Honduran Bishop wants to run for President

Bishop Santos

Bishop Luis Santos Villeda is hoping for a birthday present from Pope Benedict XVI – permission to run for President of Honduras, once he turns 75 and retires as Bishop.

Known as the ‘Red Bishop’ because of his support of the Liberal Party which uses a red flag, Bishop Santos hopes that the Pope will allow him to run as a candidate of a progressive faction of the Liberal Party, whose last president, Manuel Zelaya, was deposed in a 2009 coup.

The Bishop has been a supporter of those opposed to the government since the coup. This has made him at odds with Tegucigalpa Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, who backed the coup.

However, not everyone supports his move.

“The decision of the bishop to get involved in politics after stepping down as bishop does damage to the church and damage to politics,” said Jesuit Father Ismael Moreno, director of Radio Progreso, a station closely identified with the Honduran left.

“Politics here is historically closely linked to clericalism. So when a bishop or priest decides to participate in partisan politics, that doesn’t help us move toward a political culture of citizenship,” said Father Moreno.

“And it would damage the church because he’s not a bishop of unity, rather, he has fostered confrontation. So it would divide Catholics even more than they’re divided now, and not in the name of the struggle of the poor, but rather in the name of party politics. That would harm those in the church who are struggling to serve the community without being interested in achieving quotas of power. It would make a lot of the rest of us look like we’re participating in social movements because we’re interested in personal power,” Father Moreno said.

Bishop Santos rejects the notion that church leaders should remain outside partisan politics.

“It’s very convenient for the rich that the church remains outside of politics, because that way they can mistreat and steal from the poor without the church protesting. They’re happy because no priest will complain. And if one does, they label him a communist,” Bishop Santos said.

“Why do I get involved in politics? Because it is politics that has screwed the poor,” the bishop said.

Full Article: National Catholic Reporter

Image:  National Catholic Reporter

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