World Council of Churches - News Release
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For immediate release - 10/08/2009 13:47:51
ECUMENICAL TEAM ENCOURAGES HONDURAN CHURCHES TO STAND BY THE PEOPLE
An international ecumenical team that visited Honduras on behalf of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) has encouraged the churches in Honduras to "accompany the people in their search for peace with justice and the re-establishment of democracy".
Visiting the Central American country 2-7 August as a Living Letters team, the ecumenical group stressed the need for "Christian voices be heard […] in defence of human rights and in support of humanitarian actions". This is urgent since "violence has intensified with the passage of days" following the June 2009 coup that replaced the elected president by an interim government.
In a "Message to the churches of Honduras, Latin America, the Caribbean and the world", the team called for the end of "repression, arrests, forced disappearances and violence directed against the population and especially against women".
Living Letters are small ecumenical teams visiting a country to listen, learn, pray for peace and share approaches to overcoming violence. They are organized in the context of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence in order to prepare for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Kingston, Jamaica, in May 2011.
According to the Living Letters team, the Honduran people "do not accept the imposition of a de facto government". The team therefore called for "the re-establishment of the constitutional order as soon as possible", and stated that "the return of President [Manuel] Zelaya" would open the way to hold "free and legal elections […] within the framework of the constitution".
On 28 June a coup by the military and civilian sectors sent President Zelaya into exile. Roberto Micheletti, the speaker of Congress and second in line to the presidency, was sworn in as interim leader. The coup took place in the context of a power struggle over President Zelaya’s plans for constitutional change, which had been rejected by the Supreme Court and the Congress.
International condemnation has been near-unanimous. The Organization of American States (OAS) demanded the immediate reinstatement of the ousted President and suspended Honduras from the grouping as the interim government failed to allow Zelaya’s return. An OAS delegation is expected to visit Honduras for mediation talks on Tuesday.
"As a consequence of the political events, the need to heal wounds and to seek reconciliation becomes apparent", the Living Letters team stated. It called on the churches "not to resign themselves to accept the present situation" as well as "to accompany all people who suffer and to practice solidarity with those in greatest need".
Living Letters team members were Jim Hodgson, from the United Church of Canada, Rev. Alfredo Joiner, CLAI regional secretary for Central America, and Silvia Regina de Lima Silva, a researcher at the Ecumenical Department of Research (DEI) in Costa Rica. Noemí Madrid de Espinoza, administrative rector of the Theological Community of Honduras and vice-moderator of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, was also part of the team.
Full text of the Message from the Living Letters team:
Latin American Council of Churches
Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 firstname.lastname@example.org