October 11, 1990
Among the many critical issues which the Senate must deal with at this time, that of military aid to El Salvador remains a troubling one for many both in this country and in El Salvador. As the vote on the issue nears, I would like to reaffirm the views of the U.S. Catholic Conference (USCC) on the matter.
Together with the Catholic bishops of El Salvador, and indeed of all Central America, the USCC has for several years been on record as favoring an end to all external military support from all sources to all combatant forces in the region. The combined episcopates of Central America, earlier this year, issued a plea to "all the nations that produce and export arms, and those who unscrupulously traffic in them, to cease sending the instruments that cause such sorrow. What we need are not weapons but the material resources that will contribute to our development."
In union with the bishops of El Salvador, we have refrained from calling for a unilateral and total cut-off of all US aid to that country. We have instead urged that US military aid be reduced, limited and strictly conditioned, and have asked that even these reduced levels of aid be reviewed regularly for signs of genuine progress toward a political settlement of the conflict and true respect for human rights.
It is our judgment that the language recently adopted by the House to lessen and restrict military aid, language still further improved in the Senate Appropriations Committee, helps meet the desired goal of sending a clear signal to all the conflicting forces that US policy is unequivocally in support of a negotiated end to the fratricidal war, under the mediation of the UN Secretary General.
I hope you will find it possible to support the Dodd-Leahy El Salvador provisions in the present legislation.
Most Reverend Roger Mahony
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Chairman, USCC Committee on International Policy