Council of Churches weighs in on Belize-Guatemala dispute

vlcsnap-2016-05-24-09h44m56s140The Belize Council of Churches says it supports Government’s program of diplomacy with relation to the Belize-Guatemala dispute and is calling for all involved to avoid unnecessary conflict. That is the main plank of a statement issued this morning during a press conference called by the Council at the ITVET Conference Room in Belize City. With the rest of it here is Bishop of the Anglican Diocese, Philip Wright:

Fr. Dorick Wright, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese: Following the latest incidents between Belize and Guatemala and the ongoing vlcsnap-2016-05-24-09h44m59s236negotiations aimed at arriving at a solution to the situation on the Sarstoon, the Belize Council of Churches recommends the following: The Belize Council of Churches supports actions that seek to avoid confrontation in the Adjacency Zone, between Belize and Guatemala, on the Sarstoon, and all along the border between Belize and Guatemala.  Secondly, the Council of Churches supports the diplomatic course that is being pursued by the Government of Belize as it seeks to address the latest incidents of force and intimidation from the Guatemalan government and military.  The Belize Council of Churches calls on the people of Belize to support the peaceful approach that our government brings to the negotiation table.  The Belize Council of Churches calls on the Government of Belize and the opposition party to work together for the common good of Belize and a peaceful solution to this problem.  The Belize Council of Churches calls on all parties involved, governmental, political and non-governmental to work for a united front at arriving at a peaceful resolution.  The council calls on the media to be more responsible in its reporting so as to avoid an atmosphere of panic amongst all parties.  The Belize Council of Churches calls upon the Government of Belize, the opposition party and all who are intimately involved in the process to be resolute in their effort at maintaining Belize’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Council says it has been closely monitoring and discussing the issue and chose to speak now as things have become especially heated. According to President Reverend Roosevelt Papouloute, the Council does not support Saturday’s planned trip to the Sarstoon by the Opposition People’s United Party, but in their recent meeting they did not try to dissuade Opposition Leader John Briceno from going through. In related news, the Council has set May 29 as a National Day of prayer for a peaceful resolution to the dispute:

Rev. Roosevelt Papouloute, President- Belize Council  of Churches: All churches are invited if they want to join us on that day. It’s vlcsnap-2016-05-24-09h49m25s205going to be across the nation on the same day, and we’re going to set out some of points of prayers that we would like to focus on so that Belize, from Toledo to Corozal can pray together as one nation.

And just as the politicians and diplomats are meeting halfway around the world face to face, the church is conducting its own brand of diplomacy. We hear more from Roman Catholic Auxiliary bishop Christopher Glancy, who has been in contact with the Archbishop of Guatemala City:

Fr. Christopher Glancy, Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop: I called him yesterday, I know Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian from meetings that I have been with him both in Costa Rica and Bogota Columbia. I in fact visited him in his office as well in Guatemala City when I was there giving retreat to a group of priests. So, we have a relationship already and I thanked him for his words and said, we were interested in looking at how we could pray together and work as church in neighboring countries more exploring those possibilities, what we might be able to do together but since it hasn’t been set yet, I don’t want to make any announcements further than that, other than we are in dialogue.  I also made a call to the president of the Bishop’s Conference, Bishop Rudolfo Valensuela, we were back and forth playing phone tag so I didn’t actually talk to him but did send him an email about the situation as well.  [He’s] another of the bishops over there that I do know and so we’re already in dialogue.  I know Bishop Wright, Bishop Phillip Wright has also sent communication to his counterpart in the Anglican Church there in Guatemala.  So there is some ongoing dialogue on what we can do, how can we work together both to pray for peace and to build stronger relationships between the peoples of our countriesvlcsnap-2016-05-24-09h51m18s881

The BCC represents the traditional Christian denominations, particularly Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and Methodism.

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