Tegucigalpa Cathedral, Wiki images
A Catholic priest in Honduras has appealed to the government to provide security for its citizens in the face of the wave of crime and violence which is plaguing the country.
Speaking during his Sunday Mass homily in Tegucigalpa's Metropolitan Cathedral, Father Luis Enrique Gutierrez called on those in power to be 'good shepherds' and to care for, unite and lead the people. "Honduras needs good leaders to become shepherds to guide the path of this country, which is enveloped by various problems of security, health and education," he said. He added that "a good shepherd is one who knows lead to good pastures and clean waters, who defends the sheep, who knows how to heal them, who cares about them, who devotes his time and his own person, who has a good heart and feels compassion for the needy, who is not self-seeking but the strives for the good of all, who finds time to listen and care for the people entrusted to him."
He noted that the leaders are leading people to ruin. "We know the bad shepherds, who do not care for the sheep but look out for themselves - so instead of uniting and guiding them, they disperse them, and not defend them against potential dangers," he said. He added that sometimes people complain about the bad shepherds, but unfortunately do not denounce them for their actions.
The priest also called on his parishioners to act with generosity and to be more active, and not to be consumed by stress with all the problems that Honduras finds itself in. He added, "we all need some peace in life, prayer, silence, physical and spiritual retreat to purify the mind and nourish the soul."
Honduras is currently experiencing a crime wave which is driven by poverty, impunity, corruption and infiltration by drug traffickers, and there is one murder every 74 minutes. The murder rate in Honduras has doubled since 2005, with 86 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2011. Gang violence and police corruption are the main causes of the current wave of extreme violence, and Mexican drugs cartels now operate in the country. Since the 2009 coup, journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders have increasingly been targets of politically motivated assassinations.