Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A gentle, fiery priest

Yesterday there were two major demonstrations against the coup.

In Tegucigalpa the demonstration turned ugly. The reports are confusing – What’s new? – but a fast food restaurant (Popeye’s) and a bus were burnt.

In San Pedro Sula, according to El Tiempo, the least conservative mainstream newspaper, it was quiet different. Their headline read “Asi se protesta: En orden y en paz” – “Thus they protest – in order and peace.”

What struck me, though, was that the San Pedro Sula included a Mass, concelebrated by Jesuit father Ismael Moreno and the Santa Rosa 81 year old diocesan priest, Father Fausto Milla. I wonder if their presence and the Mass they celebrated made the difference.

Padre Fausto usually celebrates the Sunday Mass in the church of San Martín de Porres, two blocks up the hill from where I live in Santa Rosa de Copán. When I’m in Santa Rosa I try to get to Mass there.

Padre Fausto usually gives rather long homilies, usually including a political message, though based in the scriptures and almost always accompanied by what I would call a deep piety. He is a very gentle and affectionate man, who has a history of opposition to injustice. He also has an organization that promotes natural medicine, organic agriculture and healthy diets. He at times preaches against Coca Cola and chips – which too many people eat here, ignoring the great fruits and vegetables.

Padre Fausto suffered in the 1980s for his prophetic stances; he was jailed and after released he went into exile in Mexico for a few years. An account of his life, in Spanish, appears at

But he still speaks forthrightly.

An article in El Faro quotes part of what Padre Fausto said in San Pedro Sula yesterday.
Brothers and sisters, let make peace and not violence. Repression can only be fought against and overcome with peace. Here, confronting us we don’t have the families of the oppressors, we don’t have anyone with a famous name. These police are our brothers; they are López, Ramos, Pérez.”
I have lived 81 years as a Honduran. I have lived and have seen many things, but never anything comparable to what we are all seeing today.”

Where there is inequality, freedom does not exist. This people is not fighting a fratricidal war between two sympathizers from two political parties. This people is struggling to achieve that equality, brought about by those oppressors who have now stolen that which we has the most right to have: sovereignty. They are the criminals and I don’t say this; Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution say this: The people is the sovereign; whoever steals this sovereignty is a traitor to the country, a criminal!

Some who worked on the writing of the Constitution have now told me that they regret (repent) having written article 3, because article 3 calls for insurrection, brothers and sisters, to return to the people the sovereignty which has been stolen from them here in Honduras.

Correction: It is not clear that the Tegucigalpa march turned violent. It seems that a few persons - after the demonstration and apart from it - were responsible for the limited violence. This is not to condone any violence but to avoid castigating the thousands of peaceful marchers with the deeds of a few.

Addition: Rebel Girl on her Iglesia Descalza blog translated the El Faro article. Thank you.

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