Benedict XVI Talks With Honduran Cardinal

Ousted President Still Holed up in Embassy

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 23, 2009 ( As the political crisis in Honduras continues to escalate, Benedict XVI today spoke with the president of the Honduran episcopal conference.

The Pope and Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga spoke privately after today’s general audience. The Vatican has not given details of the conversation.

The cardinal, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, is also president of Caritas Internationalis.

The political situation in Honduras continues to be delicate: President Manuel Zelaya, accused by many Hondurans of breaking constitutional law with an attempt to extend his term, was ousted on June 28. He quickly tried to return to Honduras and retake power, but his attempts failed. Unable to make it back to his nation, he set up camp near the border in Nicaragua.

However, on Monday, Zelaya succeeded at secretly entering the Honduran capital and is now holed up in the Brazilian embassy. The government of interim President Roberto Micheletti has placed the city under a strict curfew.

Papal rumors

Meanwhile, a rumor circulating in the press that the Holy Father recently spoke with a Honduran prelate and opposed Zelaya’s deposition is false. ZENIT asked Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi to confirm that in the last few days, the Pope met for some 15 minutes with Bishop Luis Santos Villeda of Santa Rosa de Copan.

The spokesman explained that the Holy Father’s meeting with the bishop was in June of last year, during the Honduran bishops’ five-yearly visit to Rome.

«Obviously there was no mention of the institutional crisis in Honduras,» Father Lombardi stated, «since the problem simply didn’t yet exist.»

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