Friday, April 15, 2011

Santa Rosa diocesan Stations of the Cross, 2011

Friday, April 15, several thousand people from all over the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, came to Santa Rosa for the diocesan Stations of the Cross, Via Crucis (Latin for "Way of the Cross").

The texts reflect a reading of the stations in light of life in Honduras today. I offer you here some photos and a selection of the texts which I quickly translated today.

First Station:
Jesus is condemned to death

Matthew 27, 11-25
Theme: Maladministration of Justice 


What great injustice! What a shame that the tribunals of justice lend themselves to this type of attacks against human dignity. The authorities are called to make justice and law prevail, but they act completely differently. Here in Honduras the application of justice ends up being the greatest injustice. The cards are all stacked. Everything is politicized.

The very persons in charge of the administration of justice, the judges, are named by ruling politicians to have them at their beck and call…

And so it appears that after more than 2000 years we have not been able to overcome the fact that the tribunals of justice act manipulating and fitting the law for the interests of minority groups and powerful individuals. And today, as in the judgment of Christ, innumerable injustices are committed. All the weight of the law falls on the poor and humble who cannot pay for a lawyer; but the corrupt politicians who squander the public treasury and the business men who violate the rights of workers, and those who enjoy a good economic situation get the city for the jail or they are exempt from any responsibility. There is Jesus condemned  - in the workers who earn 5,500 lempiras ($290) a month if they are lucky while the deputies in the National Congress gain huge quantities of money and hardly work four hours a month; in the campesinos without land while large land owners fatten their cattle in the best valleys in the country; in the workers demanding their rights while the business owners pressure the government with their policy of abandoning the country if the government demands they do something which might favor the workers….

Second Station
Jesus carries his cross

Mark 8, 34-38
Theme: Exploitation, in the maquilas [piece work factories] and the exploitation of children.


In Honduras there are some types of work that are excessive, risky, and ill paid and there are business owners who take advantage of the need [of people to work] in order not to respect the labor laws. The value of merchandise prevails over the person…

Work ought to be a means of liberation and not of slavery.

Those most in need are weighed down by the cross of exploitation of workers…

For women mistreated by men’s machismo, that those who govern apply the laws that defend women, we pray to the Lord…
That at the social, economic and political levels women are given equality of opportunity, we pray to the Lord.

Third Station
Jesus falls for the first time

Isaiah 53, 4-5
Theme: Alcoholism: against the commandment “You shall not kill."


…With his Cross, Jesus puts himself in solidarity with the weak who fall again and again despite their good purposes and intentions to change….

Many people take advantage of the opportunity to go to confession.

Fourth Station
Jesus meets his mother

John 19,25-26
Theme: The disintegration of the family; loss of values

We beg, in the name of God and the Church, that a stop is put to the exploitation of women who in maquilas [piece work factories], in the houses of the powerful, en nighttime work and that the rights of women as human beings are recognized.

Fifth Station
Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry the cross

Luke 23, 26
Theme: Education and health


The political crisis which originated in the weakening of the institutions [of government] until the collapse with the coup d’état, is being prolonged with great force in the conflicts of the campesinos and of the unions of the teachers and health workers…

In Honduras thousands of young people remain excluded from formal education…

The Honduran people feels frustrated by the lack of the goods most indispensible for life and by the brutal repression of their aspirations for life with better and more human conditions.

Sixth Station
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Isaiah 52, 13; 53-3
Theme: Corruption at every level

Seventh Station
Jesus falls the second time

Luke 22,25 y Mark 10; 42.
Theme: Violence, Hit men, drug-trafficking, insecurity

The death of innocents is contrary to justice.

Eighth Station
Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem

Luke  23, 27-31
Theme: Migrants and unemployment
A life full of injustice provokes migration.
Migration is the consequence of the government’s unjust administration. There aren’t well-paid sources of work and [some] find themselves obliged to emigrate from the country sine the state’s policies are discriminatory in the sense that they only favor party activists and family members of the [political] party in power, following the lines of voracious leaders. Concretely, foreign investors come to exploit the workers and leave them more miserable and limit the opportunity of an integral development.

It is estimated that one thousand Hondurans emigrate each day and 100 thousand a year, following the route through Guatemala and Mexico.

Ninth Stations
Jesus falls the third time

Matthew 11.28-30
Theme: Coup d’état, polarization, reconciliation


…In Honduras, the coup brought us a polarization of the entire society, each person defending their positions, some against and some in favor [of the coup]. What is certain is that we find ourselves divided and we cannot continue in this way since Jesus himself has said that a kingdom divided against itself will come to ruin.

During the coup, there was an increase of violations of human rights: the liberty of expression, with the decree of a state of exception which congress declared, we found ourselves subjected and they took away our right to meet, to circulate freely, threats, detentions, injuries, deaths, etc.

After the coup, the violation of human rights has continued… We can say that the effects of the coup in will continue to be seen in the lives of the poor since those who manipulate political and economic power have their business and even their very interests guaranteed.

For all the families who find themselves divided because of the political crisis, product of the coup, that they return to unity and peace reigns. We pray to the Lord.

Tenth Station
Jesus is stripped of his garments

Matthew 27,34-35
Theme: Extreme poverty


…Jesus experienced mockery, torture and maltreatment who are the fate of the condemned in all the poor countries of the world.

Today Jesus continues to be stripped in so many men and women of our age whose rights have been taken away: the right to life, health, work, dignified housing, freedom of expression, land, work, just wages, equality…

Therefore we Christians ought to struggle for the respect of the dignity of every human being, following the example of Jesus who handed himself over out of love, because before being Christians we are first of all human persons.

Eleventh Station
Jesus is crucified

Titus 2, 6-8
Theme: Two party monopoly (bipartism), traditionalism, client politics (The country is our inheritance.


In Honduras there has never existed an authentic political party. Both are political organizations of descendents of mestizo landowners to defend and increase their privileges and inheritance at the cost of impoverishing and looting the people of Honduras.
Why have the politics parties failed in Honduras? They failed because they never conceptualized an ideology, an ethic, a mystique, a program which was in accord with the reality of Honduras. The landlords/patrons organized themselves to rob the State and to guarantee their business with their power. They made themselves into employment agencies for their party members and so looted and auctioned off the country in the name of the poor…

…We call democracy [rule of the people] what is partidocracy [rule of the political party] and the Rule of Law what is the military transgression of human rights. In this way, there will never appear an authentic and full citizenship in Honduras.

Twelfth Station
Jesus dies on the Cross

Luke  23, 44-46
Theme: Attacks on Life:
(Climate change, mining exploitation, and human rights: disappearances, hired assassins, abortion, drug-trafficking)

The destruction of nature is an injustice against life.
Today there are so many signs of death that we encounter around us where Jesus continues to suffer his death. Our planet, which is our common home, is mortally wounded because of human beings’ egoism, greed and avarice. The desire for riches has led people to place the value of capital and money above every other value of life, no matter if it affects one’s own destruction….

The violation of human rights which legitimates the law of the jungle where the strongest survive…
Jesus with his death offers the poor and humble people a plan for life and liberation, for fullness and true happiness. In Honduras also there are killings, tortures, repression, jailings, beatings, bombings, gas attacks, and assassinations of those who think like Jesus. But his plan is possible is we are ready to live with simplicity gospel poverty, in fraternal openness, identifying ourselves with Jesus’ plan and not with the current powers and oligarchies which only know how to repress and bring out coups in a cowardly manner against an undefended people without weapons who struggle for dignity, truth, and justice, based on the common good.

That we may unite ourselves in a single people who struggle for the refounding of Honduras through the National Constitutional Assembly (Convention) and defend the natural resources, which belong to everyone. We pray to the Lord.

That as a Church we become aware of our commitment and mission to defend human life and nature. We pray to the Lord.

Thirteenth Station
Jesus is taken down from the Cross

John 19, 38-40
Theme: those who have fallen in the struggle


… Jesus Christ suffered out of love for us so that we might attain eternal happiness, making of human suffering a redemptive suffering when it is accepted freely and confronted with divine courage. In this sense, suffering was converted by Jesus in his obligated path in order to come to the glory of the Father and to bring about our redemption. In God’s pedagogy, the suffering of Jesus makes us feel ourselves loved by Him and the object of the Heavenly Father’s choice. This wakens faith in us and through faith love and hope in God.
Meditating on the falls of Jesus on the way to Calvary, we think of the mocking and the derisive laughter of those who saw him fall. To see a neighbor fall makes us laugh instinctively and when it’s a question of someone we hate we even rejoice. When they kill someone who is not a family member or a member of our group, at times we look on with indifference and there may be some who find joy in the death. If they kill campesinos in Bajo Aguan we think that is was because they professes an ideology or that it was someone who was attacking the unjust and supposed established order in which a person who had financial power and the power of weapons uses the power of the state to kill the poor, who the established injustice will slowly kill in all sorts of ways.

Remembering the way of the cross of Jesus of Nazareth we illuminate the Way of the Cross of our diocese which is in solidarity with the poor, rejects the money of graft and bribery and  makes itself poor with the poor to win them to Christ. We pray for those who have fallen in the struggle for land and we put ourselves in solidarity with their families.

[We make] an appeal to the generosity of all of you to send the Mass collection to the families of those assassinated in Bajo Aguan.

Fourteenth Station
Jesus is laid in the tomb

John 19 ,41-42.
Theme: The image of Christ and the image of the Church are buried by the means of communication

…It grieves us that many social communicators because of privileges granted by the bureaucracy or personal or private interests have to quickly hide the truth….

Fifteenth Station
Jesus rises from the dead

Luke 24, 1-5
Theme: The resurrection of the people 

Bishop Luis Alfonso Santos of Santa Rosa de Copán

Reflection of  Monseñor Luis Alfonso Santos:

Holy Week is the celebration of the mission of salvation. Jesus Christ submits himself to his passion and death with the certainty of rising from the dead as he himself had announced: “Destroy this temple and I will build it up in three days.” The temple was his body.

As bishop of Santa Rosa de Copán I accepted the idea of a diocesan celebration in order to call to the attention of all the people of Honduras in the upcoming Holy Week, giving them an example of popular religion and of the deep faith in Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God and Son of Man, who was sacrificed for us. From the five departments of the diocese – Copán, Ocotepeque, Intibucá, and Santa Bárbara – almost always some ten thousand people have come with their parish priests, to this diocesan See, and with the Bishop at the head we have gone to the streets, remembering the Holy Way of the Cross which Jesus Christ walked almost 2,000 years ago.

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is before the Heavenly Father interceding for our sins and that the Risen One will die no more. Nevertheless, the new catechism of Catholic spirituality affirms that the Lord Jesus continues suffering in the members of His Mystical Body  which we are. Therefore, without a doubt, we remember that Jesus suffered and we refer to his suffering in us, especially in the poor who, like Jesus of Nazareth, are born, live, and die in poverty. Like Jesus of Nazareth, the poor in Honduras are unknown by the religious-political powers and are victims of the same conflict, following the banners of the imperialism of their day.

(Today it is the imperialism of money which has been made into an idol.)

Like Jesus of Nazareth the poor are fed with the hope of the Resurrection. They know that the sufferings of this life are nothing compared to the glory that God has prepared for His children and that the poor are blessed because theirs is the Kingdom of the Heavens.

The poverty with which the powerful try to humiliate the poor is, in the Pedagogy of Salvation, an opportunity to believe in Jesus, the God-Human, and this is  made the source of redemption in the hands of a God who, out of love, makes himself poor,  suffers the lack of defense, and freely hands himself over to death in an eternal Way of the Cross which is prolonged in the flesh of his followers until his second coming. Therefore we do not curse poverty but embrace it like Saint Francis of Assisi and all those who have chosen the hidden path of the few wise persons in the world. Paulo Freire states that there is no más alla [more there/beyond/afterlife] is there does not first exist a más acá [more here/a life here/here and now]. For us Christians the beyond of the Resurrection exists because this is a here and now of a life of renunciation of sinful pleasures, an acceptance with hope of suffering, and a work of personal, social, and political perfecting which takes us from less human to more human conditions. [This is a  reference to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio…. Progress is not brought about by money, nor by mining. It is people living with dignity, justice, peace, and holiness.]
Therefore we urge every faithful Catholic to work forcefully to acquire the virtues who make them worthy of eternal live and to bring to fruition works for the good of their neighbor… In this way we are preparing now our resurrection in Christ in a process of death and resurrection, working out our liberation with far and trembling – a liberation which will one day be complete when we are forever with the God of love for all eternity.

This is from the written text. Monseñor made a few changes which are noted above in italics.

Lord, we pray for all those who have worked for justice and peace and have given their lives, that they may be raised up and rejoice in the eternal Kingdom. We pray to the Lord.
For those who have suffered the death of a loved one because of violence, so that they have hope for the definitive encounter in heaven on the day of the resurrection. We pray to the Lord.
That Honduras may rise as a country of peace, justice, and fraternal love. We pray to the Lord.
For a change of life for each one of us and that we may rise with Christ. We pray to the Lord.


The Spanish original of the texts can be found at my Spanish blog, here.

More photos from this year's and earlier diocesan Stations of the Cross can be found here.

I hope to write a reflective piece on the experience of this year's Via Crucis.

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