A LETTER of “solidarity” has been sent to the diocese of El Salvador by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry. It follows an attempt to seize power by the Salvadorean President, Nayib Bukele, which, church leaders have warned, threatens the country’s democracy.
In the letter, timed to mark the start of the annual diocesan convention, Bishop Curry said: “The Episcopal Church are holding all of you in prayer, giving thanks to God for you all and the opportunity you have to be with one another again. We have a long and deep history of relationship with your diocese, grounded in our love of God and each other.
“It is in the spirit of this deep relationship that we stand in solidarity with you during this time of both global health pandemic and the challenges of working for peace and human rights. Indeed, we have long been inspired by the ways that the Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana de El Salvador has been a champion of human rights.”
President Bukele has been consolidating power since he increased his vote share in elections in February; last month, he removed five judges from the Constitutional Court, replacing them with his own appointees, and dismissed the Attorney General.
International leaders have condemned the move. The Vice-President of the United States, Kamala Harris, tweeted: “An independent judiciary is critical to a healthy democracy — and to a strong economy.”
The Bishop of El Salvador, the Rt Revd David Alvarado, said that Bishop Curry’s letter reminded Christians in El Salvador that they were not alone. “We feel the solidarity of the Church, and it makes us feel like our Church here in El Salvador matters to the rest of the Church, and that their prayers are with us.”
There was currently, he said, a “test of democracy” in El Salvador. The Church has not yet been affected, although Bishop Alvarado said that requests to meet government officials had been denied.
The diocese is part of the Province of the Central American Region. El Salvador is still recovering after a 12-year-long civil war which ended in 1992, after the deaths of 75,000 people.