National News

Puerto Rican Bishops Call for Governor’s Resignation With Day-Long Prayer Encounter Amid Protests

People chant slogans as they wave Puerto Rican flags during ongoing protests calling for the resignation of Gov. Ricardo Rossello in San Juan July 20, 2019. (Photo: CNS/Marco Bello/Reuters)

The Tablet Staff

Following a tenth straight day of protests calling for Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign, Puerto Rican Catholic bishops have voiced their support for the demonstrations and are now joining the call for him to step down.

Since taking office in 2017 Rosselló has been accused by locals and politicians alike of failure to provide adequate relief, funding and support to the island post-Hurricane Maria. 

On July 10 the FBI arrested of members of his administration for federal fraud, and on July 13 over 800 pages of a private chat in which Rosselló mocked politicians, celebrities and the island’s death toll were released to the public, bringing political tensions to a head and prompting strikes around the world demanding for his resignation or impeachment. 

In a July 19 statement to Fides News Agency the Puerto Rican Bishops’ Conference wrote, “There are two principles of democratic governance, which were torn apart by the governor and his collaborators. First of all, the fundamental right to respect and protect human dignity were abused.”

“Secondly, the governor took advantage of his position, which must be a sacred space of government before a people who elected him by democratic vote. You, Mr. Governor, bribed and attacked people and groups that participate in our democratic coexistence and therefore cannot continue to exercise your role,” the statement continued.

Conference president Bishop Ruben Antonio Gonzalez Medina and secretary Bishop Eusebio Ramos Morales both signed off on the message.

According to Catholic News Agency, on July 20 the Puerto Rican Bishops’ Conference announced that from July 26-27 it will hold a day-long prayer encounter at the National Sanctuary of Mary, Mother of Divine Providence in the island’s capital of San Juan.

Since the release of Rosselló’s chats on July 13, protests and demonstrations have been taking place each night at the capital. The day of prayer comes after an island-wide strike on June 22 in which Puerto Ricans marched down Expreso Las Américas, one of the island’s largest Highways.

Puerto Ricans in New York also protested in solidarity on July 22, braving flood warnings and torrential downpours to occupy Columbus Circle and Grand Central Station. 

The island’s prayer encounter will include Eucharistic Adoration, beginning and ending with Mass on both July 26 and 27.