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April 19, 1993
Most Reverend Gerardo Flores Reyes
Bishop of Vera Paz
President, Guatemalan Episcopal Conference
26 Calle 8-90, Zona 12
Cuidad de Guatemala
FAX: (502)(2) 764171
Dear Bishop Flores:
Easter greetings from the U.S. Catholic Conference. As we here have followed the several developments in the on-going Guatemalan peace process, we continue to be impressed by the evangelical commitment of the Church of Guatemala to that work. I write today to express, once again, the strong support of this Conference for the contribution you and the other Bishops of Guatemala are making toward the realization of that greatly desired peace.
We continue to be impressed by the critically important role that Bishop Rodolfo Quezada Toruno, and the National Reconciliation Commission which he heads, are playing in mediating the talks between the Government of Guatemala and the URNG. A little over a year ago, a delegation of U.S. Bishops conveyed our strong support for that effort personally to the President of the Republic, and we renew that expression of support today.
Equally impressive has been the work of those assisting the return of the refugees who, years ago, had fled into Mexico. We are aware of the dedicated work of Bishop Jorge Avila and the Mediating Commission for negotiating and overseeing the return. We are happy that our Conference, as well as our international entity, Catholic Relief Services, are able to assist with material support for this process.
A third area in which the Church's work has been widely noted is that of the perilous situation of those communities in El Quiche known as Communities of People in Resistance, or CPRs. We have seen numerous reports of threats and attacks made against these civilian populations by the Guatemalan Army. We hope that these people will soon be allowed to settle their lands, re-build their communities, and trade with their neighbors in peace, free of military harassment.
I know that you personally have been directly involved in this situation, as have Bishops Alvaro Ramazzini of San Marcos and Julio Cabrera of Santa Cruz del Quiche, among others. The Church's option for the poor is well expressed in the pastoral concern shown for these harassed communities.
Finally, the work of the human rights office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala has received much praise from groups and persons around the world, an international recognition that is well deserved. Its vigorous defense of the basic rights of people, especially the poorest, has drawn the ire of others who have attacked it, and indeed the Archbishop himself, in the crudest terms. Let me renew today the expression of solidarity and support for the work of the human rights office which I issued last November.
As we have just commemorated the passion and death of the Lord, followed by his resurrection, we join with you in the firm belief that the pain and suffering of the Guatemalan people will surely be turned into the joy of the Risen Lord.
With best wishes to you, to your fellow Bishops, and all the Church of Guatemala, I remain
Most Reverend John R. Roach
Archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
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