This document has been referred to several times in the discussion of the current political crisis in Honduras and provides some context to the events of July 28 and the varied responses of the religious community to the coup.
Communiqué of the Honduran Bishops’ Conference
Give, then, your servant a wise heart to govern your people and to be able to discern between good and evil. (1 Kings 3:9)
The Bishops of the Catholic Church of Honduras, united in our second annual meeting, to the People of God and to the Honduran society in general, we declare the following:
1. We wish to be faithful to the mission to announce the Gospel by means of the formation of consciences, the defense of values, above all truth and justice, and the our contribution to the common good. This responsibility reminds us of the Document of Aparecida which affirms: “The Church should also help consolidate the fragile democracies, in the positive process of democratization in Latin America and the Caribbean, even though there currently exist serious challenges and threats of authoritarian deviations” (Document of Aparecida, 541).
2. The political juncture that has been produced by the internal elections in the political parties, the election of the Supreme Court of Justice. The naming of the Attorney General, the rumors of a coup d’état and the preparations for a poll over a fourth ballot box have produced in us a deep concern for the divisions and the polarization of forces which gets deeper in our society.
3. From different communications media, civil groups, and the people itself, there is an insistence on the need to present and try to resolve the enormous social problems which have been being put off: such as increasing social violence, reduction of the State’s financial resources, unemployment, the increase of organized crime and drug trafficking, the reduction in the force that moral and religious values have in our society, vulnerability in the face of natural phenomena, land tenure, etc.
4. In one way or another all of us are responsible for this ensemble of problems that threaten our democracy. The Powers of the State, its institutions and organisms, when they politicize their actions and stain them with corruption, abuse of power, and the intention to impose on our country a single way of thinking. The political parties are also responsible who consider themselves inheritors of the state’s patrimony [inheritance] in order to administer them, in many cases, in terms of their own personal interests. Also responsible are the so-called “groups of power,” nation and international, which are difficult to identify because they act in the shadows, insatiable in their eagerness for enrichment, who block or place conditions on integral development and deepen the unjust inequality in which we live. And, finally, all of us who form the Honduran society are responsible in so far as we become indifferent and passive in the face of the dangers which threaten our weak democracy, which is more electoral and representative than participative.
5. The participative democracy which we seek will be possible only if certain conditions are met:
- Decisive effort so that there is true SOCIAL JUSTICE as a commitment of all the citizenry, above all of those who aspire to elected office. We believe that given the extent to which capability, conscience, and ethical responsibility seem to be developing in political leaders, political functionaries (figures), and those responsible for the banking system, the social injustice which now exist will lessen. Because without Social Justice there can be no real democracy.
- DIALOGUE as an instrument which converts natural differences and social and cultural pluralism into opportunities to improve proposals for the future and bring a consensus on political and economic decisions. For this we need a dialogue which includes all the sectors of society and which puts us on the path not only to surmount the current crisis but also to find a national project to work on together.
- We ought to consider CONSULTATIONS of the citizenry, far from provoking fear, as an important resource for political participation, if and when they are realized within the framework of the law since “political representation does not exclude, in fact, the direct involvement of citizens in the decisions of major importance for the life of the society” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 413).
6. A free and sovereign society can only be constructed with the participation of all the citizens, feeling themselves co-responsible for the well-being of Honduras. But a true channel of citizen participation can not be done against the laws themselves. The Law can not be disobeyed in the name of persons whom one wishes to benefit, as one cannot be democratic without respecting Democracy, “imposing the power of a specific group on all the other members of society” ([Pope John Paul II,] Redemptor Hominis, 17).
7. On the way to preparing for the coming elections we consider it necessary that there be a process that allows the divulging of knowledge of the Constitution at all levels. This effort will have more benefits for the citizenry than all the costs, some of them of doubtful sources, of the excessively long political campaigns.
8. The citizenry ought to demand of those who present themselves s candidates in the coming elections that they show their understanding of the needs of the nation, their ability to exercise public offices, their honesty, and authentic sensibility toward those most in need. Likewise the candidates have to publicly confirm their commitment to respect the processes of political participation and to work so that the Laws are at the service of the good of everyone, especially the poorest, and not work to adjust them for the specific interests of persons, groups, or political parties.
9. We ask the three powers of the state, the dependent institutions and, especially, the Armed Forces, to guarantee the transparency, the organization and the good functioning of the coming elections so that they become a demonstration of peaceful living together and of respect for the Constitution just as the Honduran people desire. We pray to God that the Holy Spirit enlighten the hearts of those of us who live in this fatherland which is Honduras. And we pray to the Virgin of Suyapa who, with her motherly presence, reminds us in every moment that we are children of God, brothers and sisters, and that she will guide us toward unity, justice, and peace.
Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., June 19, 2009
translation corrected November 27, 2009
translation corrected November 27, 2009