October 2, 1991
After nearly eleven years of intense but indecisive warfare, leaving scores of thousands dead and many hundreds of thousands uprooted, the leaders of El Salvadors government and rebels have signed an historic peace accord. It is a time to thank God that this day has finally arrived.
It is a time also to pray that these leaders and those who answer to them will have the strength and courage to follow through on the agreement and pursue to the end the peace that is so ardently sought.
The leaders of both sides and especially the Secretary General of the United Nations, Javier Perez de Cuellar, and his mediator, Alvaro de Soto, deserve the gratitude of many, both here and in El Salvador. No less deserving of praise is the persistent and unflagging effort of so many Salvadoran people who have worked and spoken out and prayed for peace throughout these years.
The efforts of the Catholic Church in El Salvador to bring about the necessary dialogue that has led finally to the negotiations have been of particular significance. The road to the New York Agreement began in the village of La Palma when, in 1984, the Archbishop of San Salvador, Arturo Rivera Damas, mediated the first hesitant talks between the two sides.
Joined by others, including the efforts of our own episcopal conference, the Church in El Salvador has not ceased to cry out for peace, and to call for dialogue and the negotiated settlement of the conflict. While the war has still continued, the Church has sought to bind up the wounds of the war: to attend to the widow and orphan, to assist the displaced, to defend peoples human rights, to call for humanizing an inhuman conflict, and, ceaselessly, to insist that the war must end not on the battlefield but at the negotiating table.
May the efforts and prayers of so many soon be rewarded with a lasting and just peace.