News
Fr. Ismael “Melo” Moreno, SJ
Jesuits Decry Attacks on Honduran Jesuit Fr. Ismael “Melo” Moreno, Prominent Human Rights Activist

August 7, 2017 — On July 31, the feast of St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus, Latin American Jesuits raised an alarm for one of their brother Jesuits, Fr. Ismael “Melo” Moreno, director of the Honduran Jesuit radio station, Radio Progreso, and the Honduran Jesuit social action center.

An outspoken human rights advocate in a country plagued by government corruption and violence, Fr. Melo has worked for years to promote dialogue while advocating for the marginalized.

Last year when the national university, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH), was embroiled in student strikes, Fr. Melo sat at the negotiating table at the request of students. While agreements were reached between the students and the university, this year student strikes and protests continued, and in the aftermath many students have been injured at the hands of university-hired security forces and many more arrested. In addition, the recent murder of the father of a student activist, who was killed after attending the judicial hearing of his son, has created a climate of fear for those exercising their right to protest peacefully.


Fr. Melo at a protest.

On July 19, at a concert held on campus, Fr. Melo joined hundreds of students protesting the treatment of their fellow classmates by university authorities. Retaliating against Fr. Melo for his support of the students, the university’s rector accused the Jesuit of promoting anarchy and generating violence. The university subsequently canceled its contract with ERIC, the Jesuit-run social action center that Fr. Melo leads.

In their statement, the Jesuits of the Central American Province said, “We want to declare that the attacks directed against Fr. Melo are the consequence of working to defend the human rights of all sectors of society. … The defense of human rights … is the horizon that guides the work of the Society of Jesus in Honduras.”

The statement, which was endorsed by the president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S. and the president of the Conference of Provincials for Latin America and the Caribbean, expressed strong support for ERIC-Radio Progreso and Fr. Moreno for maintaining “a spirit of open and flexible dialogue, of reasonable tolerance, and of unwavering struggle for justice.”

Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S., said, “Fr. Melo’s entire life has been devoted to freedom of expression and human rights. It’s egregious that he’s being accused of inciting violence when he’s watched dear friends like environmental activist Berta Cáceres be gunned down for speaking up for the people of Honduras.”

According to U.S. Jesuit Matthew Ippel, the public attack against Fr. Melo by the university rector is a threat and part of a pattern of attack against human rights defenders. “It is embedded in a larger narrative that makes any dissenting voice the enemy. It is deeply alarming that those who advocate for justice, for the defense of the rights of the marginalized and excluded, are being discredited, criminalized and assassinated.”


Matthew Ippel, SJ, with Fr. Melo.

Radio Progreso, an important independent voice in a country where most broadcast outlets are controlled by special interests, serves both rural communities and large cities. In the last several years, two employees of ERIC-Radio Progreso have been murdered and threats have been made against others. In late March of this year, a defamation campaign targeted Fr. Melo and other activists.

According to the Organization of American States, Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world for human rights defenders.  

In 2015, Fr. Melo was honored with the prestigious Rafto Prize for his “defense of freedom of expression in one of the most violent countries in the world.” In accepting the prize, Fr. Melo said, “I believe profoundly in life, and I profoundly believe in human beings and I deeply believe that the good will prevail against any kind of evil and violence.” [Sources: Central American Province of the Society of Jesus, The Jesuit Post]





Recent News

This fall, the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight program will mark a decade highlighting the mission of Jesuit education through basketball with two Jesuit Basketball Classics, played by four men’s and women’s teams.

Father Lawrence Bernard Murphy, SJ, longtime teacher at Loyola High School and parish priest at St. Brendan’s Church, Los Angeles, entered into God’s peace October 18 at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, Calif. He was 90.

The Jesuit High School of Sacramento Board of Trustees has unanimously appointed Father John P. McGarry, SJ, as the school’s new president. Father McGarry will assume his duties at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.

From November 4-6, nearly 2,000 individuals — mainly young adults representing 26 Jesuit colleges and universities, 49 Jesuit high schools, seven Jesuit parishes, current and former Jesuit Volunteers, and hundreds of alumni of Jesuit schools — gathered to hear speakers talk about social justice concerns ranging from Black Lives Matter to LGBTQ communities in the Catholic Church to feminism and environmental justice.

Father Thomas Edwin Buckley, SJ, professor emeritus of history at Santa Clara University and long-time professor of history at Loyola Marymount University, entered into God’s peace November 8. He was 78.

Nearly 2,000 individuals, including nearly 200 from Jesuits West universities, high schools, Nativity schools, parishes, and social ministries, will gather for the 20th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C., November 4-6.

After three years of discernment, conversation and collaboration, Jesuit education leaders from around the world gathered last week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the first International Congress of Jesuit Education Delegates.

view all news

Search news

Publications

Mission Magazine - Fall 2017

Mission Magazine - Fall 2016

Mission Magazine - Spring 2016


Companions
Fall, 2017

Update
Summer, 2017

Update
Spring, 2017


Loyola Institute for Spirituality
Loyola Institute for Spirituality (LIS), founded in 1997, is located in Orange, CA. LIS provides many programs and services for individuals, parishes, and dioceses throughout Southern California and beyond.