By Christian Goepel
An energetic Fairfax pastor racked up thousands
of miles in the past month trekking to Honduras, Guatemala and New York
to further his lifelong commitment to human rights.
The Rev. Kenneth Weare, 62, a pastor at St. Rita Catholic Church for
the past five years, ventured to Honduras Sept. 5-12 with Witness for
Peace, an organization promoting peace, justice and sustainable
economies in the Americas. He joined a fact-finding delegation to
gather testimony and look into human rights abuses inflicted by the
Roberto Micheletti regime that ousted democratically elected President
Manuel Zelaya in a June 28 military coup.
"We want to educate people in the United States about the situation in
Honduras," Weare said of his mission to one of Central America's
poorest and most overwhelmingly Catholic nations.
"It has a political and economic structure that has kept people
repressed and now the people are rising up for human rights," he said.
"Since the coup, demonstrations occur every single day. Not everyone
agrees with Zelaya, but the people do support the democratic process."
Weare, who has been involved with human rights delegations for three
decades, presented the delegation's findings to key members of the U.N.
Human Rights Council at its meeting in New York during the last week of
September. The report documented violence and threats against social
activists and independent media, beatings, torture, sexual harassment,
rape, assault, death threats and assassinations by Micheletti's de facto government.
Weare hopes the report will have a positive policy effect on the beleaguered nation.
Honduras needs to do what the United States does in regards to
protection of workers, education, equality of women and environmental
laws," Weare said of a possible solution to the country's ongoing
social and class divisions.
Bill Cuneo, a St. Rita parishioner since 1966, founded the Marin
Guatemala Mission Project in 2000 to address Third World poverty,
education, medical and housing issues. He and Weare ventured to
Guatemala this month to investigate academic progress at schools and
the reconstruction of a hospital destroyed by Hurricane Stan in 2005.
"Ever since he arrived at St. Rita's, he has very much been a backer of
my program," Cuneo said. "He wants to get out and help in any way
possible. He loves the people and the people love him."
Weare, also an adjunct professor of social ethics at the University of
San Francisco and a member of numerous religious, academic and human
rights organizations, is writing a book about the moral issues of
globalization and ethical issues on climate change to share with a
In the meantime, he will venture to Zambia and Malawi in March, one of his six annual trips in defense of human rights.
Rose Milani, a 37-year parishioner who does clerical work at St. Rita, said she and others share "a sense of pride" about Weare.
"He helps us understand the need for social justice at home and internationally," she said.
To read the article in the Marin Independent Journal, click here.