Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good news and bad

The Santa Rosa de Copán diocesan assembly ended today, a day earlier than planned. It was a fruitful meeting with about 100 priests and lay leaders meeting with the bishop to plan for the coming years – and to prepare the way for the diocese’s third pastoral plan.

The third pastoral plan will be prepared by a commission based on the deliberations and recommendations of several diocesan assemblies as well as meetings of the priests’ council. The diocese hopes to have it written and approved some time next year. It’s a twelve year plan to be reviewed every three years.

In the bishop’s official naming of the commission he noted the six theological pastoral principles for the diocese:
  1. Option for the poor
  2. Participation, Communion, Liberation
  3. Three fold ministry [prophetic, liturgical, social]
  4. Proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom
  5. Creation and Life
  6. Common Good, Faith and Life
Not a bad choice of basic principles, I’d say. If course they fit well with the diocesan general objective:
to work for a diocese organized in church base communities which are in solidarity, prophetic, missionary and transformative, contributing to the integral formation and liberation of the human person, preferencially those most in need, to make presence the Kingdom of God.
During the assembly Caritas did a little survey to pull together some data on the 41 parishes of the diocese. The results will be tabulated later but I did a quick look and found out, to my surprise, that there are more than 5630 church base communities formed or in process of being formed in the diocese. That’s impressive and provides a very useful means for the diocese to continue its process of evangelization.

The meeting, though, closed early because of two deaths. The mother of the priests died of cancer and some were going to her funeral.

But what had really shocked the assembly was the violent death of a Capuchin Franciscan priest who served in the parish in Nueva Ocotopeque and in the Capuchin community there. (Nueva Ocotopeque is in the diocese of Santa Rosa.) Padre Miguel Angel Hernández Salazar. ofm cap, a Guatemalan, had been missing since Saturday when he went to an area in nearby Guatemala, reportedly to buy some materials for religious education. His body was found on Tuesday. It does not seem that this was politically motivated since the area in Guatemala where he was passing through is known for its crime and, according to one report, he was not very politically engaged. However, he was somewhat involved in the local church's ministry to migrants.

But at the assembly we also heard of another case of threats against a priest in the diocese, in addition to the one I mentioned yesterday. Padre Julián Diez, CP, a Spanish Passionist priest, is pastor of the parish of San Juan Bautista in Quimistán, Santa Barbara. He has been supportive of the diocesan position against the coup and received threats for his stance.

Where this will lead I do not know. But as the November 29 elections come closer and as there seems to be no hope of a solution of the constitutional crisis, the next two weeks are bound to be tense.

Veering from my normal course:

And now for a bit of my commentary on my own country.

I hear a lot of people here stating that the US was behind the coup. I’ve tended to be somewhat skeptical about such claims.

However, in my estimation, the US has not played a very good, just, or even-handed role in regard to coup. It has been half-hearted in its calls for a reversal of the coup. It has been quick to critique Zelaya and slower than a turtle in critiquing Micheletti. It has been almost silent in the face of human rights violations and repressive measures of the coup. The statements of the US representative to the Organization of American States have been disgraceful. Its latest maneuvers in the face of the failed San José/Tegucigalpa accords, especially the remarks of Shannon intimating that the US will recognize the elections, have set back the possibility for a just solution. I fear that the US administration – especially the State Department – has not supported the cause of justice, human rights, and democracy.

I would have hoped for better.

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