Jesuit receives TM'd death threats in Honduras

New media has been credited with getting the story out in Iran after government censorship shut off mainstream journalism. Here's a little indication that it can also be put to less-to-no good during periods of chaos and drama as Honduras is currently experiencing. Father Ismael Moreno, S.J., and his Radio Progreso have been outspoken supporters of the Resistance movement and have already drawn the unhappy attention of the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti (which today shut down two opposition media outlets). OCLACC, the Organización Católica Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Comunicación reports that Moreno has been receiving death threats via text message on his mobile phone. Though he can't say if the messages are merely jokes in extremely poor taste given the current tension in Honduras or if they reflect a campaign of psychological intimidation against commentators calling for the restoration of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, it is certainly disquieting to learn of offers of half a million lempiras "por la cabeza del Padre Melo," as he is known in Honduras. My Spanish is not great, but if I understand the OCLAC report, Father Moreno charges that other supporters of the resistance have likewise been receiving these threats via text.

Today's extraordinary events began with a short-lived emergency decree suspending civil liberties from the Micheletti government that was quickly withdrawn after the announcement was roundly deplored by the international community and among Honduran congressional leadership. In an extraordinary press conference Micheletti apologized to Honduran citizens and said the Supreme Court would lift the decree as soon as possible.


According to the New York Times, the Obama administration was sending its own mixed signals about the state of affairs in Honduras (or perhaps succumbing to some frustration with both Zelaya's and Micheletti's hijinks):

In Washington "the State Department condemned the government’s actions. 'I think it’s time for the de facto regime to put down the shovel,' said a spokesman, Philip J. Crowley. 'With every action, they keep on making the hole deeper.'"

But at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, where diplomats were meeting to discuss the Micheletti government’s expulsion of four of its diplomats on Sunday, W. Lewis Amselem, the acting American representative, called Zelaya “irresponsible and foolish” for returning to Honduras before a negotiated settlement was reached.

“The president should stop acting as though he were starring in an old movie,” Mr. Amselem said.

Meanwhile the split within the Honduran church became more apparent on Sep. 24 with the release of a new statement from the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, rejecting "the [June 28] coup d’état because it violates the constitution of the Republic, principally articles 3, 71, 72, 84, and 102, restricts constitutional guarantees, puts the Armed Forces and the National Police in opposition to the humble people, compels the people to insurrection (cf. Constitution article 3), causes instability and unrest in the citizenry, and has caused grief to many families because of homicides, and the wounded and beaten whose number increases every day."

Though the nation seems to have stepped away from a deeper crisis today, there is no clear path out of the current political standoff. For a blow by blow about what is happening in the streets and within the church in Honduras, John Donaghy's blog is certainly worth paying attention to as the crisis deepens. Donaghy is a lay volunteer with the Catholic diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras.

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9 years ago

"Split" referring to those clerics who have supported Zelaya's removal and those clerics like Bishop Santos and Moreno who are associated with the resistance, whether or not they frankly advocate Zelaya's restoration. Santos most recent missive refers frankly to Zelaya's removal as a "golpe de esatdo" and expresses support for Father Andrés Tamayo, who has been threatened with expulsion because of his support of the coup resistance. It's true that all the local bishops, including Santos, signed a letter on July 3 agreeing, with reservations specifically on Zelaya's to their mind unlawful deportation, that the his removal was allowed under Article 239 of the Honduran constitution. Santos clearly has developed signer's remorse since then.

9 years ago

I hope that you will pardon me for asking this question, but what do Fr. Moreno's and Fr. Tamayo's activities have to do with saving souls?  What business do their Excellencies Bishops Santos and Moreno have involving themselves in a political/constitutional dispute of this sort?  Again, what does any of this have to do with teaching the faith and caring for the Christ's flock?
Perhaps I am naive, but it seems to me that priests should have enough to do trying to carry out the Great Commission.  Instead of which, here I detect the stench of "Liberation Theology" once again.

9 years ago

Hi, Mr. Jennings,
You spoke of the “stench” of liberation theology.  It’s more complicated than that, according to Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II   For openers, here are a couple of quotes.  I’ll enclose the links so that you can read the articles they’re taken from.
The first is from Paul Sigmund’s review (in Theology Today) of Basic Ecclesial Communities in Brazil: The Challenge of a New Way of Being Church.  The second is from Richard Ostling’s article (in Time Magazine), A Lesson on Liberation.
1.  “… Azevedo covers the important debate on liberation theology between the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Ratzinger, and leading members of the Brazilian church. He cites the two Instructions on liberation theology issued by the Congregation, and reproduces in full the letter of April 1986 to the Brazilian bishops from Pope John Paul II, which endorsed liberation theology as 'timely, useful, and necessary' provided that it was 'consistent and coherent with the ongoing Magisterium of the Church.' The letter followed extensive discussions with Brazilian bishops who opposed the strong negative stand taken in the first Instruction because of liberation theology's supposed Marxist overtones.
2. “…[T]he Pope and Ratzinger agreed to incorporate advice on the contents of the second text from 35 national conferences of bishops, and as a result the Instruction has a moderate tone. The general drift of the new Instruction became known at an extraordinary meeting at the Vatican last month between the Pope and leading Brazilian bishops. John Paul told the Brazilians that, 'purified of elements that could adulterate it, with grave consequences for the faith, this theology of liberation is not only orthodox but necessary.',9171,961069,00.html

9 years ago
Twice you've told readers that the Church in Honduras is split. Please explain the split so that we have a better understanding of the situation. Apparently both halves base their position on constitutional arguments. Didn't Cardinal Madariaga criticize Zelaya on constitutional grounds?
Gabriel Marcella
MaryMargaret Flynn
8 years 12 months ago
The T.V. program WOrld Focus had clips of what happened after the lawful goverment was outsted illegally; namely the poor in remote areas no longer have any aide, an incomplete hospital which was being buildt stands empty and rotting, no electricity, little food, no education.  This community of many souls is now under the new goverment are left stranded because of no Foreign aide.  Since I sent my little bit to Heifer's International aide to Hondouras I am wondering if even their efforts have stopped.  So it is the "business" of preists to be shephards to the poor.  Why goverments cut off aide because the goverment changes is beyond me. Certainly the Church should not pull back too.  These poeple's very lives depend on this aide.  But now the ursurper has effectively killed thousands. 


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