Presiding Bishop sends letter of solidarity to the Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador amid political unrest in the country – Episcopal News Service
[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry sent letter expressing the Episcopal Church’s solidarity with the Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador as political turmoil fueled by the president’s continued consolidation of power threatens democracy and the rule of law in this Central American country.
“As you gather for your first in-person diocesan convention since the onset of COVID-19, I am writing to make sure that we in the Episcopal Church hold you all in prayer, giving thanks to God for all of you. and the opportunity you have. be with each other again. We have a long and deep history of relationships with your diocese, rooted in our love for God and one another, ”wrote Curry in the May 26 letter, scheduled for delivery with this weekend’s convention to San Salvador, the capital.
“It is in the spirit of this deep relationship that we stand in solidarity with you in this time of both a global health pandemic and the challenges of working for peace and human rights. Indeed, we have long been inspired by the way in which the Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana de El Salvador has been a defender of human rights, ”he said.
El Salvador’s legislature earlier this month voted to dismiss the country’s Supreme Court and its attorney general, continuing the decision of the country’s President Nayib Bukele, who took office in 2019, to consolidate the power of his popular party New Ideas.
International criticism followed, with some world leaders calling the government’s action a “legislative or technical coup”. The Biden administration said the move violated El Salvador’s constitution and would weaken other democratic institutions, a concern shared by churches and non-governmental organizations engaged in the work of justice.
“We are concerned that, just like they did with the Supreme Court, it is happening to other government institutions, and we see this as a test of democracy in El Salvador… It is a difficult political moment for us at the moment. El Salvador Bishop David Alvarado told Episcopal News Service through an interpreter. Curry’s letter, he said, reminds the church in El Salvador that it is not the only one. “We feel the solidarity of the church, and it makes us feel that our church here in El Salvador matters to the rest of the church and that their prayers are with us.”
Curry’s letter follows a letter sent last week by the general secretaries of the World Council of Churches and the ACT Global Alliance, who also expressed concern over recent political developments.
“You have personally experienced the pain of violence and oppression and have chosen to reflect the love of God in a world that is in great need of this witness. In our Anglican tradition, we promise to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and to strive for justice and peace among all, with respect for the dignity of each human being. “. We see these same ideals raised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. … We continue in solidarity with you in the mission and ministry of the Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana de El Salvador and the larger Iglesia Anglicana of the Región Central de América, ”said Curry.
Protestant churches in El Salvador – members of the Latin American Council of Churches – have not been directly threatened or persecuted, although their normally open communication with elected leaders, government officials and agencies has been “blocked” , said Alvarado. “We don’t feel the freedom to participate and have our voices heard,” and recent requests for meetings with the vice president and other officials have been rejected. They were also excluded from conversations with the government agency that oversees churches and NGOs, which has expressed “no interest in working with historic churches,” he said.
The Anglican-Episcopal Church of El Salvador is part of the Anglican province of Central America, a region where violent civil wars raged until the mid-1990s and where churches, Protestant and Roman Catholic, historically have worked for peace and justice.
“For decades, churches in Latin America have shown the love of Jesus by standing with the poor, the marginalized and those whose voices would not be heard otherwise. Their faithful and continuous work is an example to all of us, as well as that of faith-based organizations like Cristosal, which has helped to strengthen the human rights of all people in El Salvador and strives to tackle many causes. deep behind the dramatic migratory patterns. we see everything around us, ”Reverend Chuck Robertson, Canon of the Presiding Bishop for Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church, told ENS.
Earlier this month, the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, announced that it would divert Salvadoran government funds directly to civil society organizations or NGOs, citing deep concerns about the actions of the Legislative Assembly on May 1.
In his letter, Curry also made specific reference to the work of Cristosal, whose executive director Noah Bullock has lived in El Salvador and worked there for the advancement of human rights for more than a decade. Bullock is also a missionary appointed by the Episcopal Church.
“We are walking alongside Cristosal, whose ministry of promoting human rights in Central America is such an integral part of the Anglican spirit around the world,” said Curry.
From 1980 to 1992, El Salvador suffered a brutal civil war between its US-backed military government and a coalition of guerrilla groups, organized as the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, or FMLN. The war was fueled mainly by the glaring inequalities that existed between a small group of wealthy elites who controlled the government and the economy and the majority of the population, who lived in extreme poverty. (The FMLN expelled Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, in 2017 for allegedly breaking party rules and then formed the New Ideas party.)
Cristosal began in 2000 as a partnership between the episcopal clergy in the United States and El Salvador. Now supported by Episcopalians, it later became an independent NGO and now works across the Northern Triangle on issues of forced displacement, corruption, monitoring and prosecution of human rights violations and the prosecution of human rights violations. past war crimes – taking the lead in the El Mozote massacre case. It was the Constitutional Court, whose Supreme Court justices were dismissed earlier this month, that, after more than a quarter of a century, paved the way for an investigation into the ongoing trial.
“Human rights work in El Salvador has always been deeply linked to a concept of human rights and dignity that derives from Bible readings. It is at the origin of the human rights movement in Central America and El Salvador, in particular, ”Bullock told ENS. “The defense of human rights is an integral part of the work of the Church in this country. It must be said that democracy here is not an abstraction. When democratic governments were established in Central America, it ended the worst period of modern-day human rights atrocities on the American continent.
“Democratic governance and democratic institutions are guarantees of human life, and if they are undermined and weakened, those protections are lost for Central Americans … This is where our work is rooted, and the inspiration for it. work has always come from the church … The best way for us to protect ourselves is to counter the increasingly hostile public discourse against human rights organizations and to make visible the almost universal support of our cause in the world. This puts us in the spotlight to ensure our safety. “
-Lynette Wilson is a journalist and editor of the Episcopal News Service.