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Honduran Bishop Warns of "Youth Genocide"

A call to action by the Honduran Bishop via Zenit.com

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, AUG. 28, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Honduras is "living through a youth genocide," warns a bishop in San Pedro Sula.

Auxiliary Bishop Rómulo Emiliani, head of the Honduran episcopal conference's office of youth pastoral care, issued a statement to call attention to the more than 300,000 children in Honduras who leave school to go to work, 60% of whom beg for money on the streets to feed their families.

"An enslaved, silent, and inactive youth augurs a depressing future for us in Honduras," he said. "The low levels of schooling, the high rates of addictions and AIDS, unemployment and the absence of a family, together with violent death and the forced migrations to the United States of thousands of youths affects the foundations of our homeland, undermining a productive social structure."

Every month, some 40 to 50 youths are killed in Honduras, he reported, the causes of which are never clarified by the authorities.

The Honduran prelate, 57, issued the statement to raise awareness "that the tragedy is growing, and that our best human and material resources must be invested in the formation of Honduran children and youths."

"This implies improving the Church's youth pastoral ministry, redoubling efforts in all dioceses, with sufficient creativity and audacity to attract thousand of young people separated from the things of God because of ignorance," he said.

Reaching out

"We cannot be content with the youths who come to our churches and groups, who do not add up to 20% of Catholic young people, the majority of whom live distanced from the Church," the bishop wrote in his statement.

He said that the bishops "suffer as a Church to witness this irrational bloodbath, which with demonic violence, rages above all in youths who account for most of the dead. Young policemen, gang members, students, workers and peasants die every day, killed in the country."

"We are talking about a youth genocide," said Bishop Emiliani, "that is fueled by young people without opportunities, hungry, without a family, without a future, who fall prey to drugs or flee in desperation to the United States in their eagerness to grab hold of a red-hot nail, many failing in their sacrificial attempt."

"Some die on the way, others return mutilated by accidents and others end up in brothels in Guatemala or Mexico, deceived by vile exploiters of sex," he said.

"Of those who make it, some succeed in working, while others end up in gangs or vagrancy and many are sent back to our country, bringing with them great frustration and, some of them, bad habits that they have acquired. This cannot continue," said the bishop.

He added: "Our generation and the preceding ones have an enormous burden of guilt for not having been concerned about young people.

"The great theft of resources destined for the people which swelled the pockets of the corrupt in long years of impunity and the neglect with which these problems have been handled, has resulted in what we are living through: an abandoned and disoriented world of youth."
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