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March 18, 1997
The Honorable Jesús Silva-Herzog
Ambassador of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
F FAX: (202) 728-1698
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
I write to express our continued concern about a number of incidents adversely affecting the well-being of the Catholic Church and its clergy in the State of Chiapas, incidents that suggest a pattern of official behavior that could well be described as religious persecution.
The most recent of these was the totally unwarrented arrest of Fr. Jerónimo Hernández López, SJ and Fr. Gonzalo Rosas Morales, SJ, together with two campesino companions, Ramón Parcero Martínez and Francisco González Gutiérrez. The four were arrested in the afternoon of March 8, in the municipality of Palenque and held incommunicado for over 24 hours before finally being visited by their local superior and by the Coadjutor Bishop of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Mons. Raúl Vera López, OP.
The men have now been released, but the circumstances leading to their illegal arrest and detention have yet to be clarified. Considering that the four were formally charged with complicity in certain events that allegedly took place on March 7 in Palenque--when the priests were in fact in San Cristóbal--a considerable cloud still hangs over their heads, and serious questions remain concerning the conduct of officials of the local government.
In union with the Consejo Permanente of the Conference of Mexican Bishops, we too "join in solidarity with our brother bishops of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, aware that they have made a clear option for a peace and reconciliation that is based in the dignity and the human rights of all the people of Chiapas, especially the poorest." And with them, we call for the restoration of the good name and honor of the four men by means of a full and honest investigation of this most recent instance of religious persecution in Chiapas.
In the hope of receiving some clarification of these matters, I remain
Most Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick
Archbishop of Newark
Chairman, USCC Committee on International Policy
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