According to a priest working closely with Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, the Catholic Church was not involved in an alleged worldwide plot to overthrow former President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted by a military coup on July 28. According to spokesman, identified on the website for the conference of Latin America bishops as “Calix”, “Not one or the other”, in reference to any purported taking of sides over the ousting of Zelaya and the raising of current President Roberto Micheletti to the presidency of the Central American republic. According to Calix, the cardinal “…called for dialogue ten days before the coup and showed support for consultation with the people,” of Honduras. The spokesman said that Honduras’ bishops are ready to form a commission to foster dialogue, while Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga is hoping to prevent a bloodbath should Zelaya attempt to return to the country, a move that could prove to be “catastrophic.”
In a document released on June 19, the Catholic episcopate wrote “The participatory democracy that we want is only possible under certain conditions. Therefore, we urge those authorities that have been chosen to preserve the legal system to find the means, through dialogue, towards resolving the current conflict and to guarantee to the people of Honduras the regulation of constitutional recourses such as plebiscites and the referendum that, with other instruments such as the Law of Citizen Participation, would permit that the people should be consulted in those matters of great importance.”
Calix spoke of criticisms leveled at the Catholic Church, especially the hierarchy, for allegedly not having spoken out about Zelaya’s removal and identifying it as an accomplice in the coup. He noted that Zelaya’s replacement, President Micheletti, belongs to the same Liberal party as his predecessor. The spokesman said that the Church’s position is that neither the coup, nor the prospect of the indefinite re-elections for Zelaya, are viable. Calix noted that on June 29, the Catholic bishops published a statement to the effect that “democracy should not be used against democracy. “Before the coup, it suggested or begged that all sectors of society should sit down for a broad dialogue in order to find valid and rational solutions to this situation. It should not be a deal amongst politicians but should be a consensus reached between the various sectors of the people , and that it is necessary to take into consideration that the political crisis came along because the democratic system had not been capable of taking the leap towards social justice for the entire country.”
Calix admitted that the church hierarchy had broached to Zelaya its opposition to his re-election plans in a meeting with the erstwhile chief of state some 10 days before the coup. The bishops noted that in other Latin countries there exist well-known means, within the law, that would allow a national decision on Zelaya’s re-eelection. In their meeting with Zelaya, the bishops asked that he cease any attempt towards re-election or remaining in power. When Zelaya told them that he would turn in the reins of power in January 2010, the bishops understood that he had given them his word. However, when a movement emerged to push through a non-binding referendum on his re-election (on the day he was removed), Zelaya gave the lie to his previous statements.
The Church, said Calix, opposed the coup as well, saying that it “considers that the coup is not the solution within a life in democracy. The coup does not resolve the political problem that has emerged over the last decade in the exhaustion of the system of political parties in Honduras; there has been a traditional bi-party system since the last century, since 1920 or so…These parties need to reform themselves, but these reforms should not should not via a caudillo, authoritarianism, nor a coup d’etat…”