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May 28, 1998

Catholic bishop warns against racism by authorities

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Like many big news stories in Belize the mass robbery and accompanying murder which occurred on the Hummingbird Highway on May second has faded from the nation’s headlines. But the fear instilled by the criminals and then aggravated by the police in their wholesale roundup of Hispanic immigrants remains fresh in the memories of those who live in Belize’s heartland. With these events in mind, as well as the recent murder of a bishop in Guatemala, the head of Belize’s Catholic Church, Bishop O.P. Martin celebrated a solidarity mass on Monday evening in Belmopan. In a homily of unusual forcefulness the bishop condemned those who would invade Belize for evil purposes and at the same time castigated those persons charged with the task of protecting Belize who did not do their job adequately. But Bishop Martin saved his strongest words for what he saw as some disturbing trends… of which the recent police actions are only symptoms.

Bishop O.P. Martin, Roman Catholic Church

“What I would like to see is that the leaders of this nation have greater respect and compassion for the people of this nation, whatever race. I don’t want our leaders to be making fun of our Indian people and this has been happening. They have been ignored. They have to be respected. I don’t want leaders to be making fun of the Garinagu people. I don’t want leaders to be making fun of people. They should be more compassionate, more thoughtful; have a heart much more than a mind. Everything is rationalized. Let’s stop rationalizing and let’s act in a human way, in a compassionate way. That’s the way we will improve our humanity.”

The video tape of the entire mass, shot by the church’s video unit, was broadcast Wednesday night on Channel Eleven and will be repeated tonight at ten.

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