Honduras: Cardinal and the Constitution

Honduras: Cardinal and the Constitution

It's a good 30 minutes by car from here to the Catholic retreat center where I traveled to meet Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga last week. The brick compound sits just off a dirt road on a hillside in a forest of tall pines. When I arrived the sun was going down, and in the stillness of the early evening the world seemed serene.

Yet for the cardinal, life lately has been anything but peaceful. Ever since then-president Manuel Zelaya began preparing to overthrow the constitution earlier this year so that he could remain in power past his term limit, Honduras has been in turmoil. And the Catholic Church has found itself necessarily involved.

The hard left has argued that the decision to depose Mr. Zelaya was driven by elite antipathy toward his activism on behalf of the poor. But the cardinal, who is an outspoken advocate for the downtrodden and a longtime critic of Central American income disparities, does not share that view. He has supported the removal of Mr. Zelaya. I wanted to hear more about that.

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Honduras's Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga opposes Manuel Zelaya's return to power.

"It has been so painful," Cardinal Rodríguez tells me, emphasizing the last word. The pain, he says, has been generated by those who have attacked the church leadership as "golpistas," that is, backers of a military coup. In this part of the world, after so many years of military dictatorship, there is hardly a greater insult.

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