- We come as a delegation of U.S. Bishops, together with staff from our episcopal conference, to visit with our brother Bishops of Guatemala, and to express our fraternal solidarity and support, especially for their work on behalf of peace.
- In the space of a brief but intense visit, we have had the opportunity of meeting with a range of concerned persons. In addition to extensive dialogue with most of the Bishops, and with His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio, we had a frank and fruitful discussion with the President of the Republic, for which we express our genuine gratitude. We met with representatives of our own government, with the human rights office of the Archdiocese, with over two dozen U.S. priests and religious working in Guatemala, and with the National Commission of Reconciliation. We hope to meet later today with the Procurator for Human Rights.
- It is the work of the National Commission, so ably and vigorously directed by Bishop Rodolfo Quezada Toruno, that has been the principal focus of our attention. As Bishops of the United States, we have long been concerned for peace throughout Central America. We have actively supported the regional efforts to achieve a true peace with justice in each of the countries so torn by years of repression, insurrection and war.
- None of these countries has suffered a longer or more costly conflict than has Guatemala. By the same token, none has yet achieved a more fully autonomous process for resolving the decades-long conflict. The very existence of a National Procurator for Human Rights, but most especially the role of Conciliador given to the President of the National Commission of Reconciliation, impresses us as truly hopeful signs that Guatemala is on the way to a just and lasting peace.
- We claim no special expertise in these matters. We recognize the complexity of the issues and the difficulties that still lie ahead. We well understand that peace is more than the absence of war and that for true peace to be achieved, certain fundamental issues of respect for human rights, of judicial integrity, of economic justice, including a new agrarian policy, must be addressed.
- But we cannot fail to speak of what we have experienced. We have sensed the deep faith of the Guatemalan people and have witnessed the pastoral dedication of the Catholic Church's leadership. We have felt the almost tangible hope on the part of so many that the road to peace is now truly being constructed.
- We join with our fellow Bishops and with the whole Catholic Church of Guatemala in praying that this hope will not be frustrated. We commend these efforts, and our own continuing support, to the maternal care of Our Lady, who is venerated so devotedly here under the titles of Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of the Assumption. May she continue to guide the National Commission and the whole people of Guatemala as they together seek to establish the reign of peace with justice.
Most Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick
Archbishop of Newark
Most Reverend James A. Griffin
Bishop of Columbus
Most Reverend Placido Rodriguez, C.M.F.
Auxiliary of Chicago