Joint Statement on Military Aid to El Salvador, March 2, 1981
U.S. Catholic Conference,
Conference of Major Superiors of Men,
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
March 2, 1981
As we approach the anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s assassination, we recall his prophetic letter to President Carter of February 17, 1980, asking for a guarantee that the United States would not “intervene with military economic, diplomatic or other pressures to determine the destiny of the Salvadoran people.” Since that time the Catholic Church and other major religious communities in the United States have consistently opposed any American military involvement in the El Salvadoran conflict.
In light of this position we found profoundly disturbing the decisions taken in the last two months to renew military aid to the Salvadoran Junta, to increase this aid through the delivery of weapons and ammunition, and finally, to propose even more significant increases for the future.
We are aware that the conflict in El Salvador is complex in its roots and requires continuing analysis. We have supported the assessment of Bishop Rivera y Damas that the principal responsibility for violence rests with the Junta. Our judgment in this matter is not an endorsement of other political forces in El Salvador. We remain convinced, however, that the provision of military assistance by the United States to the Junta has three negative consequences: it identifies the United States, at least symbolically, with the repressive role of the security forces whose actions have been consistently criticized by the Church in El Salvador; it increases the risk of wider military intervention; and it jeopardizes a constructive role the United States might play in the conflict.
We join with Bishop Rivera y Damas and the Bishops of El Salvador in expressing our belief that a political solution is both possible and preferable to the continued fratricidal conflict in El Salvador.
We use the anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s death to call again, in the name of the Bishops and Religious Communities of the United States, for the termination of all military aid to El Salvador and for new efforts to facilitate a negotiated political solution to the conflict.