The Christian Lutheran Church of Honduras (ICHL) is demanding an inquiry into a fire at the central jail in Comayagua that killed 350 prisoners on 14 February 2012.
The ICHL, a member of the Geneva-based Lutheran World Federation (LWF), also said it was praying for wisdom on the part of the country's leaders as they decide how to safeguard the rights of prisoners, according to the LWF's information service, Lutheran World Information.
"Once again, the prisons of Honduras have become the scene of a tragedy; we are horrified by this hellish prison catastrophe; we are overcome by a feeling of panic and indignation to learn of the unsafe conditions in which our country's prison populations lives," said the Rev José Martin Girón, president of the ICHL, in a communiqué following the tragedy.
The church called for international support as it continues to advocate for the rights of the Honduran people. "As a church, we lift our voices in defence of the justice that is so cruelly lacking in our beloved, suffering Honduras," Girón said.
ICHL General Secretary Rubi Flores lamented the fact that the Central American country continues to struggle from one tragedy to the next, including human rights violations and daily murders.
A fire at the Comayagüela market four days after the Comayagua prison blaze destroyed the livelihoods of many people, including members of Lutheran churches, she added in a letter to partner churches and organisations. The church is grateful for the many expressions of international solidarity, Flores remarked.
Support is coming from the communion of Lutheran churches in Central America. In a statement last week, the synod of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church added its voice to the call for an investigation into the fire tragedy and emphasised the need for justice. The LWF member church said it regretted "that such a fatality has to occur to make us react to problems such as this that are enormous time bombs."
The Rev Patricia Cuyatti, area secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean with the Department for Mission and Development, emphasised that the LWF as a whole is committed to supporting the ICHL as it provides pastoral care and advocates for justice for the people of Honduras.
"Lutherans worldwide continue to pray that these situations in Honduras will change and to accompany the Honduran church as it stands with the people in such tragedies," she stated.
The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. It includes 145 member churches in 79 countries, representing more than 70 million Christians.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]