ROME – In Honduras, a local bishop is calling for an “authentic peace” after claiming the Central American nation is “tormented” by violence related to organized crime and war.

The Catholic Church of Honduras, through the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa, Teodoro Gomez, said on Sunday that only the peace offered by God helps people leave behind fears, frustrations, weaknesses, negativism, guilt, and sadness.

“How much the world needs authentic peace today,” he said. “In a world tormented by wars, by so much violence, Jesus offers us peace.”

“Jesus does not criticize or judge us for our fears and our moments of infidelity, he does not reproach us or make us feel guilty, he only says ‘Peace be with you’: Only the certainty of his living presence can lead us to peace.”

Gomez’s words are both in reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began Feb. 24, and the violence caused by drug trafficking and organized crime in Honduras, one of the nations in the region used for the passage of drugs from South America to the United States.

The bishop’s homily came only days after former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández was extradited to the United States, where he is facing charges in a New York court for trafficking drugs for decades to further his political career.

Gang violence and organized crime are leading causes of displacement from Honduras, from where tens of thousands have fled in recent years.

While homicide rates have dropped since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Honduras is still the most dangerous country in Central America, with 38 homicides per 100,000 people. Gender-based violence in Honduras is also among the highest in the region and has increased during the pandemic.

Indeed, Honduras is seeing a plague of “femicides”—a woman is murdered every 36 hours, mostly by an intimate partner.

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