November 16, 1989
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Word has just reached us from El Salvador of the brutal murders of six Jesuit priests, their cook and her 15 year-old daughter. This shocking crime is another example of the bloody violence and deadly denial of human rights that haunts El Salvador. The current rebel offensive and the government's response have already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent Salvadorans, leaving thousands more homeless. The deliberate murder of these priests and those who assist them are additional testimony that human rights and human life are still in grave jeopardy in El Salvador.
We call on the U.S. government to use all the resources at its disposal to press the Salvadoran government to meet its obligations to investigate fully and bring to justice the perpetrators of these brutal murders. The poor record of the Salvadoran authorities in successfully investigating and prosecuting other tragic killings, such as the assassination of Archbishop Romero and the killing of the four American Church missionary women, suggests that the U.S. must act decisively to ensure that the Salvadoran government meet its responsibilities and that this crime will not also go unpunished.
We further urge the u.s. government to support strongly, actively and effectively the constant call of the Salvadoran bishops to all the parties to turn from violence, conflict and war to the essential process of dialogue, negotiation and peace. The extremists not only kill innocent civilians, but they are apparently seeking to destroy the peace process as well.
We stand with our brother bishops in El Salvador in their call for peace instead of conflict, dialogue in place of violence and their consistent defense of human life, human dignity and human rights. We urge our government to use its considerable influence with the Salvadoran government to press for effective respect for human rights, an end to death squad activity, protection for civilians and church institutions caught up in renewed conflict and the determined pursuit of a just peace through dialogue and negotiations among all the parties.
Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk