News
Fr. Ismael “Melo” Moreno, SJ
Jesuits Decry Attacks on Honduran Jesuit Fr. Ismael “Melo” Moreno, Prominent Human Rights Activist

Aug. 7, 2017 — On July 31, the feast of St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus, Latin American Jesuits raised an alarm for one of their brother Jesuits, Fr. Ismael “Melo” Moreno, director of the Honduran Jesuit radio station, Radio Progreso, and the Honduran Jesuit social action center.

An outspoken human rights advocate in a country plagued by government corruption and violence, Fr. Melo has worked for years to promote dialogue while advocating for the marginalized.

Last year when the national university, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH), was embroiled in student strikes, Fr. Melo sat at the negotiating table at the request of students. While agreements were reached between the students and the university, this year student strikes and protests continued, and in the aftermath many students have been injured at the hands of university-hired security forces and many more arrested. In addition, the recent murder of the father of a student activist, who was killed after attending the judicial hearing of his son, has created a climate of fear for those exercising their right to protest peacefully.


Fr. Melo at a protest.

On July 19, at a concert held on campus, Fr. Melo joined hundreds of students protesting the treatment of their fellow classmates by university authorities. Retaliating against Fr. Melo for his support of the students, the university’s rector accused the Jesuit of promoting anarchy and generating violence. The university subsequently canceled its contract with ERIC, the Jesuit-run social action center that Fr. Melo leads.

In their statement, the Jesuits of the Central American Province said, “We want to declare that the attacks directed against Fr. Melo are the consequence of working to defend the human rights of all sectors of society. … The defense of human rights … is the horizon that guides the work of the Society of Jesus in Honduras.”

The statement, which was endorsed by the president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S. and the president of the Conference of Provincials for Latin America and the Caribbean, expressed strong support for ERIC-Radio Progreso and Fr. Moreno for maintaining “a spirit of open and flexible dialogue, of reasonable tolerance, and of unwavering struggle for justice.”

Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S., said, “Fr. Melo’s entire life has been devoted to freedom of expression and human rights. It’s egregious that he’s being accused of inciting violence when he’s watched dear friends like environmental activist Berta Cáceres be gunned down for speaking up for the people of Honduras.”

According to U.S. Jesuit Matthew Ippel, the public attack against Fr. Melo by the university rector is a threat and part of a pattern of attack against human rights defenders. “It is embedded in a larger narrative that makes any dissenting voice the enemy. It is deeply alarming that those who advocate for justice, for the defense of the rights of the marginalized and excluded, are being discredited, criminalized and assassinated.”


Matthew Ippel, SJ, with Fr. Melo.

Radio Progreso, an important independent voice in a country where most broadcast outlets are controlled by special interests, serves both rural communities and large cities. In the last several years, two employees of ERIC-Radio Progreso have been murdered and threats have been made against others. In late March of this year, a defamation campaign targeted Fr. Melo and other activists.

According to the Organization of American States, Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world for human rights defenders.  

In 2015, Fr. Melo was honored with the prestigious Rafto Prize for his “defense of freedom of expression in one of the most violent countries in the world.” In accepting the prize, Fr. Melo said, “I believe profoundly in life, and I profoundly believe in human beings and I deeply believe that the good will prevail against any kind of evil and violence.” [Sources: Central American Province of the Society of Jesus, The Jesuit Post]





Recent News

Jan. 9, 2018 - Dr. Thomas de Quesada, current Dean of Men at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami, Florida, has been named the next principal of Fairfield Prep. Dr. de Quesada will assume this new role on July 1, 2018.

In his first video of 2018, Pope Francis spoke on his January intention, religious minorities in Asia. “Let us pray for all of them so that Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practice their faith in full freedom.”

Jan. 5, 2018 — As the new year begins, Jesuits.org invites you to reflect on 2017 with this Ignatian Annual Examen courtesy of Xavier University’s Jesuitresource.org.

Jan. 5, 2018 - The Jesuit Center welcomed friends and donors to an open house featuring the renovated St. Ignatius Loyola Jesuit Community and a new apostolic center in service of our mission.

Jan. 2, 2018 - Fr. Edward F. Howard, SJ, was called to eternal life on Dec. 24, 2017. He was born on May 25, 1932, entered the Society of Jesus at Shadowbrook, Lenox, Mass., on Sept. 7, 1951, and was ordained on June 11, 1966, at Weston College, Weston, Mass. He pronounced his final vows on Aug. 14, 1990.

Jan. 2, 2018 - Fr. William D. Ibach, SJ, was called to eternal life on Dec. 24, 2017. He was born on Feb. 20, 1929, entered the Society of Jesus at Shadowbrook, Lenox, Mass., on July 30, 1946, and was ordained on June 13, 1959, at Weston College, Weston, Mass. He pronounced his final vows on Nov. 5, 1980.

Dec. 21, 2017 - A 2017 graduate of Saint Peter’s University was one of seven DACA recipients arrested at the offices of Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), last Friday while calling on the Congress members to act on their promises to support the situation of Dreamers through Congressional action.

view all news

Search news







Loyola House of Retreats
Loyola House of Retreats is located on 30 acres of beautiful lawns, gardens and woodland in a quiet section of Morristown, N.J.