Church in conflict

Mediating instead of remaining silent: Honduran Bishop Juan Jose Pineda Fasquelle surprised deposed President Manuel Zelaya with a visit to the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. Zelaya has stayed there since returning to his homeland. In his luggage, the auxiliary bishop from the capital diocese had a clear message.

"No one has ever been happy to take the first step and come out of the woodwork before. As a son of this country and this church, I have decided to take responsibility and take a first step to open the doors for dialogue," the Internet portal of the daily newspaper "La Tribuna" quoted him as saying after the meeting. The newspaper then speculated about a planned meeting of the bishop with Honduran interim president Roberto Micheletti today, Friday (local time). Zelaya himself held talks with a representative of Micheletti's interim government for the first time a short time later. So the signs are for dialogue – this should bring an end to the state crisis. The goal is "to find a peaceful solution," Zelaya told La Tribuna. Micheletti also showed a willingness to talk and suggested former U.S. President Jimmy Carter as a mediator.

Going it alone?

The international community of states had criticized Zelaya's removal from office on 28 February. June condemned and demanded his reinstatement. The ex-president wanted to push through a controversial constitutional amendment with a referendum that would have made his re-election possible. It is not yet clear whether Auxiliary Bishop Pineda was acting on behalf of the Honduran Bishops' Conference or on his own when he visited the embassy. There is as deep a rift running through the Catholic Church in the country as there is through the polarized society, which has long been divided into two camps. New demonstrations by Zelaya supporters and opponents alike on Thursday once again documented the political division in the country. Earlier, Zelaya had celebrated a service at his place of refuge, the Brazilian embassy, with Catholic priest and prominent environmental activist Andres Tamayo. Pictures of the simple ceremony circulated only minutes later on the Internet network Facebook. Tamayo, originally from El Salvador, had lost his second, Honduran, citizenship for helping to organize demonstrations for Zelaya, according to media reports. In addition, he said he was recalled from his parish.

Church not united in its course

in cri Apparently the church is not united in its course in the crisis. Criticism of the episcopate's official position has also been voiced within the Honduran Bishops' Conference: In a recent interview, Bishop Luis Alfonso Santos Villeda attacked the position of prominent Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga: "The cardinal is not the Catholic Church," Santos told the daily newspaper La Prensa. The head pastor of Copan later followed up: Pope Benedict XVI. had condemned the coup d'etat in Honduras, according to his information. Cardinal Rodriguez had criticized the way in which Zelaya was deposed from power, but had described the deposition itself as in conformity with the constitution. On Wednesday, the cardinal was at the Vatican for a brief meeting with Benedict XVI, according to the daily newspaper La Tribuna. The two pilgrims met in Honduras; however, nothing has been made public about the contents of the meeting. The pope had encouraged Rodriguez to pray for the unity of the Central American country and for peace in Honduras, they said only.

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