Sunday, January 17, 2010

Honduran Jesuits statement, January 2010

Statement of the Society of Jesus in the face of the national reality


Toward the search for an integral human development,
which is just and in solidarity in Honduras.

We are on the eve of a new public administration and, under normal circumstances, this event is always an opportunity to awaken hopes for society as a whole. Nevertheless, the constitutional rupture which happened after the coup d’etat on June 28, 2009, brought to a head a conflict which had been building up for many years. The assumption of a new public administration can only be a real opportunity for all of the society if it is situated in the fundamental national challenge of seeking a true route to the deep division and polarization which are eating away the entire Honduran family.

[The year] 2010 receives us with the entire human, social, political and religious fabric broken. We need to open new paths through a route where all sectors of society commit our words and our hearts because consensuses have disappeared and we need to commit our fate to a new National Convocation around a New Social Compact which leads us to a new project for peace with the purpose of remaking the broken fabric and orienting ourselves along a path of authentic reconciliation.

To advance toward this convocation of a New Social Pact, the members of the Society of Jesus in Honduras (Jesuit priests and brothers) suggest that we take into account the following factors so present in the current national crisis:

1. Conversion:

“Social institutions do not guarantee by themselves, in a mechanical way, the good of all: “the interior renewal of the Christian spirit” ought to precede the commitment to better society.1 In the face of the current national situation, we consider that a starting point ought to be the recognition that in this Honduran crisis no one is exempt from responsibility and no one can blame everyone else, much less consider themselves to possess the truth. To seek a way out, a condition to make this possible is that each person and each sector of the country move away from its position to encounter the positions of the others. If we all move away from our own positions, we will be able to advance toward the construction of a path which would be the expression of shared consensuses. From our Christian faith that self-critical recognition of openness and moving toward listening and discernment of what others believe and think, are characteristic expressions of an authentic conversion: a conversion which leads to decisions to change in the interior of the heart being expressed in not only sensing, looking at and listening to how everyone lives but ends up accepting the way others live, the others we normally categorize as our adversaries and enemies. Without a decision which is the fruit of authentic conversion, whatever agreement over a way out of the current crisis would always be only a partial way out, which in fact would signify letting conflict in the state and in society always keep its place.

We recall the words of Pope John Paul II in his message for the 1997 World Day of Peace:

“the weight of the past which can not be forgotten can be accepted only in the presence of a pardon which is received and offered reciprocally: it is a question of a long and difficult journey, but it is not impossible.”2

“Reciprocal pardon does not negate the demand for justice, and much less does it obstruct the path which leads to truth: justice and truth, instead, represent the concrete requirements for reconciliation.”3

2. Economic Model

“Experts in economics, workers in sectors, and those responsible in politics ought to pay attention to rethinking the economy, considering on the one had the dramatic material poverty of missions of persons and on the other hand the fact that by means of the current economic , social, and cultural structures it is very difficult to take charge of the demands of authentic development.”4 A true way to resolve the present conflict ought to include historical and verifiable signs of transforming the present economic model which causes an increasing gap, which presently appears unstoppable, between the rich and the poor. While this model supported by social exclusion will always be a decisive factor in regard to political instability and will produce violence. Let us remember that “underdevelopment … is an unjust situation which promotes tensions which conspire against peace.”5 Whatever may be a true and wide-reaching way out of the conflict it ought to have the will of all sectors to transform the bases of the current model, starting with a commitment, also verifiable, with those sectors of society which find themselves with fewer advantages to move their lives forward with respect and dignity.

3. Preferential option for the poor.

To decenter ourselves from our own interests in order to seek a way out which has as its center the life and dignity of the most defenseless sectors is what we in our Christian faith take as the Mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of a God who saves all of humanity by becoming flesh in the weakest of this world 6 and which, from the perspective of the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean we call the preferential option for the poor. This option “is one of the characteristics which mark the physiognomy of the church in Latin America and the Caribbean(…) If this option is implicit in christological faith7 we Christians as disciples and missionaries are called to contemplate in the suffering faces of our brothers and sisters the face of Christ which calls us to serve him in the,: the suffering faces of the poor are the suffering faces of Christ…8 Everything that has to do with Christ has to do with the poor and everything related to poor calls out to Jesus Christ…” 9

It is clear that the option for the poor is an intrinsic making our faith concrete and in is one judges the sense of one’s own life. This option has to be personal and communitarian, has to intersect with the person in concrete and with structures, has to come from the heart and has to be expressed in actions in history.

4. Truth Commission:

“The truth will make us free.”10 A true way out in order to resolve the present conflict would be to go through a commitment to know the truth about what in fact happened, in regard to human rights violations, crimes of treason [insulting humanity] and of violation of freedom of expression before, during and after the events of June 28, 2009. If we really want to advance toward a way out that leads to reconciliation within the whole Honduran family, we must thoroughly investigate and scrutinize those deeds where abuse of power left human injuries which cannot be healed while the victims are not recognized [do not receive their dignity] and those responsible are not held accountable by a serious and impartial judicial process. For this, an independent authority [instancia] is indispensable, made up of very credible persons and sectors, national and international, who are impartial in their judgments so that, in the space of ninety days from when it is set up, it offers to the government and society at large an initial report about what happened in the period noted, identifying the deeds, the authors and victims, and with the commitment on the part of the state to bring to judgment those responsible for these barbarous situations.

5. Political Corruption

For a way out of the conflict with an enduring and decisive reach, there must exist a commitment, with verifiable mechanisms to confront the political corruption of the state in which factors are involved which link various sectors which are responsible for the political and business life of the country. Political corruption is one of the most acute illnesses which our country suffers, and its damage is so profound that in many occasions those who most often speak about it and propose measures to combat it are the very ones who are most questionable in their commitment to it. In our country, many things don’t work, or work only halfway or work poorly. Nevertheless there is an authority [instancia] which has functioned faultlessly, the two party system [bipartidismo] with its impressive capability to obtain monetary advantage [capitalize] in its favor by means of all the reforms it makes. For the most part the institutions which are created to diminish corruption end up being made up of members elected or named by the elites of the political two party system.
This is called political corruption and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church identifies very well the dangers and damages which this corruption represents for society: “Among the deformities of the democratic system, political corruption is one of the most serious because it betrays at one and the same time both moral principles and the norms of social justice. It compromises the correct functioning of the State, having a negative influence on the relationship between those who govern and the governed. It causes a growing distrust with respect to public institutions, bringing about a progressive disaffection in the citizens with regard to politics and its representatives, with a resulting weakening of institutions. Corruption radically distorts the role of representative institutions, because they become an arena for political bartering between clients' requests and governmental services. In this way political choices favor the narrow objectives of those who possess the means to influence these choices and are an obstacle to bringing about the common good of all citizens.” 11

6. Depoliticization and social oversight [vigilance]

To combat corruption, we value as necessary strengthening of institutional order [institutionality] and the Rule of Law for the purpose of fulfilling accepted position [currency] that all citizen are equal before the law and that there are no privileges because the Rule of Law guarantees that no one is above the law. In this sense, we see that it is necessary to remember that “the authority ought to issue just laws, that is, conforming to the dignity of the human person and according to the dictates of right reason…when on the other hand the law is against reason it is called a wicked law; in that case, it ceases to be law and becomes, rather, an act of violence.”12

Likewise, we consider it necessary that mechanisms be created which guarantee the institutional independent of the state from the political parties and that control organs of the state be formed of members whose election does not depend on the leaders of the political parties; we likewise suggest that it is necessary to create authorities [instancias] of diverse sectors of society, connected with the state’s control organs with the function of social oversight over national and municipal budgets and the budgets of autonomous and semiautonomous authorities/agencies of the state.

7. Insecurity and violence:

For a true way out of the conflict which holds us polarized, we consider the need to move forward toward a commitment in the face of the problem of the insecurity of citizens and the violence which affect the lives of the entire society and which has managed to establish itself with expressions of viciousness and cruelty as an extreme manifestation of the deterioration and contempt for the life and dignity of human beings. We do not believe that the signs and manifestations of violence are solved with public policies that stress coercive means and even less do we believe that violence is solved by legislative decisions that criminalize specific social sectors on the base of the single fact that they are young people and live in urban areas or in marginalized rural areas. We do not believe in public policies that give a priority to harsh responses instead of preventive response because, instead of advancing toward solving violence, they generate environments of revenge. We want to aim at the root causes which produce violence and insecurity. Therefore, we propose that the state promote and put into action policies which revive the agricultural sector in order to thus avoid the immigration of youth into the cities, policies for ongoing and worthwhile/dignified production and employment in the cities as well as in the countryside; that they put into action strong measures for a true purification and formation of the structures and personnel of the police, beginning with the officers; reforms of the penal system; putting into action new and decisive policies against drug-trafficking and illicit enrichment which runs through the social fabric of our nation.

In this way, the Society of Jesus confirms its commitment to the service of faith and the promotion of justice in Honduras and declares its interest in seeking ways which bring a true peace, the fruit of justice.

Given in Honduras, on January 6, 2010, the day of the Epiphany of the Lord Jesus.


NOTES:
1 Pius XI, Quadragesimo anno, 218.
2 Cfr. John Paul II, Message for World Peace Day, 1997
3 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 518
4 John Paul II, Encyclical Sollicitudo rei socialis (1988), 570
5 Second General Conference of Latin American Bishops. Medellin (1968), p. 109
6 Cfr. Juan 1,14
7 Cfr. Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est (2005)

8 Benedicto XVI, Discourse at CELAM Aparecida (2007). Cf. 2 Cor 8,9.

9 Fifth General Conference of Latin American Bishops, Aparecida (2007) # 391, 393
10 John 8: 32.
11 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 411
12 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, I-II, Ed. Leon 7, 164
13 Isaiah 32, 17


Translation mine. Suggested corrections are most welcome.

The Spanish text can be found on my blog in Spanish or at Vos El Soberano.

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