Friday, March 5, 2010

Trujillo clergy question a press report


The Priests Council of the Diocese of Trujillo to the communications media and public opinion in general:

In the newspaper LA PRENSA on March 1, 2010, on page 4 of the Investigation Series, there is a citation from a military intelligence report in possession of that newspaper which, according to the authors of the article, “is already in the hands of the government authorities.”

Referring to the assistance and indoctrination of armed campesino groups who have occupied various African palm plantations in Bajo Aguán, the citation from the military intelligence report, supposedly taken from the text, states that the aid and indoctrination comes from “an established structure in the region which comes from non-governmental organizations in the region of a socialist bent, priests of the Jesuit order who hawk liberation theology in every community, leaders of the teachers, and radical leftist teachers, even including local means of communication with communist ideological biases.”

Further on in the article the following paragraph is cited: “It is important to stress that the dominant Catholic order in the department is the Jesuits, followers of liberation theology which is a Marxist vision of the Gospel. Out of this order have come all the guerrilla priests of the Church including Guadalupe Carney.

We consider it necessary to make the following clarifications?

1. The priests who belong to the Society of Jesus, founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola, popularly called “Jesuits,” have accompanied the poorest families of the department of Colon who for the most part comprise the campesino population, to assist them in the defense of their rights and to attain the goals of their own development.

2. This work of the Jesuit priests is in accord with the preferential option for the poor which the church in Latin America has made for several decades. In the document “In search of human development n Honduras which is integral, just, and in solidarity,” dated January 6, 2010, the Jesuit priests who work in our country, affirm, “It is clear that the option for the poor is an intrinsic way of making our faith concrete and in it we play out the meaning of our life. This option has to be personal and communitarian, it has to connect the concrete person and the structures, it has to pass through the heart and it has to be expressed in actions in history.”

Pope Benedict XVI himself in his inaugural address at the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American bishops in 2007 explained it in this way: “In the effort to know the message of Christ and to make it the guide of one’s own life, one has to recall that evangelization has always been united to human promotion and authentic Christian liberation.” (Inaugural Discourse, 3) Integral liberation for which the Jesuit priests and the whole Catholic Church work is not Marxist action nor an action which belongs to a political ideology. It is action inspired by the Gospel which demands that we work against every ideology which manipulates the people. And this is what the Jesuit priests do in our diocese of Trujillo. We are clear about the effort the Jesuit priests make and which the whole diocese does for some eighteen years so that the campesinos do not sell their lands which now are the reason for this violent conflict. Likewise, in no moment have we promoted recovery of lands by the campesinos.

3. Also the report in LA PRENSA recalls the following quote from the military intelligence report: “Authorities of the Catholic Church in the area have strong ties with campesino groups in the department, officially to promote environmental and indigenous groups but it is believed that they are also to strengthen their party (the Christian Democrats).

Aiding political parties is a individual right of every citizen. Nevertheless, no member of the Hierarchy of the Catholic church in the Diocese of Trujillo, which is composed of the departments of Colón and Gracias a Dios, has any commitment with any political party and therefore not with the Christian Democratic Party. We share the words of Pope Benedict XVI when he affirmed in the same inaugural discourse noted above, “If the Church would begin to be transformed directly in political affairs, it would not do more for the poor and for justice but would do less, because it would lose its independence and its moral authority, identifying itself with a single political way and partial opinions and positions. The church is the advocate (lawyer) of justice and the poor precisely by not identifying itself with politician nor with party interests.” (Inaugural Discourse, 4)

Having cleared up these points, we believe it necessary to ask for some clarifications.

a) To the Military Intelligence of the Armed Forces of Honduras and to the authorities of the National Police:
  • We ask you to inform the people about the victims who up to this moment have been affected by this conflict and those responsible for these bloody deeds.

  • We ask you, in the name of the population which believes in peace and respects life, to inform us of the general disarmament which was announced before the general elections of last November; of the results and the objectives, as well as the intentions of the military and police authority to not pursue aggressively the arms traffic when it seems that, these very authorities, warn us about the danger of the organization of a guerrilla cell in Bajo Aguán.
b) To the authorities responsible for the struggle against drug-trafficking, we urge them to clear up the movements of the various drug cartels which have invaded the departments of Colón and Gracias a Dios and of their participation in the agrarian conflicts. It is a question so that the population can know what is at risk and what is being protected in regard to the unforeseen, illegal, immoral and even violent consequences which are brought about by being involved in this activity [drug-trafficking] which is destroying so many lives and which intends to convert Honduras into a narco-state.

c) We ask Military Intelligence that it justify how a supposed internal unpublished document has come into the hands of a member of the communications media.

d) To the means of communication we ask them to be more careful in citing unpublished sources which provoke misinformation and confusion in public opinion, attacking the good name of persons and institutions.

The Catholic Church defends the life and dignity of every human being. It rejects every form of violence and also every judgment which, without being tied to the truth, can defame or discredit persons and institutions. It is desirable, if the military report is authentic, that the Military Authorities revise and publish their information.

We trust that the dialogue that the President of the Republic, Don Porfirio Lobo Sosa
proposes as the democratic path will serve in this conflicts to show the legal ways with which it ought to be resolved. We ask the parties in litigation to put aside weapons in order that the force of reason, common sense and legality may finally dominate.

Given in the city of Trujillo, March 2, 2010.

The original in Spanish can be found on my blog in Spanish and at Honduras en lucha.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Honduran Bishops Conference, February 2010


“Live praying and supplicating. Pray at all times as the Spirit inspires you. Watch together and persevere in your praying without ever being disheartened, interceding for the holy ones, your brothers [and sisters].” (Ephesians 6: 18)

February 9 to 12 we held the first ordinary meeting of the Honduras Bishops Conference for the current year, 2010.

Together we have given thanks to God for the devotion to Mary shared with the People of God and shown on the feast of Our Lady, the Virgin of Suyapa, the Patron of Honduras.

We have also given thanks for the tenderness of God toward those who are sick as we commemorate the Virgin Mary under the advocacy of Our Lady of Lourdes, during the 18th World Day of the Sick.

We shared with the representatives of ADVENIAT their interest in the Delegates of the Word of God, while thanking them for the generous aid that this institution of the German Catholic Church offers to the Church in Honduras so that we can provide better fruits in our task of evangelizing.

In an atmosphere of prayer and communion we examined the prophetic and evangelizing attitude which the Catholic Church ought to have in the face of the political, economic, and social reality which our country is living at this time when a new stage of its history is beginning with a new government.

Consistent with our faith we consider it a moral today that all of us believers commit ourselves according to our vocation and personal status to participate in the democratic life which the people of Honduras has chosen; and that we work as instruments of the reconciliation which we urgently need in all areas of our social life together.

As citizens we ought to know how to demand of the new authorities, within legal channels, action which is transparent and base on the principle of Social Justice which the Social Doctrine of the Church insists in all its teachings. We ought to demand a just and preferential attention to the poor who are the majority of our people so that all that is promised is fulfilled.

We bishops have discerned that the Catholic Church can and ought to face the difficult realities which are perpetuated beyond [the scope of] the governments which steer our path and which sometimes become much more acute because of their inability [to respond to them]. We are thinking about the increasing action and power of drug traffickers and organized crime, the corruption which is so difficult to eradicate, the considerable fiscal deficit, the legislative delay which permits situations which harm our people, natural resources and the environment.

We the bishops of Honduras commit ourselves to continue working in our respective dioceses together with the priest, religious men and women, missionaries and the faithful to respond to the challenges noted.

We renew the preferential option for the poor. A consequence of this option is the task to reorganize and strengthen the Social Ministry at all levels – national, diocesan, and parish, so that, as the Document of [the Latin American Bishops Conference Meeting at] Aparecida says, it might be “structured, organic and integral that with projects of assistance [and] human promotion, if might make itself present in the new realities of exclusion and marginalization which the most vulnerable groups live, where life is most threatened” (Document of Aparecida, #401)

Seeing that we are approaching the season of Lent, we exhort all the faithful to initiate a path of conversion which permits us to recognize our weaknesses and limitations in order to make reconciliation possible within the heart of the Church and society; a way of grace that allows us to discover the Love of Christ which becomes the way to lead us to glory going through the cross. To live Lent definitively, as a privileged time which brings us to the joy of the Pasch/Passover of the Lord, whose joy no one can take away from us (cf. Juan 16:22).

Honduran Bishops Conference