Monday, June 10, 2019

Honduran bishops' statement on the current crisis


HONDURAS BISHOPS CONFERENCE
MESSAGE
Let love be sincere! Detest what is evil and hold on to what is good!”
(Romans 12: 9)

We, the bishops who are members of the Honduras Bishops Conference (CEH), in our Ordinary Plenary Assembly, from June 3 to 7 of this year, have prayed, reflected, and discerned on the situation which our country faces, intending to assume commitments which we wish to share with our brothers and sisters in faith and with people of good will.

We consider that the principal problems which most concern the citizenry are the high cost of living, crime and violence, unemployment, grave deficiencies in the health and education systems, corruption. But there are other problems that are equally likely to provoke conflicts, like the ones we are now facing in terms of health and education or even more serious ones: problems in the way that the Honduran National Congress legislates, problems in the decisions of the Executive, in the crises of state businesses, in the services of energy, water, transport, etc.

If every problem drifts into conflicts like the one we are now living, about the health and education systems, and if every conflict is handled with the same inefficiency, the consequences can drown Honduras in a crisis very difficult to overcome.

Therefore, here is what becomes even more sorrowful and understandable: the indignation of the majority of the population, the suffering of the poorest, the disappointment of the youth, the fear of the migrants, the anxiety of the sick, the powerlessness in the face of corruption and impunity, the weariness of those who struggle for a better Honduras without seeing results.

We believe that the seriousness which many conflicts acquire is due, first of all, to the incorrect way that the powers of the State manage them; in some cases, by being the causes of the problem and, in others, by not knowing how to resolve them with the resources proper to a participative democracy, and letting the passage of time allow them to resolve themselves alone, when really the conflict in the conflictive situation [conflictividad] only gets worse [sharpens].

Another element which makes conflicts worse is the polarization which makes them even more complicated, introducing double agendas and blurring the clarity of the objectives that are being fought for.

We do not doubt that the protest demonstrations intend to be peaceful, but to permit the infiltration of violent elements belittles [discredits] the end which they seek and abridges other rights of the population which also ought to be guaranteed.

The responsibility of the police is to guarantee order and the security of all the population. Nevertheless, some actions of the police can be characterized as actions of disproportionate force and with this they add another element of seriousness to the conflicts.

We are very seriously concerned about the future of our Honduras, thinking that if it isi not known how to resolve the problems that have come together [problemas coyunturales] adequately, how could we resolve those which, being structural, demand a serious reordering of all the elements which constitute the Rule of Law [Estado de Derecho]?

A Constitution violated as many times as it suits, some powers which are not at all independent, a Congress that has turned itself into a theater with the worst actors, turning its back on the people. There is a need for an electoral power which guarantees the transparency of voting and gets rid of, once and for all, all the electoral crimes. Any number of State institutions broken by corruption, an economy paralyzed - above all in agriculture, a shameless sale of the natural goods of our earth. A false reform of the Penal Code, which simply converts it into an instrument to protect the corrupt and the drug-traffickers, with the appearance of being better by making harsher the penalties for those supposedly more “dangerous,” who tend to be marginalized young people and the poor who are desperate to eke out a living (survive - subsistir).

All this, and much more, makes our hearts cry out – Enough already!

It is necessary to put in order the direction (marcha) of Honduras, from the commitment to rescue some ethical values which we have been losing or which have been weakened to the extent in which the crises have not been adequately solved. The moral decadence in which the country is falling worries us greatly. It is never licit to do evil to obtain good.



RESPECT FOR LAW: The obligation of authority is to issue just laws, in accord with the dignity of the human person and ordered to the common good. When it doesn't act in this way, authority becomes illegitimate and loses its right to be obeyed.

To educate in knowing and respecting laws is an unresolved [pending – pendiente] task which is urgent at all levels, including the legislators themselves so that they stop approving what they have neither read or understood.

CONFIDENCE. This is what we have been losing and what constitutes the firm hope in the good which there is in people and institutions.

Deception which can provoke many conflictive situations doesn’t have to lead us to believe that we cannot trust anyone, to have no trust in anything. Psalm 37:3 invites us: “Trust in the Lord and do good; settle in the land and hold yourself faithful.”

POLITICAL ETHICS. “A democracy without values easily becomes a totalitarianism, either visible or hidden, as history shows us” (John Paul II, Centesimius Annus, 46).

The reputation of an authority and its right to be respected by the people depend on the moral rightness of the ends it pursues and the means it uses for them.

Frequently, protest demonstrations in a society are not attacks on politicians but [ways] to defend themselves from them [the politicians] and from their abuses.

THE TRUTH. It is not a product decided on by the majority and conditioned by political interests and agreements. Social coexistence [social living together] is ordered and respectful of the human being when it is based on truth. Therefore, seeking truth is the basis of true dialogue.

DIALOGUE. Solidarity, as fruit of the concern for each other brings us closer to dialogue as a way or instrument for the seeking of mutual understanding which facilitates reducing tensions and finding, in the middle of conflicts, possibilities of bringing positions closer together and of seeing with more clarity where the common good is. To dialogue is not obtaining at all costs what I think; it is seeking together what is better for the Common Good. Dialogue fails when someone does not want to listen because he considers himself to possess the truth.

We wish to make a call to the State institutions that they fulfill their duties by the same faculties that the Law and the republican system gives them.

We wish to make a call to the society as a whole that, from the reality that every person and group lives, [the society] consider the necessity to join in the pursuit of ways of solution for Honduras. Whether it be by means of pacts, agreements, reforms, platforms, a plebiscite or referendum, laws of citizen initiatives, etc. Let us go forward becoming conscious [tomando conciencia] that a change for the better is possible and taking up the commitment to achieve it in solidarity.

We as Christians wish to commit this process of the history of Honduas to the Mother of our Lord, Our Lady of Suyapa, to whose love and intercession we have recourse,


In the city of Tegucigalpa. 6 Junio, 2019.
CONFERENCIA EPISCOPAL DE HONDURAS
[Honduras Bishops Conference]



-----------

The Spanish original can be found here.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Inspiration for a Pentecost Vigil homily



Our parish is having a twelve hour Pentecost Vigil in the village of Oromilaca, starting at about 6 pm tonight. I was going to try to get there early – but a major thunderstorm has come in and I’ll try to wait it out for another half hour.


Thursday morning, my pastor asked me to preach at the Vigil. I tentatively agreed. I have my notes ready but it’s not written out. I’ll have time to prepare a bit more since Mass won’t begin until about 2;00 am.

We are using all the Vigil readings, plus the account from the Acts of the Apostles of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the Pentecost Sequence, Veni, Sancte Spiritus.

Pope Francis’ exhortation Christus Vivit, his response to the synod on youth, inspired me. He calls, very clearly, for a rejuvenation of the Church, as he wrote in paragraph 37.

Christ’s Church can always yield to the temptation to lose enthusiasm because she no longer hears the Lord calling her to take the risk of faith, to give her all without counting the dangers; she can be tempted to revert to seeking a false, worldly form of security. Young people can help keep her young. They can stop her from becoming corrupt; they can keep her moving forward, prevent her from being proud and sectarian, help her to be poorer and to bear better witness, to take the side of the poor and the outcast, to fight for justice and humbly to let herself be challenged. Young people can offer the Church the beauty of youth by renewing her ability to “rejoice with new beginnings, to give unreservedly of herself, to be renewed and to set out for ever greater accomplishments.”

He pointedly cites the prophet Joel, which we will hear tonight, and remarks in paragraph 192:

The prophecy of Joel contains a verse that expresses this nicely: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (3:1; cf. Acts 2:17). When young and old alike are open to the Holy Spirit, they make a wonderful combination. The old dream dreams, and the young see visions. How do the two complement one another?

This is a message we need to hear in Honduras – where the old systems of power, domination, violence, and poverty reign. We need to hear the dreams of the old people who have struggled for justice for decades and the visions that many young people have for a country that treasures its young, it poor, its old – and lets them lead toward a world that we pray for in the sequence:

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!...
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray….
Give [your faithful] joys that never end.

This is not the homily I’ll preach – but these words have been my inspiration.

As I finished this post, the rain let up and so I'm off to the Vigil in a few minutes.



***
Pentecost Vigil Readings 
for the Dulce Nombre de María Parish

Genesis 11: 1-9
Exodus 19: 3-8, 16-20
Ezekiel 37: 1-14
Joel 3: 1-5
Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-11
Romans 8: 22-27
John 7: 37-39
* * *