Communique from Mexican Bishops for Peace and Justice in Chiapas, December 21, 1994
December 21, 1994
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God." (Mt. 5)
At a later time we promise to offer some more general views on the delicate matter of Chiapas which fills us all with sorrow and concern. But now, because of our urgent need to speak to the Chiapas situation, and because we have received the "Message from the Diocese of San Cristóbal" which Bishop Samuel Ruiz sent us on the 19th, we wish to say the following:
- Because peace is a gift from God, it is essential to insist on the power of prayer and sacrifice as ways of building and promoting peace among us. The Advent and Christmas seasons which we are now living calls us to such. As we did in January of this year, and have done in our communities throughout the year, as on other important occasions, we invite all the Catholics of Mexico to strive for true conversion and intensify our prayer for peace and justice. The promise of Jesus remains: "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened" (Lk. 11,9). We ask all our bishops to call on their parish priests so that in all Mexico our prayers and sacrifices may intensify in order to arrive at God's peace, based on justice.
- By his example and word, Christ has affirmed the value of prayer and fasting as ways of achieving conversion of heart. For the Christian, fasting is a sign of penance and purification, as well as a crying out for deeds to bring about justice. It is a sign that peace can never be built by violence but rather with the giving of oneself, as Christ gave his life for us.
- The President and the heads of the Mexican Army have decided to continue the cease-fire. We respectfully support this decision and ask that it be maintained, so as to prevent a fratricidal war. This situation of violence which we are experiencing is also a result of a long history of unfulfilled promises of some authorities. It is essential now to do everything to make deeds match words.
- By the same token, we remind the members of the EZLN that to attack a human being, even if seen as an ememy, is a violation of God's command "You shall not kill." It is essential to replace arms with the law and with work. It is necessary to pursue the way of dialogue to solve irregularities, as both the President has insisted and all sectors of Mexican society have affirmed. Dialogue helps us to grow as persons. We need to recognize that the lack of dialogue between the warring parties has provoked a deterioration in the nation's economic situation which gravely affects the communities they claim to defend. Experience tells us that it is organized common work that enables us to escape from misery.
- To those who have labored to keep hope alive in the sorrowful situations that we have been living, we assure them that that God will repay them. The actions that continue discovering the roads toward a more participative democratic life, the labors that lead to a more truly integral education for all, and the services that seek to accompany the indigenous and the campesinos in a life of dignity, are actions that God receives as having been done to Him. Thus Jesus teaches us, "I say to you that whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Mt. 25, 40).
May the Lord grant to all this Christmas the happiness promised to those who work for peace. May the Lord grant us a lasting peace, grounded in justice.
Council of the Presidency of the CEM
+Mons. Sergio Obeso Rivera
Archbishop of Xalapa
President of the CEM
+Mons. Manuel Pérez Gil González
Archbishop of Tlalnepantla
Vice President of the CEM
+Mons. Gilberto Valbuena S.
Bishop of Colima
Treasurer of the CEM
+Mons. Ramón Godínez Flores
Aux. Bishop of Guadalajara
General Secretary of the CEM
+Mons. J.G. Martín Rabago
Aux. Bishop of Gaudalajara
Member of the Council
+Mons. Mario de Gasperín
Bishop of the Querétaro
Member of the Council