WASHINGTON (January 6, 1998) -- Following a Christmas week massacre of 45 villagers in the Mexican state of Chiapas, Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick has sent a letter of sympathy to the Bishop of the local diocese.
"As you and the whole Church of the San Cristóbal Diocese pass these sorrowful days mourning the December 22 massacre of so many innocent women and children, I send this message joining our own sorrow with yours and that especially of the suffering Tzotzil people of your Diocese," said Archbishop McCarrick in his December 31 letter to Bishop Samuel Ruíz Garcia.
Many of the victims were killed in a church where they had taken refuge when paramilitary gunmen opened fire in the village of Acteal. Others were hacked to death with machetes, according to international humanitarian workers in the state of Chiapas. The slaughter in the small town of 600 is the latest occurrence in a regional conflict which began in January 1994.
"We pray that out of this darkness, the Light of the new-born Christ will illumine the hearts of all and will bring those of hardened hearts to conversion," said Archbishop McCarrick, Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference International Policy Committee. "The tragically stalled peace talks must be re-started with new vigor so that the new year may at last see progress toward justice, peace, and reconciliation among the peoples of Chiapas."