Support Padre Melo and Radio Progreso
On March 24, 1980, while preparing to consecrate the host, Archbishop Óscar Romero was gunned down at a small chapel in San Salvador. Through his ministry, Romero championed the preferential option for the poor while speaking out against poverty, social injustice, assassination and torture in El Salvador. He was martyred at the altar that day for speaking truth to power.
This past January, a large delegation including 8th Day for Justice staffer Jill Landrith visited Honduras at the invitation of Father Ismael Moreno Coto, affectionately known by his community as Padre Melo. He is a Jesuit priest serving the people of Honduras. Padre Melo called for the delegation to visit because like Romero he has found that his life is in danger for amplifying the voices of those in his community.
The delegation was particularly needed at this time because President Juan Orlando Hernández was inaugurated on January 27, 2018. Hernández, who has been accused of corruption for years, was backed by the United States government after fraudulently winning an election that he was constitutionally ineligible to participate in. The delegation was present to bear witness to the state sponsored repression of the Honduran people as they protested against the crooked electoral process and to walk with Padre Melo as his life was being threatened.
Photo by Mark Coplan – day of the inauguration
Padre Melo is the director of Radio Progreso, a Jesuit-run radio station and the Reflection, Investigation and Communication Team (ERIC), a Jesuit social action and analysis center. He has felt the call to embody the principles of Catholic Social Teaching by speaking truth to power, testifying openly about the violence, torture, social injustice, poverty, and assassinations happening in Honduras. Because of this, leaflets have been distributed targeting Padre Melo and other justice leaders, journalists, and activists. Every member of Radio Progreso has received death threats. These modern day prophets have put their bodies on the line to stand with the economically poor in the righteous struggle for liberation and justice, and they need us to stand with them.
There is an opportunity to help protect Padre Melo from meeting the same fate as Archbishop Romero. The Radio Progreso team would like to install bullet proof windows on their studio to provide safety for the staff and volunteers as they continue to tell the stories of those suffering in Honduras. In addition, they are currently driving in an open air vehicle as they travel to report on the condition of the people, political events and human rights abuses in the country. They are seeking an enclosed vehicle to shield them as they continue this important work. The windows and vehicle cannot guarantee the physical safety of Padre Melo and the others at Radio Progreso, but it is a step in the right direction.
Photo by Mark Coplan – Padre Melo speaking at a candle light vigil in front of the US Embassy
Paul tells us that we are all one in the body of Christ. If one part of the body suffers, we all suffer. And so it is that we have been called to do what is within our ability to do. We are able to protect our friend and leader in the struggle for peace and justice. Please donate what you can to help protect Padre Melo and the brave peacemakers at Radio Progreso so they can continue the work they are doing.