Yesterday, we wrote about Fr. Javier Giraldo, a Colombian Jesuit and human rights activist who has been receiving death threats and we asked for prayers for Fr. Giraldo. Writing a comment on the post, a friend in Honduras asked: What about Fr. Ismael Moreno, aka Padre Melo, the Honduran Jesuit who directs Radio Progreso? Padre Melo has been receiving death threats too.
Padre Melo has gone into hiding after he and one of the radio station's reporters, Gerardo Chévez, were threatened. The latest messages came in the form of text messages sent to Chévez's cellphone: "jaja les están quebrando el cu. . . a los periodistas habla mier. . . como vos" ("haha they are breaking the butt of journalists who talk s--- like you") and "estamos eliminando a los Chévez después siguen los curas" ("we are eliminating the Chévezes and then the priests"). The threats have been taken very seriously because six reporters and an announcer have already been killed in Honduras in the last two months: Jorge Alberto Orellana (April 20), Luis Chévez Hernández (April 11), José Bayardo Mairena Ramírez and Manuel Juarez (March 26), Nahún Palacios Arteaga (March 14), David Meza Montecinos (March 11), y Joseph Hernández Ochoa (March 1).
In a statement issued April 19th, the Jesuit superiors of El Progreso (Fr. Valentín Menéndez, SJ), Yoro (Fr. Carlos Solano, SJ) and Tocoa (Fr. Juan José Colato, SJ) denounced the threats and indicated that they believe it is retaliation for humanitarian assistance and protection provided by Padre Melo to a young woman, Irma Melissa Villanueva, another Radio Progreso journalist, who was beaten and raped by police during a resistance march in Choloma last August. Her case is known to the District Attorney and national and international human rights organizations.
The Jesuits have filed a formal complaint with the Special District Attorney for Human Rights in San Pedro Sula, asking for a thorough investigation into the death threats and that those responsible be brought to justice.
So, yes, please keep Padre Melo and Gerardo Chévez in your prayers as well. It's a crying shame that in the Year For Priests members of the clergy are being targeted only for doing what Jesus commanded: standing up for the lives and well-being of their flock.