Church in Honduras Urges Dialogue

Denounces Both Zelaya’s Plans and His Expulsion

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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, JULY 6, 2009 ( The Honduran bishops’ conference is calling for dialogue as the solution for the grave political crisis afflicting the nation with the ousting of its president.

In a televised message Saturday, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa and president of the conference, denounced both the military ousting of the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, and Zelaya’s plans to reform the Constitution so as to extend his rule.

The episcopal statement, the cardinal explained, was prepared after consultation with governmental and civic bodies. And this consultation resulted in the prelates’ affirmation that «all Honduran democratic institutions are operating and in place, and the execution of their mandate has occurred in strict adherence to law. All three branches of the state: executive, legislative and judicial are within democratic legal boundaries, according to the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras.»

The cardinal contended that Zelaya, «at the moment of his capture, was no longer performing the duties of the Republic’s presidency,» because of his proposal to reform the article of the Constitution that denies presidents the right to extend their terms. That article also dictates the «immediate» cessation of executive functions for whoever attempts such a reform.

Nevertheless, the cardinal continued, another constitutional article declares that «no Honduran citizen can be expatriated neither surrendered to a foreign state.» And he thus affirmed: «All of us believe we deserve an explanation of the happenings of June 28,» that is, the day Zelaya was deported to Costa Rica.


The prelates called for hearing «all opinions, in such a way that a true dialogue can be established among all sectors of our society, aiming to reach constructive solutions.»

They supported the plan for elections in November of this year and affirmed the «international community, with proper and accurate information about the situation of our country, can contribute to these purposes.»

In his address, Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga called on his «friend» Zelaya not to return to Honduras, so as to avoid a bloodbath. «I know that you love life,» he said. «I know that you respect life, and up till now, no Honduran has died. But your return to the country in this moment could set off a bloodbath. Please, consider this. Because afterward it will be too late.»

The day after the cardinal’s message, Zelaya did try to return to Honduras. His plane — flown by Venezuelan pilots provided by his ally, Hugo Chávez — was unable to land because the military blocked the runway. One 19-year-old Zelaya supporter died in clashes between them and the riot police at the airport.

Tuesday, Zelaya was to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today repeated his condemnation of Zelaya’s military removal.

Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga also addressed words to international organizations during his Saturday address.

He urged the Organization of American States, for example, to «pay attention to all previous events occurring out of legality in Honduras, and not only to what happened on and after June 28. The Honduran people are also asking why you have not condemned the belligerent threats against our country.»

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Translation of the cardinal’s statement:

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