As we brace ourselves to enter into the suffering of Christ in Holy Week, all around we see His crucified peoples.
We hear hateful anti-migrant rhetoric that blames the victims of decades of failed U.S. policies in Latin America—policies that have contributed directly to the spiraling violence and poverty from which migrants are fleeing.
So it was in late March that a 70-member faith delegation traveled to Honduras and drew close to a living Passion.
We met hundreds of courageous Christ figures who daily face death threats for denouncing injustice and living out Isaiah’s call to be a “light for the nations.” Among them were our hosts, Honduran Jesuit Ismael Moreno (Padre Melo) and his staff at Radio Progreso.
They introduced us to lay catechists, jailed on false charges for protesting the poisoning of rivers, and told us how the judiciary, police, and other public institutions have been corrupted since the 2009 military coup. They handed us Pennsylvania-made tear gas canisters that Honduran security forces—who kill land defenders and human rights activists with impunity—used against protesters.
This Holy Week, how might we help take down from the cross the crucified peoples of Honduras and “open the eyes of the blind” to their plight? We can begin by urging support in Congress for the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, HR 1945, which suspends U.S. assistance to Honduran security forces.
We concluded our visit with a stations of the cross or Viacrusis, aptly renamed “Viacrisis.” For the Fifth Station, Padre Melo and his people reflected that international solidarity is their Simon of Cyrene. For me, the courageous Honduran people pursuing justice are a beacon of hope for our own broken nation, offering a sliver of light even before the stone is rolled away.
Jean Stokan serves as on the justice team with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, and as vice-chair of the National Council for Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement. She has led many dozens of delegations to Central America and the U.S.-Mexico border, and advocates on immigration policy issues in Washington, D.C. She is married to Scott Wright and has a daughter who is a senior social work major at Loyola University Chicago.