Honduras and provides some context to the events of July 28 and the varied responses of the religious community to the coup.

Communiqué of the Honduran Bishops’ Conference

Give, then, your servant a wise heart to govern your people and to be able to discern between good and evil. (1 Kings 3:9)

The Bishops of the Catholic Church of Honduras, united in our second annual meeting, to the People of God and to the Honduran society in general, we declare the following:

1. We wish to be faithful to the mission to announce the Gospel by means of the formation of consciences, the defense of values, above all truth and justice, and the our contribution to the common good. This responsibility reminds us of the Document of Aparecida which affirms: “The Church should also help consolidate the fragile democracies, in the positive process of democratization in Latin America and the Caribbean, even though there currently exist serious challenges and threats of authoritarian deviations” (Document of Aparecida, 541).

2. The political juncture that has been produced by the internal elections in the political parties, the election of the Supreme Court of Justice. The naming of the Attorney General, the rumors of a coup d’état and the preparations for a poll over a fourth ballot box have produced in us a deep concern for the divisions and the polarization of forces which gets deeper in our society.

3. From different communications media, civil groups, and the people itself, there is an insistence on the need to present and try to resolve the enormous social problems which have been being put off: such as increasing social violence, reduction of the State’s financial resources, unemployment, the increase of organized crime and drug trafficking, the reduction in the force that moral and religious values have in our society, vulnerability in the face of natural phenomena, land tenure, etc.

4. In one way or another all of us are responsible for this ensemble of problems that threaten our democracy. The Powers of the State, its institutions and organisms, when they politicize their actions and stain them with corruption, abuse of power, and the intention to impose on our country a single way of thinking. The political parties are also responsible who consider themselves inheritors of the state’s patrimony [inheritance] in order to administer them, in many cases, in terms of their own personal interests. Also responsible are the so-called “groups of power,” nation and international, which are difficult to identify because they act in the shadows, insatiable in their eagerness for enrichment, who block or place conditions on integral development and deepen the unjust inequality in which we live. And, finally, all of us who form the Honduran society are responsible in so far as we become indifferent and passive in the face of the dangers which threaten our weak democracy, which is more electoral and representative than participative.

5. The participative democracy which we seek will be possible only if certain conditions are met:
  • Decisive effort so that there is true SOCIAL JUSTICE as a commitment of all the citizenry, above all of those who aspire to elected office. We believe that given the extent to which capability, conscience, and ethical responsibility seem to be developing in political leaders, political functionaries (figures), and those responsible for the banking system, the social injustice which now exist will lessen. Because without Social Justice there can be no real democracy.
  • DIALOGUE as an instrument which converts natural differences and social and cultural pluralism into opportunities to improve proposals for the future and bring a consensus on political and economic decisions. For this we need a dialogue which includes all the sectors of society and which puts us on the path not only to surmount the current crisis but also to find a national project to work on together.
  • We ought to consider CONSULTATIONS of the citizenry, far from provoking fear, as an important resource for political participation, if and when they are realized within the framework of the law since “political representation does not exclude, in fact, the direct involvement of citizens in the decisions of major importance for the life of the society” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 413).
Therefore we urge the authorities who have been elected to guard the Rule of Law that they know how to find, by means of DIALOGUE, solutions for the current conflict, and that they know how to guarantee the Honduran people the regulation of the constitutional means, such as Plebiscite and Referendum, which together with other instruments, such as the Law of Citizenship Participation, permit the people to be consulted in questions of major importance.

6. A free and sovereign society can only be constructed with the participation of all the citizens, feeling themselves co-responsible for the well-being of Honduras. But a true channel of citizen participation can not be done against the laws themselves. The Law can not be disobeyed in the name of persons whom one wishes to benefit, as one cannot be democratic without respecting Democracy, “imposing the power of a specific group on all the other members of society” ([Pope John Paul II,] Redemptor Hominis, 17).

7. On the way to preparing for the coming elections we consider it necessary that there be a process that allows the divulging of knowledge of the Constitution at all levels. This effort will have more benefits for the citizenry than all the costs, some of them of doubtful sources, of the excessively long political campaigns.

8. The citizenry ought to demand of those who present themselves s candidates in the coming elections that they show their understanding of the needs of the nation, their ability to exercise public offices, their honesty, and authentic sensibility toward those most in need. Likewise the candidates have to publicly confirm their commitment to respect the processes of political participation and to work so that the Laws are at the service of the good of everyone, especially the poorest, and not work to adjust them for the specific interests of persons, groups, or political parties.

9. We ask the three powers of the state, the dependent institutions and, especially, the Armed Forces, to guarantee the transparency, the organization and the good functioning of the coming elections so that they become a demonstration of peaceful living together and of respect for the Constitution just as the Honduran people desire.
We pray to God that the Holy Spirit enlighten the hearts of those of us who live in this fatherland which is Honduras. And we pray to the Virgin of Suyapa who, with her motherly presence, reminds us in every moment that we are children of God, brothers and sisters, and that she will guide us toward unity, justice, and peace.

Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., June 19, 2009

translation corrected November 27, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Message from Franciscan Friars (OFM) in Honduras

Our feelings and thoughts as Franciscan friars minor (OFM) in Honduras

With feelings of concern but, at the same time, of hope, we address you, a people who are noble, hard-working, humble and with a deep faith, who live your commitment to the God of life in the Honduran reality.

We are concerned about what happened on June 28, 2009, which has broken the constitutional order and has generated negative consequences which deeply affect the Honduran people:

  1. The political and ideological polarization which is dividing families and communities, which in many cases turns violent.
  2. The economic and social erosion which we are experiencing and which is bringing about greater impoverishment.
  3. The violation of human rights, namely: the violation of the freedom of expression and demonstration, the excessive use of force and repression by the state’s security forces against the demonstrators against the coup d’état; the incursion with excessive force by elements of the state security forces in the Autonomous [National] University of Honduras; direct repression toward some communications media; the prolongation of the curfew, especially in the areas around the frontier with Nicaragua; the militarization of some cities; the harassment and lack of guarantees for some leaders in the social movement.
  4. The evident deterioration of the health of the Honduran people.
  5. Disrespect and slander toward public persons.
  6. The vulnerability of children and adolescents, not receiving classes in a systematic manner.
  7. Threats against Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez.
  8. The persecution of some priests of the Catholic Church who support the organized people.
  9. The disinformation, manipulation and slander coming forth from the communications media which, instead of contributing to public opinion, sharpen the polarization and conflict.
  10. The violence which has occurred in some demonstrations.

As Franciscan Friars Minor (OFM) who accompany the Honduran people, present in different dioceses, we wish to intensify our commitment for reconciliation, justice, and peace:

  1. Promoting actions which lead to strengthening reconciliation in the family and the community.
  2. Assistance and accompaniment of actions which promote dialogue for social reconstruction.
  3. Exhorting openness to diversity of thought and to tolerance of [other] ideologies.
  4. Strengthening the formation of Critical Consciousness and social solidarity.
  5. Promoting the formation and spirituality of Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation.
  6. We support national and international initiatives that favor the restitution of democracy and the rule of law in Honduras.
  7. Promoting the distribution of the reports of international Organizations which [seek to] guarantee Democracy, Human Rights, and social development.
  8. Encouraging and maintaining hope, believing in “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1), where there arise men and women who are promoters of a society of solidarity, which is participative and committed to the common good, and of the quality of life of the majority who are impoverished.

We conclude with the blessing of Saint Francis for all men and women of good will:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
may he show you his countenance and have mercy on you.
May he look kindly on you and give you his peace.
May the Lord bless you, brothers.”


Monday, August 24, 2009

Honduran Bishops' 2006 Pastoral

To provide some background on the current political crisis in Honduras, here is my translation of the 2006 pastoral letter of the Honduran Bishops' Conference, released after the last election as the new president and legislature began their terms of office. I have omitted the footnotes.

“On the paths of hope”
Pastoral letter of the Honduran Bishops’ Conference
to Honduran political leaders, political parties
and all members of civil society

about the social situation of the nation
Tegucigalpa, March 1, 2006

I. Introduction

Dear brothers and sisters,

1. We, bishops of the Catholic Church, conscious of our mission to announce the Gospel in this special period of the history of our country, wish to share with all our sisters and brothers, and especially with the new political authorities, some reflections on the direction/course of our country; [and we wish] to show our solidarity with the worries, problems, and anxieties of the people and to offer our assistance to all those who dedicate their time, talents and efforts to achieve a human development that is integral and sustainable, which is the achievement and the promise of a civilization of love.

2. There are many disillusions/disappointments which are incubating in the soul of our people; [this is] a very difficult situation because they gradually escalate the individual and collective frustrations which impede a true solution of problems by peaceful roads and generate violent reactions. On our part we take it upon ourselves as a commitment to continue accompanying our people with words of consolation, raising up hope, and carrying out works of liberating love.

3. Our condition as disciples representing Christ demands that we live the Gospel of Jesus without detaching ourselves from the reality in which we are immersed. “We cannot feel tranquil or satisfied in the face of the chaotic and disconcerting situation which is right before our eyes: nations, sectors of the population, families and individuals ever more rich and privileged in the face of people, families, and a multitude of persons immersed in poverty, victims of hunger and sickness, lacking decent housing, sanitation, and access to culture. All this is an eloquent testimony to a real disorder and an institutionalized injustice.” These are the feelings that urge us to share our reflections with political leaders, political parties, and with all the people of Honduras.

4. Our exhortation in the area of human realities does not have a political character nor does it share technical criteria, but imparts a pastoral vision illuminated by the Gospel of Life. We offer what is ours – Jesus Christ, the Savior, whose words have eternal value and whose program for life has the motivation and guidance necessary to gradually construct a Honduras which is truly just, peaceful, and living in solidarity.

5. We urge the new government to truly take seriously the concerns, the principles, and the course of action expressed in this pastoral letter, so that its administrative task is inspired by the ethics of the common good to raise up this country and make of it a nation that is respectable, just, and equitable.

6. We hope that the political parties feel motivated by our words to exercise their roles within society as a service of the common good and do not seek their own interested or those of small groups of power.

7. Likewise, we trust that reading and reflecting on this document can serve to inspire and help movements and organizations in the civil society in their initiatives and efforts for a social harmony which is freer, more just, and more participative, “in which the various groups of citizens join together and mobilize/work together to develop and express their orientations to confront their fundamental needs and to defend their legitimate interests.”


1. A look at our history
8. This pastoral letter, “On the ways to hope,” invites us to look attentively at our history. We must learn from the good choices and from the errors of the past to recognize out social sins which have been committed in the course of history so that we don’t repeat them. To not recognize ourselves as the heirs of the past condemns us to continually commit the same mistakes. Good politics does not fail to recognize history or forget it but, from its common inheritance, puts all its efforts into the construction of the country which it dreams of and which it desires.

2. A look at our present situation
9. The new leaders of our country cannot construct a just nation it they are not capable first of all of taking a profound look at the present reality of our people. In our daily experience we gradually recognize the cries and longing for justice, work, food, education and health for the poor. When we go through the barrios, the villages and the mountains we verify the depth of this situation of poverty and misery. The stability of the macro-economy cannot make us forget nor hide this reality which several international institutions and the government itself express and show with alarming statistics.

3. Critical points about our reality
10. The elimination of poverty and the development of our people face obstacles which appear insolvable, including:
Inequality in the generation and distribution of wealth;
The low quality and insufficient coverage in education;
The lack of attention to health services;
Irrational exploitation of our natural resources and illegal utilization (taking advantage) of these resources;
Widespread corruption;
Theft of the goods of the State;
Forgetting the common good, justice, and solidarity and loss of the sacred value of human life.
All these not only cause a continuous impoverishment of our people but they also produce a constant flow of Honduras out of the country in search of better living conditions.

4. A society with weak institutions.
11. The construction of a strong nation demands the strengthening of State institutions. They are weakened by the populism and the politicization of these very institutions; by the high incidence of corruption which brings about in the population disbelief and lack of confidence in institutions and those who lead them; by the impunity which weakens the state of law, putting the law at the service of private interests and laying aside its principal function of guaranteeing and assuring harmony in the local, regional and national community; by physical violence which increases insecurity among the people and demonstrates that life is not valued or respected.

5. The chronic evil of our society is the fruit of our sins.
12. Where does all this evil, this poverty, this misery come from? Clearly it is not because God wishes this but because groups of economic and political power have been enthroned (assumed control) in our society which, in conjunction with the fatalistic attitude and chronic indolence of many and with the pressure exerted by international economic interests, brings about a scandalous misery in our country. As our brother bishops said well in Pueblo, “There is a mechanism which, being found impregnated not with an authentic humanism but with materialism, produces at the international level more and more rich at the price of more and more poor.” There is not only a social debt but also a collective responsibility for the continuation of these conditions of life, the major responsibility for which lies in those who have assumed public responsibilities for many years.

13. A careful look at the past and the present of our country will show us the course we need to follow to achieve a development which is human, integral, and sustainable. This contemplation, realistic and hopeful, is known to be illuminated and comforted by God, who is love, the guarantee and goal of the future of humanity, who teaches us to look the facts in the face, to know and understand them to discern and to interpret and to seek the best responses to the challenges which he presents us.


14. We consider that our nation, in addition to the judicial frameworks, ought to cultivate and practice the fundamental principles which are the base of all political harmony, the lines oriented toward development, and the criteria of good government, Such principles are: the common good, the dignity of the human person, justice, truth, freedom, solidarity, and subsidiarity.

1. The Common Good

15. The common good is the principal imperative for the construction of our society; all the efforts of government employees and of public policies ought to be directed toward it. This principle ought to be the paradigm that orients the actions of any political leader who would be consistent and of whatever member of society who lives responsibility in society. “A politics for the person and for society finds its basic criterion in the attainment of the common good as the good of every human being and of the whole human being.” When this spirit animates social relations. economic, political, and social inequalities will disappear.

16. For us, pastors of the pilgrim Church in Honduras, the common good is the coming together of the conditions of social life with which men, women, families or associations can achieve their personal and communal fulfillment more completely and easily. It is not a matter of achieving the minimum or only the basic necessities, rather what it seeks is the achievement of the perfection of the entire society by the full exercise of every human right and duty.

17. “Every human living together should be based in the common good, consisting in the realization, every time more fraternal, of common dignity, which demands that we don’t use some in favor of others and are disposed even to dispense with particular goods.” This commits public powers to recognize, guard, and promote human rights and facilitate the fulfillment of the respective duties connected with then.

18. The search for the common good is the responsibility of all citizens and a demand of faith for all Christians, since it has its foundation in the new commandment of love (John 13: 34; 1 John 3:11). This is the commitment which we, the Christians of Honduras, take on ourselves just as the whole church of the American continent does.

2. The dignity of the human person

19. The dignity of the human person is the source and foundation of all the other principles and the reason of being of the common good and of respect for human rights. In the construction of a new society, “the principle, the subject and end of all social institutions is and ought to be the human person,” the image of God, a being unique and unrepeatable, open to transcendence, in communion with other and with one’s own life project.

20. It is the common teaching of the church that “human rights are born from the dignity of the human person as child of God. For this reason, every trampling on the dignity of the human is a trampling on God himself, of which the human is the image.”

21. Respect for human life, in all phases of its existence is a natural right, inviolable and universal, and thus prior to and superior to civil society and the State. “The service of charity to life ought to be profoundly unitary … for it is a question of being responsible for all life and for the life of all.” This is the root of a coherent ethic of life which says no to abortion, no to euthanasia, no to war, no to the death penalty, and no to poverty and its consequences.

22. The state cannot deny, abolish or impede the exercise of the fundamental rights of the person but has the obligation to respect them, to promote them and to guarantee their juridical effect. The backbone of every effort to construct this country ought to start with seeing that human rights are fully in effect and ought to be expressed in respect for all rights and for all persons and so in the decisive rejection of all the various violations of these.

3. Justice

23. Justice leads us to recognize others as subjects of rights and duties and to create appropriate economic, social, and political conditions so the our world guarantees with greater equity the right to live in accord with the dignity of persons which god himself has conceded to us.

24. In Sacred Scripture, justice is related to God’s fidelity, his mercy and compassionate love of the poor. It is he who “does justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry’ (Psalm 146: 7), “throws down the mighty from their and raises up the humble” (Luke 1: 52). It is he who vividly exhorts us to practice justice and right, to defend the poor and oppressed (Isaiah 5: 8-10, 23) and proclaims blessed those who hunger and thirst for justice, because they will be filled (Matthew 5:6)

25. According to the Christian tradition, brought together in the Social Doctrine of the Church, social justice includes these dimensions:
- At the individual level, all persons should have access to the means to satisfy their basic needs (work, education, property, health care) and that no one be excluded from social goods and achievements.
- At the collective level, agreements and exchanges between individuals, groups, and nations should be done equitably and honestly and not from the domination and imposition of the stronger.
- At the public level, all persons should have the possibility to participate in the construction of a society whose members lead a life which is truly human. Therefore, governments have to guarantee a social order that permits and assures such participation.

26. Therefore, everything that is an affront against justice in relations between persons, betweens persons and the community, and communities and nations among themselves is a social sin.

27. Truth is one of the pillars to construct a different society in an orderly and peaceful form. The Church professes that the full truth about God and the truth about the human person has been manifested in Jesus Christ. whoever believes in Him does not remain in the darkness of error and of lies but knows the truth and walks in the truth.

28. All of us persons, in as much as we are gifted with intelligence and free will and therefore with personal responsibility, feel ourselves motivated to seek the truth and we are obliged to adhere to it once we have known it and to order our lives according to its demands.

29. The demands of truth in social life include transparency at every level, impartiality in the application of justice, honesty in information, respect for personal reputations, political proposals which are not mere demagoguery, and the fulfillment of promises that were made.

30.When truth underlies social relationships, credibility in institutions arises, transparency and confidence in the State and in governmental officials appears, citizens feel proud of their country and dedicate their energy to increase its fame. On the other hand, when the people feel deceived, made fun of, and used, as frequently happens, they become distrustful of public persons and institutions. This explains, in some way, the high level of absenteeism in the polls and sparse civic participation.

5. Liberty [Freedom]

31 – Liberty is a profound aptitude to orient our acts toward good. It makes it possible for every human to develop the capacities which aid them to increase in humanity and consequently to develop themselves as persons “Christ has freed us to be free; keep yourselves firm them and don’t submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1)

32. – We perceive the Spirit of God animating from within humanity, since every day there are more people who refuse to be treated like objects and who wish to be active subjects, individually and in organized ways, of their personal and collective history, of the directions and decisions that affect them, of the model of society which is being constructed. Therefore, they demand a new conception of society, of the State, and of authority. The old models of political leaders, presidentialism and nepotism ought to give way to the presence of a civil society, which seeks its place and wishes to make its own decisions.

33. – Liberty is not complete without liberation from all that offends and oppresses the dignity of the human person. Consequently, participation of everyone in the construction of the human social life implies the commitment to liberation from every form of social exclusion, from injustice, from exploitation and from violence in order to reach/achieve the integral development of every person and of everyone.

6. Solidarity

34. – Solidarity is the indispensable condition for achieving the common good. According to the teaching of the Church “solidarity helps us see the other – person, people, or nation – not as some sort of an instrument in order to exploit at little cost its capacity to work and physical stamina, abandoning it when it’s of no use, but as one like us.”

35. In the Bible, solidarity refers above all to the relation of God with humans. The history of salvation is the progressive revelation which God makes of Himself to humans as a God in solidarity, who enters in their lives even to the point of sharing it fully in Jesus of Nazareth (John 1: 14). The experience of communion with God which believers have is what impels them to live in solidarity with their brothers and sisters, to have with others the same sentiments and conduct that God has with them.

36. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man shows profoundly and clearly God’s will (Luke 16: 19-31). God does not what us to live in poverty, nor does he condemns riches in themselves but he rejects the lack of solidarity and of social sense in the use of the goods of creation. The table of creation is a common table for all humanity. No one can hoard it ignoring the situation of the poor. The abyss created between one sector [of society] which swims in riches and the other which lives in misery, without possibilities of establishing bridges of solidarity is a sin which cries up to heaven.

37. Despite the fact that today solidarity is spoken of so often, the humiliated and excluded continues being innumerable and every day we are witnesses of the accelerated increase of egoism in persons, groups, and nations. “Our major response, from the Gospel, to this dramatic situation is the promotion of solidarity and peace, which effectively make justice a reality.” In the face of the globalization of the market we propose, with Pope John Paul II, “the globalization of solidarity,’ understood “not as a superficial sentiment for the evils facing so many people near and far, but as the firm and persevering determination to work together for the common good.”

7. Subsidiarity

38. – In the present circumstances there are various trends in regard to the concept of the State. In some cases the claim is to reduce the State to the minimum, leaving everything to private initiative. In other cases, the tendency is to strengthen the State so that it protects groups in power; there are even those who wish that the State total responsibility for the well-bring of the population, overruling the initiative of people and of diverse groups and associations which make up the society.

39. – To avoid these excesses, the Social Doctrine of the Church has constantly developed the principle of subsidiarity, according to which. “a social structure of a higher order should not interfere in the life of a social group of a lower order, depriving it of its competencies but rather ought to support it in case of need and help it coordinate its action with those of the other social components, looking toward the common good.”

40. – This principle is in contrast to the forms of centralism, bureaucracy, and welfare on the part of the State and forms of indifference, dependency, and abdication of responsibilities in the social life on the part of citizens.

41. – “To realize the principle of subsidiarity corresponds: the respect and effective promotion of the primacy of the person and the family; the valuing of associations and intermediate organizations; impulses offered to private initiative in order that each social organism remains, with its own peculiarities, at the service of the common good; decentralization of bureaucracies and administration; the balance between the public and private spheres with the ensuing recognition of the social function of the private sector; an adequate taking of responsibility by citizens to be an active part of the political and social reality of the country.”


42. – To acknowledge our past, to look clearly at the present and to assimilate new principles qualifies us and animates us to propose new lines of action for a different future. We invite all the actors in society – the government, armed forces, political parties, professionals, unions, businessmen, workers, campesinos, women, the indigenous, non-governmental organizations and especially the young – so that in a respectful and truthful dialogue we unite and establish the foundations to build a different country, taking up the following priorities:

1. To eradicate poverty
43. – The country ought to ask for and support the eradication of poverty as a political priority of the State. Politics and social investment ought to work together so that the population has access to basic services: housing, health, education, and above all work. Social investment ought to be a concrete way of redistributing the national wealth, sustained by just and equitable taxes. We cannot tolerate that those who have more are those who less support the national treasury; nor can we continue accepting as normal that our people are living in conditions of poverty and even

2. To stimulate a social economy
44. – It is the State’s role to establish policies and undertake precise actions to strengthen an economy of solidarity, a true alternative to diminish unemployment, to improve the level of earnings and to guarantee that basic needs are covered. This has been and continues to be a true form of overcoming poverty in the poor and humble population. So this is demonstrated with various experiences of micro-businesses, cooperatives, solidarity networks, etc. Therefore, a program of incentives in this area is needed accompanied with technical, credit and technological assistance.

3. To resolve the question of agriculture
45. – In this order it is urgent to bring the agricultural question up again, to rescue the rural world as a generator of employment, of food, of life, of dignity for all persons. This implies again a look at the use and ownership of land and at agricultural politics to stimulate processes of agricultural development. The countryside ought to be one of the principal sources of wealth. There we find most of the people, but also the greatest poverty and neglect. Without productive investment, without technological knowledge, without security of land ownership or guarantees for commercialization, we will only with great difficulty achieve the eradication of poverty and avoid migration from the countryside to the city and even outside the country.

4. To achieve an equitable economic development
46. – Promoting equitable economic development is one of the State’s responsibilities. It’s up to the State to animate, stimulate, coordinate, and, if necessary, to make up for the free economic initiative not only of citizens but also of intermediate bodies for sake of the common good. It is the State’s obligation to guarantee legal security, to establish clear rules for investment, so that those who work and produce can enjoy the fruits of their work and thus feel stimulated to fulfill their work efficiently and honestly. Also, just commercial relations with all countries ought to be established – relations that can generate economic growth and development for all residents.

5. To overcome the educational deficit
27. – The question of education is a first order task in the struggle against poverty. We cannot put off attaining quality and efficiency in our educational system, educating for responsibility, service, and work well done, developing attitudes of solidarity and dispositions for the common good, and elevating self-esteem and analytical and critical abilities. The purpose of education is the formation of the human person at the service of one’s ultimate end and the good of the societies of which the human person is a member and whose responsibilities one will participate when one becomes an adult. The parents of the family, the State, and teachers are those primarily responsible to achieve satisfactory results.

6. To improve health services for everyone
48. – The state has to be conscious of the right of all Hondurans to a healthy life and therefore and of responsibility it has to offer everyone the service which promote health, takes care of it, and helps to recover it when it is lost. The present government will have to formulate and carry out those health policies that pay attention primarily to those who presently are the most neglected. The national budget ought to allocate the amount needed to achieve this object and those responsible ought to make a right and transparent use of those appropriations.

49. – So that people and the community promote a healthy life, it is important to implement programs to train individuals and communities how to recognize and prevent diseases, how to use resources, and how to care for environments that favor a healthy life.

50. – Health workers, doctors, nurses and administrators of health centers ought to take pains to provide treatment of the sick, which is attentive, human and personalized.

7. To consolidate democracy
51. – Consolidation of democracy is a task fro everyone, especially the political parties. New reforms and participative practices are needed. We ought to end, as soon as possible, the politicization of state bodies that uses democracy for sectarian interests and personal enrichment. That constitutes a deformation of politics and is a denial of democracy itself.

52.- The Bishops Conference of Honduras makes its own the world of Pope John Paul II when he affirms: “The Church values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility both of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate. […] Authentic democracy is possible only in a State ruled by law, and on the basis of a correct conception of the human person.” Even more, “The Church praises and esteems the work of those who for the good of humans devote themselves to the service of the state and take on the burdens of this office.”

53. – A positive sign of the process of consolidation of democracy is the existence of civic movements and popular organizations. With their approaches they can contribute to the correction of the way that government institutions administer national resources and exercise political power, at the same time as they defend the rights and interests of the people. Nevertheless, it is necessary that those social forces not be corrupted by private interests nor be politicized, in such a way that they can always act in defense of the common good.

54. – The government as well as the diverse sectors of civil society ought to be educated for consensus, negotiation, proposals, but also for efficiency – so that the defense of one’s own rights does not become a violation of the rights of others. The use of force ought to be the last resort, after having exhausted all other means of solving conflicts.

8. To consolidate the governability of the country
55. – It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain the governability of the country in such a way that the Honduran people can express itself as subject of its own destiny, can organize itself to find alternatives to its problems, and can participate in taking decisions, investigation, control, and carrying out governmental affairs. A profound and enduring change cannot happen if all the population does not participate in this. But it is also decisive that we educate ourselves in fulfilling the laws, in respect for public authority and to State leadership. Anarchy does not produce development but only chaos and destruction of society.

9. To transform the justice system
56. – To recover the credibility – on the national as well as the international level – by means of the proper, transparent, and swift application of justice, is an imperative task. It is necessary to make deep changes in people’s minds, in legislation, and in the exercise of justice.

57. – In addition to other tasks we cannot put off depoliticizing the power of the judiciary and putting brakes on the traffic of economic influences in order to achieve its total independence; establishing adequate procedures for the swift and equitable application of the different laws; recovering moral values, especially love and truth. Without an interior disposition to think truthfully without giving way to prejudices or personal interests, to speak the truth without distortions and lives, and to live the truth in love (Ephesians 4: 15) impartially, one cannot be just or administer justice.

10. To eradicate corruption
58. – Corruption is like a cancer which desensitizes the moral conscience, corrodes the life of society and its institutions and increases the lack of confidence in public management. The principal guarantees against corruption are the exercise of justice with transparency, truthfulness, attachment to the law, professionalism and independence of any type of power; the institutionalization of providing financial reports and access to information in the various areas of public administration; and the moral formation of consciences, from infancy and youth, in family and in society.

59. – This is also a task of the Church. Pope John Paul II tells us: “The Church is called to give witness to Christ, taking up courageous and prophetic positions in the face of corruption of political or economic powers, not seeking glory or material goods; using its goods for the service of the poorest and imitating the simplicity of the life of Christ.”

11. To guarantee the security of citizens
60. – We need a policy of citizen security [public safety] framed in the fullest picture of integral human development. This politics will only be correct in its proposals and effective in its results if it begins with an analysis of the multiple causes of violence. A national security plan cannot be reduced to crackdown and to criminal punishment of crime but ought to develop a series of strategies and actions for the prevention of crime and for the rehabilitation and the reintegration into society of the criminal.

61. – Juvenile delinquency is rooted in the tremendous emptiness in families, in the lack of opportunities for work and education, which leads many youth to join groups that attack society. We can prevent and diminish this crime by increasing surveillance in the street, building rehabilitation centers directed by motivated and trained people, consolidating the unity of the family in love, and creating hopes for a valuable life and future by education and work.

62. Organized crime and drug trafficking are increasing in a alarming way and are gradually damaging the foundations of society with violence, bribes, and drug consumption. A State policy is needed which confronts this very serious problem bravely, effectively, and radically.

63. – An integral policy of security cannot forget the need to renew the whole jail system, the penitentiaries, the way they are organized, the mentality in them, and the persons involved.

12. To protect and apportion the use of natural resources
64 – The municipal community and the national community ought to conserve, protect, and use rationally natural resources: land, water, forests and mines; since we have populations affected by the lack of water, the devastation of forests, and the poor use of the available land.

65 – Mineral exploitation ought to leave most of the profit to Honduras and protect the ecological balance for the good of present and future generations. For this, it is necessary to reform the existing laws or replace them with others which are more just and adequate which above all take in consideration the common good and not the enrichment of a very few.

13. To strengthen the national identity
66. – Constructing the future depends to a great extent on the value we have of ourselves, personally and collectively. The national identity is strengthened when we possess a rich legacy of common memories and when we dream and elaborate a plan suggestive of life in common. These elements are very weak in most of the population. For this we need to keep alive the memory of our past, to awaken latent aspirations of the people, to increase the esteem and appreciation we have of ourselves, and to believe in our abilities. Schools, universities, cultural and artistic institutions, the Ministry of Culture, Arts, and Sports, and the Tourism Ministry have, among other responsibilities, the responsibility to strengthen the national identity.

67. – A Project of the Nation, which succeeds in exciting and joining together the efforts of all the citizenry, will contribute in great part to forming the national identity. But such a project will only be feasible when there exists a political will for a “national consensus”; when the common good is above partisan interests; and when it is a project conceived not only for four years which a government controls but for the medium- and long-term future.

14. To help bring about a culture of responsibility
68. – We ought to begin to eliminate poverty by way of work that is decent, creative, and imaginative. Christ, by his solidarity with us, makes us capable of reviving our activity with love and transforming our work and our history a gesture of praise of God and service of neighbor. By means of work, not only do we produce the goods needed for our subsistence but also we grow within by developing the abilities that we’ve been endowed with.


69. – The task we have before us is immense. The temptation to be discouraged can rise up for us. But we cannot succumb to that temptation since it would lead to apathy, to lack of interest, and to lack of effectiveness. Let us put ourselves on the march “on the paths of hope.” Hope give meaning and direction to personal and collective life, encourages and strengthen the continuing every day effort, and creates solidarity since the good that is hoped for is for everyone.

70. – The priorities we have set forth are urgent and complex. They will only be reached to the extent that we – the people, government, political parties, social and professional organizations and non-governmental organizations – put our energies at the service of a integral human development for everyone, as the only way that the culture of justice, peace, and life will prevail. We offer our prayer and our collaboration to the people and the government to reach the proposed goals.

71. We Christians have placed our hope in Christ (Ephesians 1: 12). The risen Lord is the guarantee, the strength, and the goal of our hope. We have decided to share this enthusiasm with everyone with the security that we will not be deceived.

Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., March 1, 2006

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Trujillo Diocesan Communiqué

Communiqué of the Diocese of Trujillo

to the Honduran People in the face of the political and social crisis
we are living in Honduras

“Therefore, put on the weapons of God to be able to resist the ill-fated day and remain firm in spite of everything. Gird yourself with the belt of truth, clothe yourself with the armor of justice, and put on the sandals of zeal in order to propagate the Good News of peace.”
Ephesians 6, 13-15

As a diocese which has historically made a preferential option for the poor, we wish to share these thoughts in the search for TRUTH, which is so needed in order to put aside certain intransigent attitudes and facilitate dialogue which we all ought to practice in regard to making the common good real.


1.1. Historical Antecedents

The present crisis is the result of a series of violations of the Constitution and of the laws which have happened in the last decades which were caused by the political class and at times forced [on the country] by groups of the economic powers. There is a concept that sums up all these attitudes: CORRUPTION. In our diocese of Trujillo, this corruption has abetted all the negative consequences which provoke the problem, never resolved, of land ownership; for example, the old Regional Military Training Center (CREM) [and] the Campesino Movement on the Valley of Sico-Paulaya, which has cost several human lives, the threats to the Garifuna to expropriate their land ,and the ownership of the best lands in the hands of a few. This reality has unleashed inequality and violence in our region. In addition, the presence of drug trafficking has seriously deteriorated the life of the population and has acquired such strength as to raise the fear that Honduras is being converted into a drug-state.

1.2. Current antecedents

The actions of June 28 are the result of a series of clashes of the executive power/branch with the legislative and judicial branches/powers [of the government] and of the actions of Mr. José Manuel Zelaya contrary to the decisions of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Supreme Electoral Commission. They are also the result of the lack in Honduras of a constitutional tribunal to solve the confrontations which can happen among the three powers of the state. Nevertheless, we condemn the expatriation of Mr. José Manual Zelaya brought about by the Armed Forces. Equally we condemn dictatorial attitudes which violate the freedom of the press and manipulate the means of communication, electrical outages, and the restriction of individual guarantees, etc., because they are illegal attempts against the Constitution of the Republic and the rights of citizens. The interpretation of the legality and illegality of these actions have divided the Honduran people. And, not only that, we find ourselves divided by the different ways of conceiving democracy, of holding opinions about the need or lack of need to reform the Constitution or write a new one. [We also condemn] antagonistic attitudes which ought not be allowed to break up the unity of Hondurans.


1. The majority of the population has stopped believing in the authorities because of the extent of corruption with which these authorities act or which they simply permit. The lack of true political leadership is a cause for concern and in this situation the populism of Mr. Zelaya has had a strong impact on a good part of the people. Populist steps do not always directly benefit the people. In many cases it happens that the government, instead of coming near the people in order to assist them, is served by the people in order to be the one who is assisted.
2. There does not exist in the political class, in general, the will to confront the grave problems which debase the population, especially the poorest.
3. From the time of it approval in 1982, the Constitution has been violated on many occasions and neither the organs of the State which ought to avoid this nor the people have acted in its defense. But in the last few years the consciousness of the citizens has been changing in regard to respect for the [Constitution] and the right to real participation in democratic life as the demonstrations of these days reveal.
4. Inevitably, the economic crisis has had an impact on Honduras. Nevertheless, the government of Mr. Zelaya did not pose a strategic plan to hold it in check nor have the groups with economic power been willing to sacrifice their profits. The current political crisis will cause our economy to crash even more.


Once the first confrontations between the partisans of the return to power of Mr. Zelaya and those opposed to it were past, demonstrations have been happening in a more orderly way. And only in this climate will it be possible to dialogue. It is not possible when one part acts with violence. Nor does dialogue have to be dependent on the number of persons there are on each side nor by hidden interests. When TRUTH is sought, this will not be found exclusively with one group and, at times, not even with the side that has more people. The manner in which we overcome the present crisis and the consequences which it will leave us depend on the ability to dialogue at all levels.

A point of agreement in all the population is the need to respect the Constitution and to not permit it to be violated. In the year 2004 the National Congress of the Republic eliminated all immunity in the face of the law. The current crisis also allows us the lesson of the need and the right which the people have to participate in framing the laws by which they should be governed and not only the obligation to comply with the laws. As Jesus affirmed, “The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Cfr. Mark 2:27) and thus the human being has been created not to comply with the laws but the laws are to serve the dignity of the human being.

The crisis also leaves us with the lesson that the growing political consciousness of the citizens is a force which neither the political parties nor members of the government have valued. This consciousness among the citizenry has reminded us that it belongs to all of us to resolve the problems of our fatherland. We acknowledge that we are part of the international community, but nevertheless we are conscious that we Hondurans ought to be the protagonists of our future.

Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic says:
“The Government must be based on the principle of participatory democracy which is at the heart of national integration, which implies the participation of all political sectors in the public administration [government] to ensure and strengthen the progress of Honduras based on political stability and national reconciliation.”
The present crisis has be converted into the opportunity to go forward and make real a real and participatory democracy, going beyond a merely formal democracy which is merely electoral and representative.

It is their responsibility to provide impartial and objective information in order to come close to the TRUTH. Lately we have seen partiality in the news, the repression of some means of communication and the suspension of the right of free expression.


a) It is urgent to develop a National Plan, fruit of a national consensus, which includes a social compact. The efforts of the government and of all its institutions, as well as organized civil society ought to be working toward this. Dialogue which facilitate this national plan has to be transparent and be made known to the whole population.

b) It is necessary to enter into a legal process where the people are consulted about possible and necessary Constitutional reforms in order that citizenship participation be real in our democracy. It ought to be a necessary condition for the candidates in the next elections, even if they are moved forward, to declare their intentions in regard to bringing about this process which ought to be started during the first year of the next government [administration].

c) There shall be a guarantee for the future of the Nation that the pertinent institutions of the State investigate if there exist acts of corruption not only in the government of Mr. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales and earlier governments but also in state institutions for the purpose of construing responsibilities.

d) We ought not waste our energies in the battle over whether or not Mr. Zelaya returns as president or if Mr. Micheletti goes or not, but in wagering on making Honduras a better nation. We will only achieve this if we – the citizenry and the political class – begin to share a vision of the county that will be for the good of all and if we exercise the moral right to veto so many corrupt leaders and politicians.


“Be reconciled with God!” 2 Corinthians 5: 20

We exhort the Honduran people to put aside attitudes of rejection and accept the paths of RECONCILIATION. Reconciliation does not mean ceasing to apply justice or renouncing the pursuit and defense of what we believe is the TRUTH. Reconciliation consists in being able to sit around the same table to continue to find paths we can walk as brothers/sisters and fellow citizens, toward a better future for everyone.
We urge the people of our diocese of Trujillo, in the departments of Colón and Gracias a Dios not to close themselves in by an obsession with a person, or political party or ideology, but
  • to struggle to improve the quality of education.
  • to seek conciliatory positions in the search for solutions of land ownership.
  • to dialogue with the government about the need to improve the road systems.
  • to demand from the government a plan for the cultural, economic, and social development of the Moskitia.
  • that the respective authorities guarantee the security of citizens and that they act in accord with the law to stop the presence of drug-trafficking in the region.
  • that they return to the problem of deforestation in our departments not only decommissioning wood already cut but also stopping the cutting of our forest reserves and the destruction of the environment.
And we remind the Christian people to pray always and in every moment since we ought to be instruments of harmony, peace, and unity.

Given in the city of Trujillo, July 10, 2009

The extended presbytery, Diocese of Trujillo, Honduras

Spanish text at <> and <>

There were also a few phrases referring to groups or events that I am not familiar with.
Suggestions to improve this translation are most welcome.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trujillo Diocesan Communiqué (partial)

About July 6, the priests and men and women religious of the diocese of Trujillo in northeastern Honduras issued a communiqué .

It begins:

“As a diocese which has historically made a preferential option for the poor, we wish to share these thoughts as a search for truth, which is so needed to put aside certain intransigent attitudes and facilitate dialogue which we all ought to practice in regard to making the common good real.”
… We exhort the Honduran people to put aside attitudes of rejection and accept the paths of reconciliation. Reconciliation does not mean ceasing to apply justice or renouncing the pursuit and defense of what we believe is the truth. Reconciliation consists in being able to sit around the same table to continue to find paths we can walk as brothers/sisters and fellow citizens, toward a better future for everyone.

It ends:
… “We urge the people of our diocese of Trujillo, in the departments of Colón and Gracias a Dios not to close themselves in by a person, or political party or ideology, but to struggle for our real problems:
  • Improve the quality of education.
  • Seek conciliatory positions in the search for solutions of land ownership.
  • Dialogue with the government about the need to improve the road systems.
  • Demand from the government a plan for the cultural, economic, and social development of the Moskitia.
  • That the respective authorities guarantee the security of citizens and that they act in accord with the law to stop the presence of drug-trafficking in the region.
  • That they return to the problem of deforestation in our departments not only decommissioning wood already cut but also stopping the cutting of our forest reserves and the destruction of the environment.”

La Patriota, an independent Honduran newpaper, reported in an on line article on July 20 that the document also comments on the coup directly. Even though I have not been able to get a copy of the actual statement to verify it, this is a translation of most of the article by María Orbelina López.

The present crisis is the result of a series of violations of the Constitution and of the laws which has happened in the last decades caused by the political class and at times forced [on the country] by groups of the economic powers, explained the Diocese of Trujilo through a communiqué.

After reviewing a series of acts of corruption which unleashed inequality and violence, it indicated that the events of June 28 are the result of a series of clashes among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches/powers [of the government] and the Supreme Electoral Commission, as well as the failure of the Constitutional Tribunal to solve the confrontations which can happen among the powers of the state.

Nevertheless, “we condemn the expatriation of Mr. José Manual Zelaya brought about by the Armed Forces because it is an attack against the Constitution of the Republic and the rights of Zelaya as a citizen. Equally we condemn the dictatorial attitudes which have been imposed on the population: violation of the freedom of the press and manipulation of the means of communication…”

The interpretation of the legality and illegality of these actions have divided the Honduran people. Also we find ourselves divided by the different ways of conceiving democracy, of holding opinions about the need or lack of need to reform the Constitution or write a new one. We should [not] convert antagonistic attitudes into irreconcilable [attitudes], and these ought not be allowed to break up the unity of Hondurans.

Further on, the communiqué notes, The majority of the population has stopped believing in the authorities because of the extent of corruption with which they act or which they simply permit. The lack of political leadership is a cause for concern and in this situation the populism of Mr. Zelaya has had a strong impact on a good part of the people.

Finally, we have seen the partiality of the news about the repression and the censure of some means of communication and the suspension of the right of free expression. This is not the way for us to understand each other and be able to dialogue.

From the time of it approval in 1982, the Constitution has been violated on many occasions and neither the organs of the State which ought to avoid this nor the people have acted in its defense. But in the last few years the consciousness of the citizens has been changing in regard to respect for the [Constitution] and the right to real participation in democratic life as the demonstrations of these days reveal.

Roe this diocese this crisis has left us with great lessons to learn: it is not possible to dialogue when one party acts with violence; all the population feels the need to respect the Constitution and not let it be violated; the need and the right which the people have to participate in the framing of the laws by which they are governed and not only the obligation to obey the laws.

At the same time it notes that the growing consciousness as citizens is a force which either the political parties nor members of the government have valued. We have proved that the intervention of other countries is neither objective nor without personal interest. We Hondurans ought to be the protagonists of our own future.

[The communiqué] proposes the need to enter into a legal process in which the people can be consulted about the possible and necessary constitutional reforms. It ought to be an absolutely necessary condition that all the candidates for the coming elections declare their intentions in order to bring about this process which ought to begin in the first year of the next government.


The first part of this blog was translated from an article found at

Central American Dominicans Provincial Statement



To all the communities of the Dominican Province of Saint Vincent Ferrer in Central America, to the Dominican Family in Central America, to the parish and pastoral communities which we accompany with our work and to all men and women who work for justice and peace in the world.


1. The arrest of the president of the Republic of Honduras on June 28 by the Armed Forces of that county, the violation of his home, his expulsion from the national territory, and the way this was carried out have presented themselves as the culmination of a series of conflicts which were happening in our brother country and to the outburst of a serious human and institutional crisis and a crisis of civilized living together which threatens the peace of the whole region.

2. The events which preceded such a serious breakdown of the social and political order are not limited, as has been presented in some news sources, only to the proposal of the president to conduct a consultation with which he was trying to obtain backing for [his proposal] to set up in the coming general elections in November a fourth ballot box in which the citizens would have to vote if they wanted to change the political Constitution. A series of conflicts had been building up between president Zelaya and various economic sectors during the last few months. The restructuring of the profit formulas for the international oil companies, the importation of generic drugs from Cuba at cheaper costs than those offered by the national and international pharmaceutical companies, the decision to raise the minimum wage – one of the lowest of the Isthmus – from $182 to $291 [a month], measures that favored the environment, vis-à-vis the mining companies, were some of the governmental measures which caused deep discontent among various private business groups who perceived these events as opposed to their interests and who were putting together a front against those who were governing.

3. From the moment of the removal of President Zelaya, not the least of the serious conflicts generated is the discussion on how to interpret the events as well as the polarization around such interpretations. While international leaders and organisms, such the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights and other organizations, categorically speak of a coup d’état [golpe de estado, in Spanish] and condemned it, the defenders of the same [event] consider it to be a “legitimate succession” in power in conformity with the internal laws of Honduras. All this has created confusion in sectors of the Central American population in [regard to] news reports.

4. This has produced the International isolation of Honduras, the suspension of financial aid, the withdrawal of ambassadors of various nations – all of which raises the fear that, as is customary, this injures, to a great extent, the poorest and weakest, because the more powerful groups always have ways and resources to protect themselves from every type of crisis. The confrontation between the defenders of the institutional order and those who accept the de facto regime has reached the shedding of blood with the shooting by the military on the demonstrators who were in favor of the return of the President.

5. While those who broke up the institutional order consider that the increasing and dangerous influence of the governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and other members of ALBA was being brought to bear in Honduras, other sectors of the people and various analysts point to possible plotting, at least an ambiguous attitude, to put it moderately, by the US government in the face of the coup.


The call of history [History knocks]

6. As Dominicans we see in our Latin America the living testimony of the martyrs who have taken seriously their vocation to be witnesses of the truth. They summon us, as the Order of Preachers, above all, to take on the vocation of announcing and denouncing. This call is much stronger when human life and social living together are at stake.

7. But we are clear that the obligation to express our opinion, an obligation we share with the Church, ought to be founded in the ethical-religious level, not in the scientific-technical order. In these very days Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, citing earlier church teaching, that “The Church does not have technical solutions to offer and does not claim ‘to interfere in any way in the politics of States.’ She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation.” (Caritas in veritate, n. 9). Therefore our judgment in this moment cannot be either in the field of juridical-legal analysis or in the field of social-scientific analysis, neither of which belongs to us as Church.

8. Therefore, convinced that they are based on principles drawn from the Church’s Social Teaching, we present the considerations which we offer below in dialogue with other sectors of Church and society, looking to bring light to the action which is required in the face of the crisis in Honduras.

The criteria

9. In the first place, it is necessary to remember that in this conflict which originated in Honduras one finds groups with diverse ideologies, political partisanship, and social and economics interests and that, therefore, one must respect and start from the existence of this plurality. Nevertheless, one must insist very emphatically that one cannot accept the vision, as some have said, that there exist “two groups [bands],” “two parts,” in reference to the democratic institutional order, while the international consensus endorses the [political order] in terms of the conception of democracy and the defense of human rights. In terms of justice, institutions, and defense of human rights, it is not fitting to accept [the notion of] two “groups [bands]” nor some sort of negotiation under the penalty of destroying the premises needed for living together amidst the diversity of persons.

10. The Church has been forceful, in this respect, defending the identification and the proclamation of the rights of humans as one of the forces most relevant in responding effectively to the essential demands of human dignity (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 76). Likewise [it has been forceful] in affirming that the ultimate source of human rights is not found in the mere will of human beings, in the reality of the State, or in public powers, but in the very human person and in God their Creator (cf. Pacem in Terris). Therefore, it is completely unacceptable – as has been done in the “dismissal” of president Zelaya – to have recourse to or to apply any national legislation that does not conform to or is not subordinate to these rights. It is even much less acceptable to shield oneself in “states of exception” to commit actions which fail to respect human dignity. It is clear that Christians appreciate the democratic system to the extent that it assures the participation of all its citizens, gives them the possibility to elect their leaders and hold them accountable, and to replace them in a peaceful manner (cf. Centesimus annus, 46).

11. It is clear in the Catholic social teaching tradition that resort to resistance to a ruler, by means of armed forces, is only legitimate when there have evident been certain, serious and prolonged violation of fundamental rights – not when they have [only] been foreseen or supposed as possible; when all other recourses have been exhausted; without provoking worse disorders; when there is a firm chance of success and if it is impossible to foresee better reasonable solutions. None of this seems to have been considered by the authors of the coup d’état in Honduras. Let us quote the following paragraph in the encyclical “The Progress of Peoples” (31). In that text [Pope] Paul VI recalls the enormous dangers of insurrection against legitimate governments because “– except in the case of evident and prolonged tyranny which seriously attacks the fundamental rights of the person and dangerously harms the common good of a nation – [insurrection] engenders new injustices, introduces new imbalances, and provokes new destruction. A real evil cannot be combated at the cost of a greater evil.” The unanimous international condemnation of the coup in Honduras reveals the widespread perception that the change of the institutional order in Honduras creates threats, no only for peaceful and just living together within the country, but also for the fragile democratic system in the region. This, without a single doubt, is a greater evil which could be avoiding and which in every case remains subject to proof with due process.

12. Furthermore, one cannot separate the ethical-religious judgment of the coup from what one must formulate about the general widespread situation of Honduras and the solution of which ought to be made a first priority, not only for Catholics but also for all men and women of good will in the country, in particular those who govern. Let it be enough to recall certain facts: Honduras is one of the countries in this continent with the majority of the population suffering poverty and its effects, with high indices of inequality in the distribution of income per capita and in the concentration of per capita income per household. Only 38.2% of the households appear in the statistics as “non-poor” because they can cover their basic nutritional and other needs. The level of infant mortality averages 23 per 1000, but it is four times the national average in some rural departments [provinces/states]. For this country, the indicator of hope in life lies in even worse state in that education indicators, which, no matter how the scores are obtained, are among the lowest in the region. It is one of the countries of the isthmus which shows the greatest proportion of undernourished children, where low birth weight is one of the factors which precipitates malnutrition at later ages – the result, fundamentally, of prenatal malnutrition – and where relevant advances in the reduction of this indicator are not registered. The effects of malnutrition suffered in the preschool population is seen clearly in the accumulated deficit of stature in school children which exceeds 40%. And it is clear that one of the principal factor which impacts the deteriorated health situation is inadequate access to sanitation and water. Furthermore, a third of those who suffer from HIV-AIDS in all of Central America live in Honduras.

13. Will we Christians – and in particular we Friars Preachers [Domninicans] – be able to say that in Honduras we are announcing the God of life, Jesus who came “that we may have life and life in abundance”? Will Honduran political parties and leaders [be able to say] that they have made the defense of life their principal priority? Will the coup d’état have any relation with this social and economic situation which is so conflictive and unacceptable?

14. Whatever may be the response to these questions, we are convinced that the commitment to accompany the people of Honduras is not limited to this regrettable juncture of the break up of democratic institutions, but is extended to the journey toward overcoming these structural problems. A strengthening of political democracy – so dramatically wounded with the recent coup – will only be realized with the robust construction of an economic and social democracy.

15. But, in this journey, to define what has to be done – as [Pope] Paul VI taught clairvoyantly – this is not our privileged task, nor is it [the privileged task] of the bishops or the Pope. It is the Christian communities who are entrusted with “analyzing with objectivity the situation of their own country, to illuminate it with the light of the unchangeable Word of the Gospel, to deduce principles of reflections, norms of judgment and directives for action according to the social teachings of the Church as it has been elaborated throughout history … It belongs [to them], with the help of the Holy Spirit, in communion with their responsible bishops, in dialogue with all other Christians and all people of good will, to discern the choices and the commitments which are suitable to assume in order to make real the social, political mad economic transformations which are considered to be urgently needed in each case ( Octagesima adveniens, 4).


16. We call all religious and members of the Dominican Family in Central America to reject categorically, based on the principles stated here, the coup inflicted on the Honduran democratic institution and call for national and international support for the restoration of the same [the democratic institution] as soon as possible.

17. Likewise, we are called to effectively express our solidarity with those most in need, the poorest and the most excluded of the people of Honduras, who are also those who have been most affected -- sometimes even manipulated -- by critical situations like the present one.

18. We consider it very important to resume dialogue within the church in order to determine the common points which bring us to an act of commitment for peace, justice, and solidarity with the poorest. We agree with the Honduran bishops in regard to the need to “initiate a true dialogue among all the sectors of society so that we can arrive at constructive solutions.”

19. We also agree with the bishops that it is “necessary to globalize solidarity as a path that can help us overcome injustice and inequality.” We particularly ask the help of the Promoters of Justice and Peace in the continent so that we do not allow any of our countries to repeat again the alterations of democratic institutions which pull our societies back to the lamentable stages of our past history.

20. We ought to collaborate with the effort of civil society and politicians of good will so that the army of Honduras will avoid falling again into the acts which happened in the last few days.

21. As the Dominican family of Central America we can commit ourselves to create spaces for dialogue, reflection, and prayer, along the lines of justice and peace, to strengthen the identification and construction of common interests by means of justice, excluding all forms of violence.

22. it is urgent that our communities, in their reflection and action keep a watchful Gospel attitude, a culture and an ethic which are translated into actions which help prevent the repetition of these types of situations.

Joined with the Council of the Dominican province of Saint Vincent Ferrer of Central America, and the Centers devoted to Research CEDI (Heredia, Costa Rica), and AkKután (Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala).

Fr. Alexis Páez Ovares, O.P.
Provincial Prior
Central America

Fr. Carlos Flores, O.P.
Justice and Peace Promotor
Central America


This is an unofficial translation; the original in Spanish can be found at

This has been a difficult text for me to translate.
Corrections to the translation are eagerly welcomed.