Strengthening the culture of life and peace in Central America: is what the Secretariat of the Catholic Bishops of Central America (SEDAC) asked at the end of their meeting in Honduras' capital city, Tegucigalpa. The weeklong bishops' assembly gathered more than 50 bishops from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
Topics for discussion included: poverty, insecurity, organized crime, institutionalized corruption and drug trafficking.
Victor Hugo Alvarez, who directs a Catholic newspaper in Honduras, reported that central theme was "peace in the region". While, in Central America today, there are no more bloody conflicts between government and insurgent forces that convulsed the region for decades, new forms of violence have emerged. The rate of murder and other violent crime, the rise of armed gangs and the growing corruption of law enforcement, are areas of particular concern to the bishops.
In addition, unemployment and the lack of opportunities for young people, who then migrate to the United States, are also issues that were considered by the bishops. Many migrants from Central America are killed or disappear on their way to 'El Norte.'
The final message of the Assembly points out that "in the midst of people who love truth and honesty, and who has always fought for equality and freedom, there are still adverse situations such as social exclusion of the majority of the poor, corruption in the society and the state, the violation of human rights".
Faced with these challenges - said the president of the SEDAC, Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes of Managua, "we must become pastors who walk in front of our people, pointing out the right direction, witnessing love and the Kingdom to build with peace and freedom". The Bishops' text concludes by inviting everyone to commit themselves "to building the Kingdom of God in Central America, a Kingdom of justice and peace".