|Church fears opponents
will blow up Christ statue
By Paul Jeffrey
January 19 (ENI) - The new Christ statue that looks down on the capital
city of Honduras will have permanent security to protect it from "mentally
ill" persons who have stated they will blow it up, Tegucigalpa Archbishop
Oscar Andres Rodriguez has announced.
The 33 meter high statue was inaugurated on January 16. Some 5,000 Hondurans
attended the dedication ceremony, which was presided over by Rodriguez.
Both President Carlos Roberto Reina and President-elect Carlos Flores also
Reina praised the statue, saying it was made from "sand of the poor, gravel
of the rich, the cement of love, and the iron of faith."
The US$600,000 statue, entitled "The Resurrected Christ," is located atop
Picacho Mountain just north of downtown Tegucigalpa. An undisclosed portion
of the statue's cost was provided by the Reina administration and the office
of the mayor of Tegucigalpa.
Claimed by its sponsors to rival the Christ the Redeemer statue on Mount
Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, the Honduran version is slightly shorter than
its Brazilian cousin. In addition, it can be hard to find atop a hillside
covered with poor houses. More visible than the statue is a huge series
of white letters--a la Hollywood--spelling "Coca Cola."
Seated beside Rodriguez during the ceremony were Leo Frade, the Anglican
bishop of Honduras, and Orthodox leader Pablo Mussa, bishop of the Antiochian
Apostolic Catholic Church of Honduras.
Frade told those participating in the two and a half hour dedication that
his and Mussa's presence "publicly demonstrated that the Christ of Picacho
isn't only for Roman Catholics."
Although the statue was criticized by some non-Catholics here during the
early phase of construction, opposition has been muted of late.
One exception has been provided by the evangelical Soldiers of the Lamb
Church which held a December 23 rally in the La Merced Plaza here. During
the rally, church leaders burned a photo of the Virgin of Suyapa, the patron
saint of Honduras.
At the same time, they announced they would take "an army of believers"
to tear down the Christ statue atop Picacho, arguing that Christians shouldn't
Rodriguez on January 17 admitted that church leaders were taking the threats
seriously and said the statue would be guarded 24 hours a day.
"Just as there is joy among those who have gone [to the statue], there
are also some persons who are mentally ill with the plague of violence,"
In response to other critics who have denounced the high expense of building
such a statue in one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, Rodriguez
announced January 18 that the foundation that constructed the statue would
continue to raise money to be used in reforesting Picacho Mountain and
in providing decent housing to the poor families who live in marginal neighborhoods
underneath the statue.