This past Saturday, Catholic Missions from Belize and Guatemala held a unity and peace mass at the Western border. Representing the Catholic Mission in Belize was Bishop Christopher Glancy and representing the Guatemalan Mission was Bishop Rodolfo Valenzuela. Love News spoke with both bishops. Bishop Glancy said the church can help resolve the conflict in pragmatic ways.
“The Roman Catholic church on both sides of the border are coming together. I called some of the bishops there whom I had known and and had been in meetings with and said that we should come together to pray for peace, for coming together as brothers and sisters and that we help this process along that Belize and Guatemala can live in peace and recognize each other and recognize our borders. Across the centuries the church has worked for peace and when there are conflicts to help bring people together to talk in peace and I think yes our church certainly will do that and has done that. Pope Francis worked in the diplomatic mission to bring about reconciliation between the United States and Cuba recently and in the past John Paul the second there was a border dispute between Chile and Argentina and they helped to bring that to a peaceful close so besides here in Belize we know that Guatemala and Venezuela are having border disputes, Palestine and Israel there are a lot places that we need to pray for and work for peace. Some of it is political I think what that Archbishop of Guatemala said that 40 years ago this should have been solved and in some ways the politicians use it because it’s an advantage to them to distract their people when there are real problems so I think that is part of it that for some people it’s better for them that the conflict continues because they can use it to their political advantage which is sad but I think that we have to stand up and work for peace and you see the people those who are closest they are not in conflict and they want to come together more.”
Bishop Valenzuela said that the churches are willing to work with both Governments to ensure that the matter will be resolved peacefully.
“In terms of land people are capable of fighting because a couple of meters so I think that is a very important item and it should be cleared out that Guatemala identifies Belize as a different country and Belize recognizes Guatemala as a different country. We are not anymore in those times where we are still asking for land, that is over and we should work on the actual facts now and that is why we as bishops and church are also asking and trying to support the work of the authorities to put a clear limit which at the right moment aren’t. The inhabitants of the area are not interested in confrontation. That is the first message we have, seeing that people are up to continue with the relationships and life shouldn’t be affected; we have seen that with this meeting and with our talks these days but we do know that there is also a legal problem that should be solved.”
Present at the mass were Ambassador Said Badi Guerra and Former Mayor of Belmopan, Anthony Chanona. Both of them reiterated a message of peace.
SAID ‘BADI’ GUERRA
“Belize looks highly when it comes to these kinds of events that bring peace. As I was mentioning to the Prensa Libre just now Belize has been known always for being a peaceful country and so we like these activities. Belize has always been known for being a peaceful country and proof of it is that Central Americans have left their country and have made Belize their home and I emphasize the fact that students cross into Benque. We need to move on, trade needs to continue ,commerce needs to continue, we need to continue working together as one people respecting each other.”
“As a Belizean we all have to work at peace, there is a part of the bible that says blessed are the peacemakers. You make something by working at it and I know for example and I would like to congratulate Said Mena when we were in office we had the opportunity under the mayor’s association to try to establish relationships with the mayors on the other side of the border. I know for example the City of Belmopan took the initiative to do a sister city relationship with Guatemala city but these things are only paper if you don’t work at it and I believe all Belizeans should consider what it is I can do to be a peacemaker. We can’t always come to the Sarstoon or the border but we can all pray and we can all work and God will honor that because ultimately what you can’t solve you surrender and give God a chance but we must be his hands and feet and that is why I believed that it was my Christian responsibility to be here with my wife.”
A month ago the evangelical Missions of both Belize and Guatemala held a similar gathering promoting peace and unity between both countries.