Statement on Meeting with Secretary Muskie on Situation in El Salvador, December 18, 1980

Year Published
  • 2013
  • English

Archbishop James A. Hickey and Bishop Thomas C. Kelly, O.P.
December 18, 1980

On Dec. 17 Archbishop Hickey and Bishop Kelly met with Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs William Bowdler. They spoke of the deep concern of the Church in the United States over the situation in El Salvador, which climaxed in the recent brutal murders of four American missionaries there.

Archbishop Hickey and Bishop Kelly expressed satisfaction over the U.S. government’s initial response to the killings of the American missionaries, particularly the sending of a State Department diplomatic mission led by Mr. Bowdler and former Assistant Secretary William D. Rogers to conduct an investigation into charges that Salvadoran security forces were implicated in the murders, and the suspension of all U.S. economic and military assistance to El Salvador.

While the U.S. has since resumed economic assistance to El Salvador in the wake of the restructuring of the government there, the State Department officials assured the bishops that military assistance will not be resumed until the Salvadoran government’s promised full investigation into the murders has been completed. The bishops requested that Church authorities receive regular briefings on the status of that investigation. They received a favorable response to this request.

In response to another question raised by the bishops, concerning reports that some forms of military assistance to El Salvador have continued despite the ban, the State Department officials said they were unaware of this having occurred.

Archbishop Hickey and Bishop Kelly asked if it would be possible for the U.S. government to release the report of the Bowdler-Rogers mission. They were told that this request would be considered but that the State Department felt that release of the report might be premature at present in light of the investigation being conducted by the Salvadoran government.

The Bishops expressed disappointment that President Carter had been unable to receive them. They had requested a meeting with the President almost immediately after the murder of the American missionaries on Dec. 2.