WASHINGTON (February 15, 2005) – In a letter to the Brazilian ambassador to the United States released today, the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' International Policy Committee expressed "deep concern and revulsion" at the murder of U.S. missionary Sister Dorothy Stang.
Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee, said he was encouraged by reports that Brazilian officials "will push hard for justice in the case," and asked the ambassador to communicate the U.S. bishops' concerns to his government.
Ohio-born Sister Dorothy Stang, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, was shot several times on February 12 while traveling to meet officials from the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform. Bishop Ricard said she had worked for more than two decades on behalf of poor farmers in Brazil's Pará state, and had received death threats since 1999.
In a separate letter of condolence to leaders of Sister Stang's religious community, Bishop Ricard said her death was "reminiscent of the 1988 murder of Chico Mendes which caused an international outcry against the Amazon-area land speculators of that time. We can hope that Sister Dorothy's sacrifice will lead to greater justice for the poor landless workers with whom she worked tirelessly and for whom finally she laid down her life."
The full text of Bishop Ricard's letters can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/brazil.htm .