Monday, April 09, 2012

No Easter worship in Metropolitan cathedral yesterday

Last week El Salvador's Metropolitan Cathedral was not filled with the faithful Catholics worshiping at Holy Week services.   In fact, religious activities have not occurred in the Cathedral for almost three months.   The cathedral has been occupied by demonstrators since January 10, seeking progress on a variety of demands of related to compensation of civil war veterans.    

After celebrating Easter at a different church yesterday, archbishop José Luís Escobar, called the ongoing occupation of the Metropolitan Cathedral a "sacrilege." 

Angela Smith was part of a delegation who met with the occupiers, and described their concerns in this blog entry:

The occupation is a nonviolent attempt to prompt negotiations with government officials whom organizers say have turned a blind eye to calls for resolution, their demands as outlined in a public notice in early March and expanded upon in our meeting today are the following: execution of pensions for the families of fallen veterans (combatants of the armed conflict), reinstatement of some 3,000 police officers arbitrarily dismissed for political motives between 1999-2001, reinstatement of labor union leader, Luis Ortega, whom they say was dismissed arbitrarily by government officials in violation of labor rights and for political motive, an increase in pensions for wounded veterans, and the issuance of scholarships for the children of combatant veterans of the civil war which ended with the 1992 Peace Accords. They are also denouncing what they refer to as militarization of the civil national police force (Policía Nacional Civil), also in violation of the Peace Accords.
The groups, AVERSAL, FUNDELIDDI, and UNIDAD SINDICAL, representing families of wounded and fallen soldiers and police officers they say were wrongly dismissed along with their families, claim the government has made no real attempt to negotiate and has violated previous agreements. Meanwhile, they say thousands of wounded veterans and their families are suffering in extreme poverty due to political persecution.
In January, the government issued a statement claiming the conflict had been resolved, but the occupiers say the government did not follow through with a signed agreement. After leaving the Cathedral per the agreement which was made, they occupiers returned on the 3rd day of non-compliance with the agreement according to organizers and have not left the Cathedral since. An attempt earlier this month to negotiate ended without progress and a mediation committee has been formed in cooperation with the Procuraduría de la Defensa de Derechos Humanos (a human rights agency of the government which has independent authority to act) in order to mediate before the federal government. Episcopal Bishop Martín Barahona is part of the mediation committee.
I'm not sure the demonstrators are making any progress on seeing their demands met, nor am I sure they picked the most effective strategy.  

2 comments:

POLYCARPIO said...

The force of reason appears to be on Archbishop Escobar's side when he calls the occupation a sacrilege. The Catholic Encyclopedia includes the following discussion in its definition of sacrilege: “turning the church into a stable or a market, using it as a banquet hall, or holding court there indiscriminately for the settlement of purely secular affairs.” It seems that the protesters have elected the one path that is a lose-lose-lose for all involved. They've backed the Church into a corner, turning it into an aggrieved party so that it cannot be neutral and mediate the conflict. They've given the government the perfect pretext not to negotiate, because it can say they're acting in bad faith. Thus, they've shot themselves in the foot, closing their way forward, and they've also turned the public against them, while depriving the Catholic faithful of worship, to boot.

Caminante said...

Catedral has been turned back over to the Catholic Church after a meeting with the Attorney General for Human Rights this morning.