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March 31, 1999
The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20502
Dear Mr. President:
We write to express our profound concern for the deteriorating situation in the Balkan region. The regrettable refusal of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to accept the compromise proposed at Rambouillet and later in Paris has brought about the NATO military intervention. The unfolding human tragedy demands immediate attention.
Last Sunday, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, spoke these words at the end of the Mass for Palm Sunday: "There is always time for peace. It is never too late to meet again and negotiate." We make the words of His Holiness our own as we ask you to use your influence to bring about a cease-fire. We have called upon President Slobodan Milosevic to order the immediate cessation of Serbian military and police operations against the population of Kosovo.
We associate ourselves with the suggestions expressed to the member-states of NATO and the U.N. Security Council by the Holy See. There must be no time lost in an effort to return to the negotiating table. The efforts of these negotiations must seek to guarantee the populations of Kosovo a degree of autonomy which respects their legitimate aspirations, according to history and law.
We urge the convocation of a Peace Conference which would involve the neighboring States also.The United Nations and its specialized agencies should be a part of the peace process. Peace will invariably demand the creation of an effective international peace keeping force.
In the meantime, all nations and non-governmental organizations should be able to send necessary emergency assistance with respect for the international conventions which protect the rights of civil populations in time of war.
The Catholic Church is in the midst of Holy Week. This Friday we recall the suffering and death of Jesus. Sunday is Easter, the commemoration of Our Lord and Savior's Resurrection. Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter on April 11. May this most holy of times in the Christian world be filled with thoughts and deeds of peace, not war. To that end, we pledge our prayers and support.
This letter is being made public in the hope that it might contribute to the building of a consensus in the cause of peace.
Asking God to bless you in your duties and President, we remain,
Bernard Cardinal Law
Archbishop of Boston
James Cardinal Hickey
Archbishop of Washington
John Cardinal O'Connor
Archbishop of New York
Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua
Archbishop of Philadelphia
Roger Cardinal Mahony
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Adam Cardinal Maida
Archbishop of Detroit
William Cardinal Keeler
Archbishop of Baltimore
Francis Cardinal George
Archbishop of Chicago
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