WASHINGTON (January 6, 1997) -- The U.S. Catholic Conference will press the U.S. government for increased economic support for Guatemala to ensure the success of recently signed peace agreements, according to several representatives of the USCC.
In a letter to the Guatemalan ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark (NJ), Chairman of the Bishops International Policy Committee, said that the Bishops "look forward to supporting strong efforts by the international community, and especially by the United States, to aid the process of peace and reconciliation that has now begun." Archbishop McCarrick acknowledged that the U.S. government "often played a controversial role at many points in the affairs" of Guatemala, "going back at least to the coup d'etat of 1954."
Peace accords ending Guatemala's 36-year civil war were signed last week by the nation's president and rebel leaders. More than 100,000 people were killed during Central America's longest civil war and another 40,000 disappeared. It is hoped that the peace agreement will bring stability to the region as well as social and economic renewal to the country.
Reinforcing Archbishop McCarrick's remarks to the Guatemalan ambassador, USCC General Secretary Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr assured the general secretary of the Guatemalan Bishops' Conference of the commitment of the U.S. Bishops "to press for increased U.S. government support for implementing the peace plan ...."
That process began immediately with a letter sent from Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen, Director of USCC's Office of International Justice and Peace, to the State Department expressing the "hope that the commitment to peace will be accompanied by an equally strong commitment to an economy that seeks the well-being of all the Guatemalan people."
"We are confident that the Administration will seek to play a significant role in furthering that goal," Father Christiansen said.