On Saturday, October 8th, El Periódico de Catalunya, in its digital edition as well as in its print edition, published an interview with Luis Solé Fa, the Vincentian Bishop in the Diocese of Trujillo (Honduras). The bishop is well-known by the vast majority of the members of the Vincentian Family.
The Bishop was born seventy years ago in Tarragona and entered the Congregation of the Mission in 1968 (in L’Espulga de Francolí – Tarragona). He was ordained to the priesthood in 1973 and on March 18th 2005 was appointed by John Paul II to lead the Diocese of Trujillo (in the Department of Colón and Gracias de Dios, Honduras)
During the time of the Bishop’s visit to Barcelona, the newspaper (mentioned above) interviewed him and below we present the complete dialogue. All the photographs, except one (which pertains to the interview) are taken from our archives and thus, highlight various events in the Bishop’s life.
Text of the interview
The white guayabera of Luis Solé Fa contrasts sharply with the medieval cobblestones of the episcopal palace of Barcelona, the place where the interview took place. This Vincentian bishop has ministered for 40 years in Honduras where he is presently the Bishop of Trujillo. During these days the Bishop has been speaking about his experience as a missionary in an attempt to promote the missionary spirit of the Church (especially in light of the celebration of World Mission Sunday, October 23rd).
Having lived in Central America, how does it feel to be residing in this incredible building?
What surprises me even more than the grandeur of this building is that if someone wants to speak with the bishop or the archbishop, one must call and make an appointment. In Trujillo, when on approaches the bishop’s house, the person who opens the door is me. I know that here another system is in place, but it seems to me that this system creates a distance between the bishop and the people.
You have participated in protests with the people … up to what point can you become involved in such movements?
Nothing that is human can be viewed as foreign to us. We have the responsibility to be in the midst of all the various situations which are a part of the people’s experience … and this is especially necessary when those in authority do not listen to the people.
And if the people decide to take up arms?
The Church does not promote or support movements based on violence. People must be formed so that they become aware of gospel values and seek peaceful means.
That perhaps is valid in Europe, but in your country people seem to be able to act with impunity … would you not be encouraging an attitude of resignation?
After centuries of being oppressed and living in situations of poverty, there can be a certain attitude of resignation. But when people see others who are tortured and slaughtered and killed and experience those realities on a daily basis, the real danger is that of indifference. People begin to say: “Today, when I leave the house, I am not sure if I will return”. We attempt to help the people so that they neither become resigned to these situations nor become indifferent. We promote change.
What was Honduras like when you first arrived there?
In 1976, when I arrived there, it was like another country … and I say that with great sadness. There were many wise people who had an incredible love for life.
Everything changed with the entrance of drugs into the country.
Yes, drugs began to enter Trujillo at the end of the 1980’s. I remember the day when some women found a bundle of cocaine on the beach and thinking it was yeast, made cakes.
Is that a joke…
No, the people were not prepared and the authorities themselves were involved in the trafficking of drugs … the authorities have allowed the country to be held hostage by the drug trafficking trade. As Church we do not accept any drug money to cover our expenses or our programs. I have, however, celebrated the Eucharist during which the head of one of the drug cartels held aloft the image of Saint Isidro … with his armed bodyguards standing behind him. It was like a scene from some mafia film.
How have you prevented them from killing you?
We are not a threat to the drug traffickers. We are tired of denouncing them and we feel that such denunciation is useless. The authorities and the Department for the Control of Drugs know the identity of those individuals. But the people in the United States cannot live without this business of the movement of drugs.
How have you been affected by the scandal of the abuse of children?
This situation angers me. In addition to denouncing these situations and bringing criminal charges against the abuses, we also need to review some of the policies in our seminaries … and if that means that there will be fewer priests, then let there be fewer priests.
The idea of evangelizing all people does not sound like some new idea.
We need a new evangelization and new ideas to proclaim the reality of the kingdom of God
in the midst of the world. We are beyond the situation in which the priest or the bishop has to give permission for the people to do something. In fact, we must promote the laity as protagonists of their future. Society changes and the church must adapt herself to those changes. The path of conversion that the Church must travel is that of being a true missionary.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM