Wednesday, November 11, 2009

With the diocese

This week the bishop, the priests, and lay leaders of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, more than 100 of them, are meeting to evaluate the past year and to plan for next year – as well as to work on the third Pastoral Plan of the diocese. The plan has been in the works for a few years, but as the bishop said at Mass the other night it will have to be looked at again, since the situation in Honduras is different since June 28, the day of the coup.

The meeting is taking place in a difficult time for Honduras with elections scheduled for November 29 and no solution in sight to resolve the mess created by the coup.

Tonight I took a walk and had a wonderful conversation with a leader from a town in the hills of the department of Lempira. He insisted on buying me a Coke! We talked about his life, his family, his eight year old son who is, in his eyes, a little genius. (I’m only slightly exaggerating.) We talked about all sorts of things. His wife is a primary school teacher, but because many of the openings for teachers are given out based on one’s political politics, she leaves on Monday and returns on Friday. We also talked about how the economy has worsened here – mostly due to the world-wide economic crisis but also partly due to the effects of the coup.

Many are saying elections are the solution. I have even heard that there are some church programs and priests urging people to vote. But Monseñor Santos, our bishop, told the priests not to tell the people either to vote or not to vote. He sees the need for long-term resistance to the economic and political injustice which pervade Honduras.

But that could be costly.

This became a little more real when Sister Nancy pointed out a priest to me who had been getting death threats, presumably because he had been speaking out on the coup. About a week ago the deanery issued a public statement in his support. A translation follows:

Public Statement

The priests and the pastoral workers in the Deanery of the North of [the department of] Lempira, in the face of the political instability brought on by the coup d’état of June 28 declare in the following terms:
  1. We are in solidarity of the pastoral work of Father Salomé Peñate on behalf of Justice, Truth, and Peace.
  2. We reject the campaign of slander and calumny which some individuals of the traditional [political] parties, anonymously, are making against Father Salomé Peñate and other priests of the diocese.
  3. We forcefully condemn the death threats against Father Peñate and the psychological pressure against some pastoral workers.
  4. We hold responsible the traditional [political] Parties for whatever political and moral harm may come to any of the priests and pastoral workers of the deanery and of the diocese (of Santa Rosa de Copán).
  5. We vehemently request the entities (both civil and military) in charge of the security of the civilian population to take note of this [communication].
  6. We exhort all Catholic Christians to remain faith and firm in their commitment to Christ and his Kingdom – a Kingdom of Justice and Truth of Peace and Love. We recall what Saint Peter said in the Acts of the Apostles 5:29:
“We must obey God before humans.”

Released in Lepaera, Lempira, November 4, 2009.

“Yes to Justice and truth; no to lies and corruption.”

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