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December 22, 1989
President George H. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of the United States Catholic Conference, I write once again to express our deep concerns and strong convictions about U.S. policy toward El Salvador. The continuing violence and repression, the recent guerilla offensive and the activities of the Salvadoran military have intensified the loss of life, the brutal denial of human rights and the tragic suffering of the Salvadoran people. Their lives, dignity and rights are constantly assaulted by this continuing conflict and the pervasive social and economic injustices which haunt their land.
As Catholic bishops, we stand with our brother bishops in El Salvador in their defense of human rights for all, their condemnation of violence on both sides, their solidarity with the poor, and their pursuit of dialogue, negotiation and peace in place of war and violent conflict. As U.S. religious leaders, we wish to stress how important it is that our government, at every level and in every situation, place a clear priority on the defense of human rights, the protection of religious leaders, workers and institutions and the pursuit of true justice and genuine peace through dialogue and negotiations among all the parties. We appeal to our government to support actively and strongly the efforts of the Central American Presidents and the Church in El Salvador to bring about a cease-fire and good faith negotiations to end the conflict.
Our perspectives on these matters are shaped to a considerable extent by our solidarity with the Church in El Salvador, a courageous community of faith proclaiming the Gospel in the midst of danger, violence and suffering. We stand with Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas, his brother bishops and the Church they serve in the pursuit of peace instead of war, dialogue in place of violence. We also stand with Archbishop Rivera in his powerful criticisms of both sides of the conflict in El Salvador and all those in the region and around the world who tragically fuel the flames of war and violence in that suffering land.
I wish to thank you for your recent reply to my letter on the murder of the Jesuits and their co-workers. I appreciate your reassurance that your Administration "will continue to press for full respect for human rights, democracy, and social justice in that troubled country."
I enclose a brief summary of some of the more specific concerns we have expressed in recent communications and meetings with members of your Administration and leaders of the Congress. We know you share several of our concerns and there may be different points of view on others. We welcome opportunities to continue to discuss these concerns with your Administration and the leaders of Congress.
Our prayers are with you as you lead our nation at a time of such contrasting challenges --the triumph of freedom in Eastern Europe and the tragedy of brutal violence in El Salvador. We hope and pray that our nation will be true to its best traditions in responding to the challenges we face around the world.
Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk
Archbishop of Cincinnati
The following points are a brief summary of the concerns expressed by the Catholic Bishops Conference in recent communications with key members of the Bush Administration and the Congress. We have specifically urged the U.S. Government to use its considerable influence with the elected government of El Salvador and its military forces to pursue the following goals:
We fear that in the current crisis and in the future the extremes of Right and Left will increasingly threaten the lives dignity and rights of Salvadorans.
We, therefore, ask the Administration and Congress to undertake a thorough review of both U.S. policy and performance on the defense of human rights, the protection of religious persons and institutions, and the pursuit of dialogue and negotiations in place of military conflict. We also ask for an effective exploration of how military arms from outside El Salvador that fuel the violence can be replaced by economic and social assistance that El Salvador so desperately needs to address the fundamental causes of the conflict. These concerns flow from the principles and policies adopted by the U.S. Catholic bishops in their Statement on Central America in November, 1987.
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