WASHINGTON (April 1, 1999) -- The eight U.S. Cardinals, in an extraordinary joint action, have sent letters to President Clinton and Yugoslavia's President Slobodan Milosevic calling for an end to all violence in Kosovo and the immediate return to negotiations.
"We write to urge an immediate cessation of Serbian military and police operations against the population of Kosovo, and your government's cooperation in accord with international conventions, with those agencies wishing to provide emergency assistance to the population of Kosovo," the Cardinals said in their letter to Milosevic.
The two letters, signed March 31 and released today, were signed by Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, Francis George of Chicago, James Hickey of Washington, William Keeler of Baltimore, Bernard Law of Boston, Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, Adam Maida of Detroit, and John O'Connor of New York.
In their letter to President Clinton, the Cardinals also asked for a NATO cease-fire and a return to negotiations.
"There must be no time lost in an effort to return to the negotiating table," the prelates said. "The efforts of these negotiations must seek to guarantee the populations of Kosovo a degree of autonomy which respects their legitimate aspirations, according to history and law."
Both letters urged the convening of a peace conference with the involvement of other states in the region. "The United Nations and its specialized agencies should be a part of the peace process," the Cardinals told President Clinton. "Peace will invariably demand the creation of an effective international peace keeping force."
The two letters reiterate the key elements of a statement issued late yesterday by the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/U.S. Catholic Conference, calling for a four step resolution to the current crisis in the Balkans. Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston called for an immediate end to Yugoslav violence against the Kosovar population; a NATO cease-fire; immediate and unhindered access by international relief agencies to those affected by the crisis; and "renewed and intensified dialogue" among all parties.
Quoting Pope John Paul II's remarks last Sunday, the Cardinals said, "'There is always time for peace. It is never too late to meet again and negotiate.'"