February 9, 1982
The policy of the United States Catholic Conference (USCC) has consistently been to oppose the provision of all military aid by any source to the contending forces in El Salvador. Such opposition to all military aid has been linked to a call for a negotiated settlement of the present conflict. The possibility of a negotiated settlement, repeatedly called for by responsible church voices in El Salvador, appears today more remote than ever.
The President has certified that the conditions imposed by the Congress for continuing military aid have been met. Rather than enter a detailed assessment of the Administrations position at this time, I would point to its conclusion: a major increase of U.S. military assistance. Since the USCC congressional testimonies of last year on El Salvador, nothing has occurred which changes our view that internal issues of social justice and human rights are the principal questions in El Salvador. Increasing U.S. military involvement - our present direction - is not a contribution to redressing these internal questions. It is a dangerous course, with a result potentially as damaging to us as it is to the Salvadorans.
I reiterate the conviction expressed by the American hierarchy last November that outside military assistance from any source to any party is not a useful contribution, but simply intensifies the cycle of violence in El Salvador. If the United States is to play any constructive role in ending the fratricidal conflict, it should be by strengthening the political will of those willing to dialogue, not by massively increasing the destructive capability of the armed forces.